Friday, May 25, 2012

Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas

Reading Romances Challenge for May:
1) Read a futuristic or sci-fi romance.
2) Read a book by a favorite author or from a favorite genre.
3) Read a book by recommended by a friend
4) Memorial Day: Read book whose author is now deceased.
5) Mother’s Day: Read a book where the heroine is a mother, the hero or the heroine spends the book searching for or trying to get to their mother.

* * *

Let me preface this review by saying that I have been waiting for this book for 2 years (Sherry Thomas last released a book in May 2010) -- and, when this book was finally available and Book Depository sent me an email telling me my copy was on its way, I have been waiting every Tuesday (that's when the mailman usually brings my books) for this book to arrive.

It arrived yesterday -- and I read it immediately.

And the wait was worth it.

Venetia Townsend Easterbrook has been married and widowed twice before the age of 22. She's been a widow for 8 years now and is enjoying a sojourn in America. She does not know the Duke of Lexington and has never been introduced to him nor do they move in the same social circles -- she knows of his reputation as a scholar of fossils and so she attends his lecture.

It comes as a surprise to her when, during that lecture in America, he uses her as an example for what he claims are the deceptive dangers of beauty.

Venetia is mortified and humiliated at having her whole life laid out, dissected, analyzed and interpreted incorrectly by someone she doesn't know, in front of an audience so, when she finds an opportunity to exact revenge on Christian, she takes it.

Venetia books passage on the Rhodesia, knowing full well that Christian would be on the same ship. When she set out on her revenge, she intended to leave her mark on the Duke of Lexington -- to impress herself on him and show him just how formidable she is. All she wants is his heart on a plate before they land in England. And the plan works too well --

Christian de Monfort fell in love with Venetia almost 10 years ago and has remained in love with her through her first marriage ... and then her second marriage. As a man of science, he relies on tangible fact to prove or disprove his theories -- and everything he has observed about Venetia leads him to believe that she is a fortune-hunting opportunist. (This does not change the way he feels about her, though -- the attraction remains.)

He instantly regrets his indiscreet use of her as an example during his lecture but he doesn't realize the far-reaching implications of his thoughtlessness.

Because of this novel, I have come to appreciate the word "impression" and its many meanings. An impression has multiple degrees and can be something vague and evanescent to something deep and lasting. (See impression at

When Christian first saw Venetia, it forever changed him. (To say that she made a very good first impression on him would be an understatement.) Like the fossils that he studies, that one moment imprinted itself permanently into Christian's mind and heart.

It was not allure, but grace, like the sight of land to a shipwrecked man. And he, who hadn't been on a capsized vessel since he was six ... suddenly felt as if he'd been adrift in the open ocean his entire life.


He felt a sharp, sweet ache in his chest: His life would never again be complete without her.
- p. 3

His succeeding observation and conclusion regarding Venetia's character is an example of another sense of the word "impression" -- (see meaning #5 at -- formed from an incomplete knowledge of Venetia, he accepted what he saw (and heard) as truth. He then sublimates what he feels for her into his research and stufy -- even writing a paper about how her beauty is a detriment to civilization.

The journey our hero and heroine take is both literal and figurative: they are on the Rhodesia returning to England and they have also unwittingly embarked on a journey that forces them to confront their past and present (mis)conceptions.

On board the ship, much like an expedition, our hero and heroine excavate in order to discover and what they find surprises them: he is not so distant, staid and serious with her and she is not the terrible beauty her first husband (and the Duke -- initially) thought her to be.

I love Christian and Venetia -- they are very certain of themselves and walk through life confident and unafraid -- it makes their situation ironic: here are two people who are very assured of their place in the universe and are very good at reading other people (see Chapter 6) but they cannot properly read each other.

They are both so fiercely independent and self-reliant -- so perfectly balanced and suited for each other.

Sherry Thomas looks into how we come to know and love people: with eyes wide open, Christian and Venetia could not see beyond their prejudices but, blindfolded and veiled, they are able to see each other clearly.

Beguiling the Beauty is the first book in Sherry Thomas's new series about the Fitzhugh family. The second book, Ravishing the Heiress is scheduled for release in June 2012. The third book, Tempting the Bride, will be released October 2012.

(Yes, I have already pre-ordered the two books.)

Note: In her acknowledgements, Sherry Thomas mentions Judith Ivory's Beast as having inspired this book. Have you read it? What do you think?


  1. Haha it was a good read! However, the one glaring point siguro sa story for me is her method of revenge. Talaga lang ha, sleeping with the enemy. It's always a win-win situation for the enemy!

    1. Hmmm -- how I understood it, she did not intend to sleep with him -- only to beguile him to the point of no return.

      (But she ends up there with him.)

      But, true about the "win-win" for the hero.



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