Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas

July 16, 2012

Angst Alert!
I knew going into this story that I was going to have a problem with the theme.  One of my least favorite storylines involves the hero, who just cannot ever, ever forget about his first love, even though the woman he is married to is his perfect match.  You know those perfect match types: hang onto your every word, become your best friend, some one you can talk to, even tell all those amorous stories to.  The ardent stories about those other women.  And all the time, she your wife, doesn't bat an eye.  She smiles and nods while all the time she is dying inside.

Well, that's exactly what we have in Ravishing the Heiress.  However, in the magical hands of a master wordsmith such as Ms. Thomas, I was eager to see what spin she would put to this tale.

I have to say right up front that this was one of the most angst filled, depressing, painful books I've read in a long time.  Where are the Marx brothers when you need them?  It's been a long time since I've read a book with a lead couple where all I wanted to do was slap them silly.

Millie, aka Martyr Mill, wake up!  Throw a fit! Scream! Yell! Don't just stand there and take it! Quit being so nice! Just once! Give that clod you're married to an ultimatum! Pu-leese!

And you, Fitz, you insensitive clown! How can you live with Martyr-Mill for 8 years and not know you love her? AAAkkk - wake up! That other woman is not for you! And all those little stories about your bawdy affairs you've been entertaining your wife with. Sputter! How uncaring can you be?

Yet - yes, my fellow Romanceland readers there is a yet - I could not but this book down.

You see both Millie and Fitz are fully developed characters, and this book takes us on a slow journey of discovery.  Through the miracle of flashbacks, we get to watch the angst-ridden teenagers Millie and Fitz move from a forced marriage to a great partnership, which in turn becomes a strong friendship. 

It's just agonizing to watch only one side of the friendship realize that there is love involved.  Be warned - this is a distressing read.

Now, I do have some quibbles.  I could have done without the commercial interruption of Helena and Hastings. We get it! Yes, we know their story is next! Yes, we know Helena isn't likeable! But they are a distraction from the flow of the storyline.

Then there is Isabelle. Isabelle the other woman. I DID NOT LIKE ISABELLE. Was it because she is the other woman? Partially.  However, she, like Fitz, was insensitive to what the results of her actions might be to the people around her. She seemed to have no care as to what setting up a household with a married man might do to her children.  But the defining moment for me, the moment that put the nail in Isabelle's coffin, was the train station scene. Nothing says subtle cruelty better than showing up at the station to welcome your soon-to-be-lover's sister home, knowing that his wife, Martyr-Mill, will be there. Talk about a mark-your-territory moment and I might add a truly excruciating one.  Someone hand me a hammer and nails. Pu-leese!

The last quibble. I mentioned this before but it bears repeating - get some back bone, Martyr-Mill!  Just once!  One little time! Punch some one's lights out!  Leave!  Anything!  But, quit degrading yourself.  Make him grovel!

Overall this was a very strong story and I had a love-hate reaction to it.  However, it is one that you should read because it is a story you are going to remember long after you put it down and turn out the lights.

Time/Place: Edwardian England
Sensuality: Warm


Tracy said...

I didn't read your review because I'm hoping to read this soon but I can't wait. Good rating. :)

SidneyKay said...

Tracy: Tissue, tissue