It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read and reviewed, but I’ve had some time this summer to get in some reading for fun. This is a book I chose to read on a plane flying to Rome to meet up with some friends. Upon arrival I shared it with them, but their reactions to the book were much different than mine. I’d read the first in the series, Beguiling the Beauty, and I would have to say these books do need to be read in order, as there are threads through the first one that teases the action in Ravishing the Heiress. Likewise, there is a continuing thread that will be wrapped up in the third book, Tempting the Bride.
Millicent Graves has always known she was expected to Marry Well. She’s quiet and rather plain. She’s also spent her life mastering things that will hopefully help elevate her family through her marriage. Her father owns a company that sells canned goods, but the taste of that makes sure the only noble title willing to marry her is the Earl of Fitzhugh. Unfortunately, the Earl passes away unexpectedly and Millie then is supposed to marry his cousin who inherits the title.
The new earl is much younger and Millie falls head over heels in love with him at first sight. She’s never expected to feel such strong emotions at any point in her life (she thinks of herself as milquetoast) and is uneasy with the idea of marrying someone she feels so strongly for. Things are complicated when she finds out he’s in love with someone else and is marrying her only because of the money and the fact his guardian (he’s not yet 21) demands he do his duty to the title.
Fitz, as the new Earl is known, is forced to give up his love for a friend’s sister to marry Millie. Needless to say, he handles the whole situation as a young, not-yet-mature male would. He does end up hurting Millie’s feelings at first, but over time they form a friendship and bond that helps him grow up and make the best of his marriage.
Millie is a character that is easy to sympathize with. She sees her situation and knows she can’t show Fitz how she feels, but she doesn’t want to see him hurt either. It’s heartbreaking to go with Millie through the years seeing Fitz’s actions and his own heartbreak. She handles everything with a stiff upper lip and guards her true feelings for far too long.
Fitz’s and Millie’s repression of emotions caused no end of consternation to my friends. What I find emotionally wrenching and understandable on Millie’s part, they feel she should have been more vocal with Fitz and, perhaps, even left him in the dust. Fitz they hate even more for his treatment of Millie during their marriage, as well as his continual love for someone else.
My reaction isn’t as extreme against Fitz. He is forced by his situation to do his duty rather than what he had planned to do, so I understand what motivates his actions. However, the end is rather rushed and he should have done a bit more to show his changed worldview and acknowledge his behavior over the years. Perhaps there will be some small continuation of Fitz and Millie in the next book, which follows Fitz’s twin Helena and his best friend Viscount Hastings.
Millicent understands the terms of her arranged marriage all too well. She gets to be a Countess by marrying an impoverished Earl. And in return, the Earl Fitzhugh receives the benefit of her vast wealth, saving his family from bankruptcy. Because of her youth, they have agreed to wait eight years before consummating the marriage—and then, only to beget an heir. After which, they will lead separate lives.
It is a most sensible arrangement. Except for one little thing. Somehow Millie has fallen head over heels in love with her husband. Her husband, who has become her very best friend, but nothing more… Her husband, who plans to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful and newly widowed Isabelle, as soon as he has honored the pact with his wife…
As the hour they truly become husband-and-wife draws near, both Millie and Fitzhugh must face the truth in their hearts. Has their pact bred only a great friendship—or has it, without either of them quite noticing, given rise to a great love?
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: