Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas (Fitzhugh Trilogy #2)
July 3, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: Some hopes were weeds, easy to eradicate with a yank and a pull. Some, however, were vines, fast growing, tenacious, and impossible to clear. As she played the music box again, alone in the drawing room, she began to realize that her were of the latter kind.
She would never stop hoping.
The first 90% of this book is absolutely incredible. The angst and the torment made me die a little on the inside. It’s one of those books that you will start to read and will not be able to put down until there are declarations of love and a happily ever after for our poor, devastated protagonists. Let me set up the book.
Millie comes from a wealthy family. Her father manufactures tinned goods, and while he makes a ton of money, it is not the noblest of professions so Millie’s future husband most likely will be a titled gentleman who needs money. Millie, who has been brought up to be the perfect young lady, knows she will have an arranged marriage and is ready to do her duty. She is quiet and stoic and never makes a fuss. She is indifferent to whomever her father sets her up with. It’s just another step in her planned, calm life. But then her sixteen year old eyes looks upon her future husband. And her world collapses. She has love at first sight.
Lord Fitzhugh or Fitz is nineteen and unexpectedly inherited the title of an Earl. A very desolate earl. He is deeply and truly in love with his friend Isabelle. But Isabelle doesn’t have a lot of money, and he has inherited 80,000 pounds of debt and now has people depending on him, so he must follow his duty and marry an heiress. While Millie can’t wrap her mind around the fact that this amazing man will soon be her husband, Fitz has different feelings:
“Are you being forced to marry me?”
The words left her in a spurt, like arterial bleeding. She was afraid of his answer. Only a man who was himself being forced would wonder whether she, too, was under the dame duress.
He was silent a for some time. “Do you not find this kind of arrangement exceptionally distasteful?”
Glee and misery – she’d been bouncing between the two wildly divergent emotions. But now there was only miserly left, a sodden mass of it. His tone was courteous. Yet his question was an accusation of complicity: He would not be here if she hadn’t agreed.
And as the reader, we see Fitz and Isabelle come to the realization that they will truly not be allowed to be together:
His face was wet. “You’ll find someone better,” he forced himself to say.
“I don’t want anyone else. I want only you.”
And he wanted only her. But it was not to be. They were not to be.
Millie knows Fitz is deeply in love with Isabelle, and since they are both so young (19 and 16) she proposes a deal with Fitz. For the first 8 years of their marriage, he is free to pursue anyone mistress he wants. They will live in the same house, but will not consummate their marriage for eight years. And so sets the stage of this arranged marriage. Isabelle goes off to marry someone else and leaves Fitz completely devastated. The pain he goes through is so heart-wrenching as you watch him comes to terms with losing his love.
And what Sherry Thomas does, is every other chapter flips back and forth from the time they are first married to eight years into the future. So we get to experience first hand the emotional torment Fitz must endure having lost Isabelle, and likewise, the torment Millie goes through, being married to a man she loves, yet unable to show that emotion to him. He is nowhere near ready to accept any type of love Millie has for him.
What they do become though is friends. Millie knows outright Fitz has many mistresses, sometimes even discussing them with him. But when Isabelle returns to London after her husband’s death (8 years into their marriage), Millie can’t help but feel devastated. Fitz is beyond happy Isabelle has returned, wanting to finally be with her (in a mistress way). But he also realizes he has never given Millie the chance to have children so he tells her now that their 8 year pact is up, they will have relations for 6 months. After those 6 months, hopefully a child will be in her womb, and then he will pursue Isabelle.
I can’t convey in this review the depth of emotion we get. I was so enthralled in this book, on the verge of weeping every other page that I could barely stand it. I think this author does an incredible job with both Fitz and Millie’s pain. Fitz is so upset at losing Isabelle, but truly is a kind friend to Millie. But that is it. He never feels conflict with having affairs with other women. And Millie pushes her pain, deep into herself, to always have a comforting smile for her husband but her loneliness really stands out.
I’m so glad half of the story is set when they first marry, and the other half set 8 years into the future when both the pact of no sexual relations is coming to an end and the widowed Isabelle comes back. When Fitz finally tells Millie, it is time for them to try to have a child, their sex scenes are very well done. Millie wants so hard to look at their love making as purely a way to get pregnant for an heir, but ultimately, she loves Fitz too much to keep her passion out of it. Fitz is awakened to his wife, and yet still has to deal with his feelings for Isabelle.
And then the end of the book comes. It is very rushed. All of a sudden, Isabelle retreats, and Fitz declares love for Millie. I did a, wait what? I needed more time for Isabelle to be furious she was being cast aside. And for Fitz to truly convince me that his love for Millie will last a lifetime. He has been SO caught up on the idea of Isabelle, that when he finally chooses Millie, the book ends. I needed more. Much more.
The first 90% of this book is incredible and I think so different from anything I’ve read in quite some time. With a rushed ending it left me a tad disappointed, but I still highly recommend this book.