Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy, #2
Hero: George Edward Arthur Granville Fitzhugh (Fitz)
Heroine: Millicent Graves
Date of Publication: July 3, 2012
Started On: July 20, 2012
Finished On: July 22, 2012
I have been meaning to get this review written for quite sometime now. Well, ever since I finished the book a couple of days back. I wanted to write the review when the essence of the story was fresh on my mind, when the feelings that coursed through me as I read through every single page of the book still lingered deep inside of me so that I could do the book the justice that it so deserves. But alas, life and its various blunders happened and here I am penning the review a few days later and yet, the remnants of a story that made me cry god honest real tears still lingers on and I wonder whether I would be able to read a story that even remotely compares to this one anytime soon.
I should have actually being prepared when I took on this book on a recommendation from Brie at Romance Around the Corner. That girl has an uncanny ability of recommending books that speaks to this twisted needy heart of mine and Ravishing the Heiress certainly did that and more. And I say I should have been prepared because my one encounter with Sherry Thomas and the way she writes came right after when I first started reviewing and stumbled across her book Not Quite a Husband. And man, was that a story that had my gut churning and my insides doing cartwheels all around.
Ravishing the Heiress is the second book in the Fitzhugh Trilogy of which the first book I have not read. But I am definitely looking forward to the 3rd and final book in the series which is to come out on October this year. Sherry certainly leaves us with tantalizing glimpses into the story of Helena and Viscount Hastings not to feel otherwise and I for one cannot wait!
Its the year 1888 and Millicent Graves (Millie) is getting ready for the final phase of Operation Marry Well for which she has been preparing for all her life. Discipline, control and self-denial has always been part of her upbringing, love never a part of the equation for which she has been practicing for up till now. Millie has always been the obedient sort, the one who never makes any untoward waves, does as expected and retreats when need it be. And when at the tender age of 16 years she encounters the new Earl of Fitzhugh, her heart takes that undeniable leap and tumbles headlong into that unknown abyss called love which we all clamor for.
Earl Fitzhugh is 19 when he becomes an earl which hadn’t seemed that terrible at all at first. But when he knows of the situation which would require him to marry well in order to put the state of the affairs of his estate and financial woes of the family to rest, attaining earldom suddenly doesn’t seem like the best thing to happen, especially when it means giving up on the woman he has vowed that he would love for the rest of his life. Though Fitz knows its by no fault of Millie that she has to marry him, he can’t help but feel the deep throes of despair overtake him even at the mere thought of marrying her and living with a woman he doesn’t love for the rest of his life. But Millie offers him a way out, a reprieve that would give him a period of 8 years until the marriage would be consummated and that’s the only thought that gives him the slightest room to breathe as he prepares himself for an ordeal that seems like it would never ever end.
What Sherry Thomas takes us on is a journey filled with so many beautiful and poignant moments that I couldn’t help but have this huge huge lump in my throat at all times. There was a time or two when I thought that I was going to end up with a serious medical condition if it didn’t let up; but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There is a beauty in the way Sherry writes her stories and brings her characters to life, a dreamlike quality to the love and emotions that she invokes in her readers and I for one was glad to be a part of it as I let myself be catapulted right along with Millie and Fitz in their journey towards happily ever after.
First comes along the friendship, borne out of the need to have a semblance of normalcy in their marriage. A bond forged out of Millie’s need to see the man she love shake the grief that weighs down on him from day one of their marriage. Their quest to put their estate to rights, to move ahead in their business affairs and day to day mundane activities brings them closer, Fitz coming to rely more on Millie than he would have ever envisioned. And then the 8 year milestone comes up and along with it comes the woman who has never been far from Fitz’s mind, the woman he has made a promise to himself and her that he would love for all eternity.
What Fitz takes on as completing his end of the deal or the bargain that they shook on 8 years back turns out to be the most anticipated event of his life, the feelings that course through him when he thinks of leaving Millie and what they have together giving him that odd ache in his heart which he doesn’t know how to identify as. It would take a whole box of tissues to get through the scene during which the final act takes place, all that pent up longing on Millie’s part acting as a sheer aphrodisiac for the reader, that iron-clad control of hers completely breaking apart under the tender assault of Fitz’s brand of seduction. As the scene progresses, the seducer in turn becomes the seduced and I would have to say that that would be one scene that would forever be permanently etched on my mind.
