Beguiling a Beauty by Sherry Thomas

May 15, 2012
Pet Peeve: a major or principal annoyance or complaint.
Spoilers galore!
You know, I'm not really fond of the term "Pet Peeve" so I'm changing it to "abrasive subject matter moments."  Those are subject matters that, over the years, I've come to avoid when reading a romance novel.  And, over the years, that list has become quite lengthy...you know the ones I mean: infidelity, secret babies, women disguised as men, women disguised as...etc.  Well, it just so happens with the introduction of the Fitzhugh series, Sherry Thomas has managed to tap into three of my "moments."  One for each book. I think she did it deliberately.  She probably said, now what can I write about that will irritate SidneyKay and trigger all kinds of presumptive wall banger (not the good kind) moments?  I'm sure it is all part of the great conspiracy to make me sweat.  The first one, Beguiling the Beauty has a heroine who disguises herself.  The second story will be about the Fitzhugh brother who is married to a sweet woman (Millie), while loving another.  And, the third story appears to be about the youngest sister, who may be having an affair with a married man.  None of these are my favorite plots.  However, I suspect in the hands of Sherry Thomas, instead of hitting a wall, they will wind of being on my keeper shelf.  It always boils down to how well an author writes.

This was a hard book for me to review, because there were moments of wonderfully brilliant storytelling, but populated within those sparkling words were some very unlikeable characters.  Even the secondary ones.  Actually, there were two people I liked, Millie (the trod-upon wife) and Hastings (the snitch rake).  They will show up in later books.  How do I know this, you may ask?  Because, Sherry Thomas strewed their stories throughout Beguiling a Beauty - almost stealing the show from the main entertainment of watching our hero (Christian) and our heroine (Venetia) stumble their way to a HEA.

See, I'm starting to get sidetracked and by the way this happened quite a lot in Beguiling a Beauty.

While I admire Sherry Thomas' voice and recommend this book because I think that the entire series is going to be amazing, I also must throw in a warning.  I could not find it in my heart to like Venetia or Christian.  Of the two, Venetia was the more sympathetic character, even though she had the hare-brained idea of disguising herself as a German countess and seeking revenge by making Christian fall in love with her then dumping him.  I thought the plan was rather childish.  However, she does realize not too far into the hide-n-seek game that it isn't the wisest decision she's ever made.  But it's too late when she has her epiphany.

My main problem with this book lies with wishy-washy, fickle, jump-to-the-wrong-conclusion Christian.  Christian induced numerous frowny faces on me.  While he's in his twenties, he is struck dumb by Venetia's beauty...I forgot to say, she is the most beautiful woman in the world.  Anyway, he's love-struck, obsessed, cannot think of anyone but her, until a chance meeting with her husband, a stranger to Christian by the way.  Nevertheless, the husband makes some kind of comment about Venetia destroying his life (the husband) or some such prattle and Christian believes him.  All of a sudden, the great beauty, the love of his life is now the great Whore of Babylon.  And this is based on what?  Christian has never said boo to Venetia...no sir...but he jumps quickly into the muddy waters of wrong conclusions.  However, he is never able to forget her, he is still obsessed with her, still in luv with her.  And, still able to bad mouth her in public.  Which is why Venetia seeks revenge. 

Next we have Christian boarding a ship with a disguised-as-a-German-countess Venetia (she always wears a veil.)  And, what does fickle Christian do?  Why he falls for the German countess of course.  For one entire week they have sex, sex, and more sex.  Oh by the way, she can't get pregnant because she never did when she was married.  Anyway, Christian luves, luves, luves the countess...but then she leaves when the boat docks and he can't forget her Until he happens to see Venetia again.  The most beautiful woman in the world, who he loves, must have, obsesses over.  And then the truth happens.  He finds out that Venetia and the countess are one and the same.  Oh, the humanity.  Now, he turns into Mr. Sulky guy, you did me wrong, I hate you, I hate you.  I really had no sympathy for this man and felt that Venetia deserved someone better.  Maybe if there had been more moments of shared camaraderie I would have liked him better.  Because when they were together talking honestly, sharing their love of science, they were a great couple.  As it were, those moments were few and far between.

So, I had a hard time rating Beguiling a Beauty.  It was filled with some wonderful writing, but I never felt Christian was given enough book space to redeem himself and become a true "hero."  Most of the his time was spent obsessing or jumping to the wrong conclusion.

The next book is Ravishing the Heiress, Millie's and the Fitzhugh brother's story.  One of my favorite plot-lines is "the marriage of convenience" and that is what this one will be about.  However, mixed into that will be one of my least favorite themes, "not able to forget the other woman."  I am, however, looking forward to reading how Ms. Thomas is going to meld them together.

Time/Place: Late Victorian England
Sensuality Rating: Hot

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