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Ravishing the Heiress
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 682

PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 8:41 am    Post subject: Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas Reply with quote

I have to say I agree with Jean AAR's review here. I wanted more of Fitz and Millie and thought that Hastings and Helena got too much airtime in this book. Maybe I am biased, but I think they also got quite a bit of airtime in Beguiling the Beauty. Having said that, I really enjoyed Ravishing the Heiress and got to bed past 2.30am reading it in one sitting! It does remind me a bit of Heyer's A Civil Contract, although here the hero is more forthcoming about his feelings for the heroine. Millie is a lovely heroine, and I think she is also mentally one of the strongest heroines I have read in a long time. I can only think of Melanthe in Kinsale's For My Lady's Heart who can compare (although Melanthe was more cunning and inscrutable). I do feel that although Sherry Thomas is a very good writer, her books always seem to end in an unsatisfactory manner for me - usually I feel the ending is too rushed and could be developed more. But all in all, this is a very good book, and I loved how Fitz and Millie were really good friends. It made me think of Loretta Chase's Last Night's Scandal too - I just like friends-to-lovers stories.
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Winnie



Joined: 07 Sep 2009
Posts: 94
Location: Utica NY USA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I loved Millie and Fitz. The plot was really well done. I thought that the ending should have been about 20 more pages. I did not mind Helena and Hastings, I think that their book will be excellent.
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stl_reader



Joined: 03 Aug 2011
Posts: 226
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

During most of the time I was reading RtH, it had a B+ feel to me. But by the end, it had settled into a solid B. I admit I had a love-hate relationship with this book. Liked the writing, did not much like the characters.

***POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW***

What I liked:

1. In my opinion. RtH was much better than BtB, in terms of construction, tightness, use of language, and a more credible story line. Sherry Thomas has a way with words and imagery that really pulls me in.

2. It was a compelling read! Much of the story was "angsty" for me because of Millie's constant longing for--and repeated disappointment at failing to achieve--her husband's love. But I knew that there would be some sort of turning point that would lead us to an HEA, and that kept me reading.

3. Thomas' usual flashback technique worked really well here. Not only did it give us increasing insight into the evolution of this marriage and the H/h's "partnership," it kept us reading. If this book had been linear, starting with the marriage and then taking us, chapter by chapter, through the ensuing years, would I have been able to stick with it long enough to get to 1896? I'm not sure.

4. I liked that Thomas did not shy away from bringing Fitz's (pre-consummation-with-Millie) sex life. Millie's struggle to accept it as part of the bargain she'd made with him was interesting to see. And it emphasized how she longed for him to see her as the person he wanted sex with.

What I didn't like:

1. For about 3/4 of the book, I didn't like either of the two principals. (Yet I kept reading, which says a lot for the author's ability to keep the reader engaged.) In fact, I hated Fitz right off the bat. His shameful treatment of Millie before, and in the first year or so of, their marriage totally chapped my hide. Self-centered much?

My Millie dislike grew more slowly as I realized that, both by nature and upbringing, she was not going to stand up for herself when I thought she should have (or in the manner I thought she should have). I thought she was basically a martyr--gladly sacrificing her own happiness so that Fitz could be happy. It's one thing to do that at age 17, when you're inexperienced in life and you are still under your parents' guidance and doing what they want you to do. But really, once Isabelle came back into town, I expected Millie to realize that she and Fitz had a good life and that she shouldn't just let him go without a fight. Have some pride, woman!

It was only in the last few chapters of the book that I knew enough about the marriage, and saw enough growth in the characters, that I stopped disliking them. I cannot say even now that I love them, though.

For one thing, IMO, there was not enough (if any) contrition on Fitz's part for his past treatment of Millie and his blindness regarding her feelings. You know, even when he was deciding between Isabelle and Millie, his concern was how Isabelle would react if he rejected her. And could he really put his own wishes above his promise to her? There was no thought about how he might hurt Millie, indeed, how he would continue to interact with Millie, his business partner and one-time lover, if he took up with Isabelle. This bugged me.

As for Millie, even when she finally (thank God!) did draw a line in the sand regarding his choice, she never really displayed the kind of fierce pride I think she should have.

2. There was no final "heart to heart" talk. At least in NQaH, Leo and Bryony talked about their respective roles in hurting their marriage and what they wished they'd done differently.

3. The timeline. It confused me. So...in two years--based on the chapter headings that displayed the year--Henley Park went from being a run down eyesore to a lovely estate that folks wanted to visit? Hmmm.... Likewise, it looks to me like Isabelle had two babies in 1890, and one of those babies was born in August (after the house party). Please correct me if I'm wrong about that, because even if baby #1 had been born January 1, I think August is a little early for baby #2.

4. Use of some modern language/vocabulary. "Nitty gritty," for example. ("Lordships didn't involve themselves in the nitty-gritty details of how their money was made.") I had to look it up when I saw it in this book, and the consensus seems to be that it originated in the States during the 20th century.

5. The six-month intimacy period. At first, I thought Fitz intended to allow up to six months for Millie to get pregnant, but that he could leave sooner if pregnancy were achieved sooner. Then I realized it was a solid six-month deal. But then he stops sleeping with her, because he feels he's "promised" to another (Isabelle). So--how are they going to have a child if he's not sleeping with her? I'm confused. Of course, I'm also confused about why he never felt a twinge of guilt that if they did have a child, he would be somewhat peripheral to the child's life.

The only way Sherry Thomas can make this up to me is to have some lengthy and luxurious Fitz/Millie convos (preferably pre- or post-coital) in the next book, lol.


YMMV Smile
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
Posts: 1442

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stl_reader, I agree with most of your analysis, but I think you are too kind about this book. I'm beginning to think that Sherry Thomas has jumped the shark for me. I definitely, unlike so many people here, will not be buying or even reading her next book.

The ill-entitled RAVISHING THE HEIRESS reminds me of the beginning romances in the 80's, not because Thomas gives us love at first rape (as a talented reviewer wrote here months ago), but because readers suffered through hundreds of pages of separation, misunderstandings, anger, and division, and then, and then received two pages of happiness. It was like taking a long and difficult trip to Paris, only to have to leave immediately after glancing at the Eiffel Tower.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS



The hero, Fitz agonizes about the woman he loves and prefers to his wife for 95% of the book. This is painful to read, as we know that Millie truly loves him and demonstrates it, in her calm acceptance, every day. When his former great love returns as a widow, when he finally realizes that he wants to be with his wife in the last few pages of the book, he STILL is in great anguish, worrying about how she (the other woman) will cope if he leaves her; after all, he knows that it is she to whom he owes his allegiance. I waited in vain for him to catch himself, to realize with a start that not only does he love his wife, but that he has betrayed her callously and repeatedly. Yes, he gradually, toward the end, realizes that he loves Millie, but this book lacks the climax implicit with such a plot: the big, sincere apology that indicates that he regrets, with every atom, the pain he so ignorantly inflicted on his wife. Instead, for about half a page, we get his shaking Millie, when she comes back, hours after he has expected her. The climax, that the whole book demands, occurs off stage. We do not see his fear that she has left him, what his immaturity and self-absorption may have cost him Millie. Instead, he says, "You should have told me that you loved me years ago. Why didn't you?" This is too much like the faithless husband blaming his young wife for an unsatisfying marriage. The scale is not even between 17-year old daughter of trade who marries and the man who spends his honeymoon, totally drunk and in apparent contemplation of sucide (why DOES he have a gun, even if it's a toy, anyway?), a man who, from the beginning and throughout the marriage, proclaims his love for another woman, who moons after she weds, who is distraught when she has children, and when she returns as a widow, he rushes to her side. Even when he plans to leave Millie to live in adultery with his "true love," he decides that Millie (for her own good) should give him a legal heir. Are we, as the readers, supposed to be satisfied with Thomas's total ignoring what any reader must want? Instead of Fitz awakening to his own stupidity, callousness, and blindness, Thomas continues to inflict more pain and unwarrented responsibility on Mlllie by the shift in focus to her complicity by her silence. Are we supposed to be charmed by Fitz's inquiry of "Why did you tell me that you loved me, years ago?" instead of outraged that he was too blind and besotted with another woman to see his wife's love every day in every word and deed for eight years?
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desiderata



Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Posts: 226

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lynda, thank you. What you wrote was exactly what I anticipated from this book and why I won't read it. I witness plenty of angst and heartache in real life and I read to escape it, not revel in it. Only a nice long grovel coupled with a solid demonstration of HEA could make up for what Fitz did to Millie. Also, I can't stand quietly long suffering heroines - I don't admire their "quiet strength," they annoy me.
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 682

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:59 am    Post subject: Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas Reply with quote

I agree with stl_reader's comprehensive analysis of this book too. And I also agree with Lynda X's points about Ravishing the Heiress - however, I enjoyed it despite those issues. This is a marriage of convenience story, where the hero loves someone else for most of the book. And there's a bit of I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face like Henry Higgins says in My Fair Lady when Fitz realises that he does care a lot about Millie. I think I buy into this kind of story more because I know of people who had arranged marriages who then fell in love with their spouses, and to me that is incredibly romantic. The long-suffering wife (usually the husband is not the long-suffering one) who finally triumphs is also more a trope in women's fiction with some romance, than in the strict romance genre. The heroine's lack of empowerment in some areas (certainly not when it comes to wealth) frustrates us readers. I think Millie is someone whom many of us cannot really identify with - we who are empowered and would prefer to leave a man like Fitz (uncaring, selfish, callous, unrepentant of his carrying a torch for his first love, etc) and find someone more deserving of our love. And I think that is where the crux of the matter is - she loved him, and to her it was good enough that she was his wife and could share his life. It's a very self-sacrificing love. The two protagonists are very different, and I think this story shows us a love which is selfless on the heroine's side, and she loved him more than he loved her. As romance readers, I think many of us prefer a story where the man is the one who loves the heroine more, and is more demonstrative. We also very seldom see romances featuring such self-sacrificing love. The one that comes to my mind is Francis Crawford and his heroine in the Lymond Chronicles' Checkmate - and that series is not really categorised as romance (although it does have DIK status at AAR).
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Winnie



Joined: 07 Sep 2009
Posts: 94
Location: Utica NY USA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with msaggie It is not your typical romance novel, but none of Sherry Thomas' books are. I just loved it!
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merryweather



Joined: 27 May 2010
Posts: 531
Location: Encinitas, CA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just popping in to say that I really loved it, though I do agree with others that I would have liked a bigger payoff at the end--more of a release to all the emotion building up over the book. I am hoping that Thomas is going to feature them a bit in the next book--since she did show a few private scenes with Lexington and Venetia in this book I think it will be the case with Fitz and Millie. This was her first group of interconnected novels that she has ever written and I think she approached it as one story broken into three books--they are very much meant to be read together.

Spoilers:







I know people think Fitz is being a big jerk to Millie throughout their marriage by having mistresses and not realizing that she loves him. I see it this way:

    *Millie tells him when they are first married that she was in love with someone else. She lies about this all during their marriage. Fitz feels that they have this in common. He feels comfortable talking to her about his heartache since he thinks she feels the same for another.

    *When Fitz gives up drinking, he takes up another addiction--women. They are nothing more than a physical release for him and they help him to forget for a time. Isabelle is lost to him and he sees Millie as a partner, not a lover, so why not.

    *Fitz does esteem Millie and loves her as a friend--he brings her into the business, he trusts her and enjoys their partnership. He even fantasizes about when the eight years are up so he can be with her physically. But he mainly sees her as a friend--he has built his life like this with her agreement.

    *Yes, he is clueless about how much she loves him. He is caught up in his own pain and he believes her when she says there is someone else. She is very self-contained and only we are privileged to know her inner thoughts.



I liked how when they finally came together at the end of the eight years that she stuns him with her ferocity and rips the blinders from his eyes--that was very satisfying. It was a whole new world for him and he finally started to be able to read her fleeting expressions and begin to understand what is under her quiet surface.

As far as Isabelle goes--yes, she was clingy and annoying. She had held on to the dream of them someday being together all of her adult life and she couldn't understand that he had changed over those years. But I don't think she was a bad person--she was afraid and alone and felt Fitz was hers--especially when he told her repeatedly that he would always love her and her alone. But that scene when Isabelle goes uninvited to the train station and Millie gets out of the cab and sees them together--UG. Most painful thing I've read in a while. And then he comes home and tries to apologize get Millie to go to tea--oh man. I tear up just thinking about it.