One would think that Fitz being the total clueless fool he is when it comes to Millie and the fact that he is forced to marry a woman he doesn’t love would make him an ogre, a man that would earn the disapproving frowns from the feminists all around. But nothing could be further from the truth as Fitz is a man who demands nothing lesser than the complete and utter love of the reader even though I would have loved to paint an arrow in bold red color and point it towards Millie a time or two. But his utter clueless nature when it comes to his wife whose heart remains a mystery to him is what makes the story so, so good, the angst so well delivered that I couldn’t have asked for more.
The only thing I found disappointing as the other readers is the fact that the ending seemed a trifle bit too rushed, the resolving of the main issue that had been holding back Fritz just a tad too ‘easy’ for my tastes. I wanted the best and only the best for both Fitz and Millie and especially Millie who earned my undying love throughout the story for her patience, perseverance and unselfish nature though she is no doormat heroine.
If you are a fan of historical romances, if you want a story that would take you away on a breathtaking journey, if you want to be swept away by the sheer magic of words alone, pick this up and never look back. I guarantee you an amazing read that would make you cry buckets before you are through! Kudos to Sherry Thomas for another story that amazes and awes in equal doses. Some authors create magic – and Sherry is one of them.
“Was unhappiness really so invisible? Or did people simply prefer to turn away, as if from lepers?”
“Rain came down in sheets. It had been a miserable spring. Already he despaired of ever again walking under an unclouded sky.”
“Perhaps unrequited love was like a specter in the house, a presence that brushed at the edge of senses, a heat in the dark, a shadow under the sun.”
He was summertime itself, young, luminous, lit from within by rekindled hopes and reawakened dreams. And every beggar along his path—herself included—could expect redoubled generosity and kindness.
It was the beginning of the end.
Or perhaps, it was only the end of something that was never meant to begin.
Even now her body yearned to be closer to him. She wanted to press her nose into his skin and inhale hungrily—he always smelled as if he’d just taken a walk across a sunny meadow. She wanted to rub her palm against his jaw to feel the beginning of stubbles. She wanted to slide her hands underneath his shirt and learn every single shape and texture, with the fierce dedication she’d once put into mastering the Grandes Études.
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 hers were of the latter kind.
She would never stop hoping.
But tonight, after the carriages left, there would be Millie, her scent like a breeze from their lavender field at the height of summer, her skin as smooth as the finest velvet.
Their eyes met. She flushed. Desire tumbled through him.
He kissed her on her ear, a kiss with the barest hint of moisture to it. She could not breath for the electricity of it, a violent spark of pleasure that shook and scarred. His fingers caressed her shoulders. His lips pressed into her exposed nape. Dark, hot sensations spiked into her.
Make no sounds. Do not, under any circumstances, make any sounds.
She faltered. A whimper of unutterable pleasure escaped her tightly clenched teeth.
Deep inside her, a dam that had been ceaselessly reinforced crumbled. Years upon years of pent-up desires flooded her. Suddenly she couldn’t care less that she must remain quiet and pliant.
She wanted. She wanted. She wanted.
She gripped him by the lapel and yanked him to her.
His climax began gathering again, rising toward a point of no return. He didn’t know if he could restrain himself this time: He was too close, too near to being overwhelmed.
She cried out, trembling exclamations.
He lost all control, his release hot, violent, and endless.
Then he made love to her not only as if he had never experienced lovemaking before, but no one had.
And in the depth of her eyes were all these years—seasons they’d known, paths they’d trod.
Slowly he entered her again. Everything reflected in her gaze: shyness, yearning, ripples of pleasure.
The pleasure turned fierce, then ferocious. He labored to draw breath. In the wash of her climax, she closed her eyes. He closed his own eyes and yielded to the moment.
Love without friendship is like a kite, aloft only when the winds are favorable. Friendship is what gives love its wings.