I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
Ravishing the Heiress is about an arranged marriage between Millie, the only child of a wealthy canned goods merchant and Fitz, a man who comes into an earldom with properties nearly in ruins. Due to this arrangement, Fitz and Millie agree to a marriage in name only for six (then it expands to eight) years. It's set in England in the late Victorian era and told in dual timelines--the first, from their meeting and through the early years of their marriage, and the second, the date Fitz's childhood sweetheart returns, now a widow, and they plan to resume their relationship. Yeah. The hero, after eight years of marriage to the heroine plans to set up his former love as his mistress.
This was the first Sherry Thomas story I read. I have mixed feelings about this story, but I definitely am going to read more of her backlist. Her writing is gorgeous and angsty. I loved her voice. There were threads early on that reminded me of 90s-era Judith McNaught stories, where you can feel how much your heart is going to break. (Ah, the swoons!)
But, this story, in the end, didn't really work for me. It's a friends-to-lovers and most of the book the hero, Fitz is in love with another woman, Isabelle. He's clueless about Millie, who secretly has loved him from their first meeting. I kept waiting for Fitz to show that he had earned Millie's love and that didn't quite happen. Then I waited for him to have an epic grovel. That also didn't happen. The ending felt rushed and Isabelle stuck around WAY TOO LONG. Still, there were quiet, sweet moments and a few smexy ones between Fitz and Millie that were lovely. I have mixed emotions about Millie as well. While reading it, she seemed to be protecting her heart and too proud to just put her heart out there. However, by the end I really wanted her to just stand up for herself. So while I'm not sure the hero deserved her, Millie gave him so much room to trample over her feelings (and sense of self-respect) too.
Hopefully Thomas' other books will work better for me because there were several things in this story that had me hooked and craving more.