There was a lot of talk about love and friendship and the scene with Millie talking with Venetia about love was one of my very favorite parts:

Quote:
"We've only ever been friends. Friendship is love without the wings and who would ever choose something without wings?" <snip>
Venetia gazed at Millie, her beautiful face saddened but no less radiant. "No, my dear Millie, you are wrong. Love without friendship is like a kite, aloft only when the winds are favorable. Friendship is what gives love its wings.


Anyway, I did love it--and I am biased because I think Thomas is putting out the best new romance out there right now and I feel people hold her to a different standard--I think her work can stand up to it--but when I buy and read some of the utter crap that gets the same letter reviews I really wonder.
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For the first time in her life, she saw exactly what she’d thrown away when she decided to have him by means fair or foul……that she’d not saved him but wronged him by consigning to him all the ability of a box turtle to make his own choices. ~Gigi
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mirole



Joined: 06 Aug 2010
Posts: 278
Location: Toronto, Ontario

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

merryweather wrote:

Anyway, I did love it--and I am biased because I think Thomas is putting out the best new romance out there right now and I feel people hold her to a different standard--I think her work can stand up to it--but when I buy and read some of the utter crap that gets the same letter reviews I really wonder.


Merryweather, thank you so much for expressing exactly how I feel about Sherry Thomas.

I haven not read this book yet, just the 1st one but will read it soon (so I am avoiding all the spoilers). Looking forward to it.
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 514

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finished it last night. I agree with the posters who said the book is too short and ended too abruptly. After all this angsting and pining Fitz finally buys a clue, they barely are together like 5 minutes and then the book ends and we are on to the next couple. I wanted more of their togetherness. And just like with the first book in this series the sex that we got was kind of on the tame side. Thomas can do the hot stuff - so where is it??

On the whole I thought Thomas did an excellent job portraying these two very young people, teenagers when their story starts, trying to make the best of the bad hand they were dealt. While Fitz did hurt Millie with his denseness and blindness to her feelings, Millie hurt herself with her emotional reticence. With some guys you gotta spell it out or they never catch on - and Fitz was definitely one of those guys. Besides Millie he was the last to know that he had fallen in love with his wife. I think Isabella knew before him too.

I really don't know how he and Isabella thought they would make this work without hurting themselves, their families, her children, etc.. Well, one thing Fitz and Isabella had in common besides that immature teen love of theirs was that both kind of had the emotional intelligence of a bunch of fruit bats. Luckily Fitz came to his senses before he ruined everything.
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erika



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 487

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank y'all for giving so many spoilers and insights. I like imperfect heroes and heroines with quiet strength. I know the hero spending much of RtH being in love with someone else will annoy me greatly as I like to see a hero and heroine spending much of the novel falling for each other building their romance. Since I was on the fence about buying RtH now I'll get it at the ubs.
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Anne_Gresley



Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 47

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

merryweather wrote:
Anyway, I did love it--and I am biased because I think Thomas is putting out the best new romance out there right now and I feel people hold her to a different standard--I think her work can stand up to it--but when I buy and read some of the utter crap that gets the same letter reviews I really wonder.


This. I love what you said here so, so much.
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graceC



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 468

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stlreader & LindaX, thank you for being blunt with your take on this book. Reading it confirmed my decision not to read this book. I've found her books to have too much angst without the satisfying pay off at the end. That's probably why I never felt the need to re-read her books. Not because I don't like angsty books, I do, but I better have a good heart warming ending in the end to balance the scale a bit. Unfortunately, only very few authors can pull it off and Sherry Thomas is not one of them.
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaime, they "had the emotional intelligence of a bunch of fruit bats"? Too, too funny. I'll try to remember that one (there are so many people that it can apply to).
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 514

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wink Takes a bow.

One thing I learned in life is that there are a lot of otherwise very smart people who are emotionally quite stupid. Romance fiction is full of the kind - indeed they are the engine of romance in some ways. (Think of all the romances you have read which would have been over in 3 chapters had the hero or the heroine - or both - not acted like a dumb-ass.)
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