Ravishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy, #2) - Sherry Thomas Full disclosure here: Angsty storylines are not my cup of tea. More to the point, angsty storylines are my brain's Kryptonite. So what's a girl to do when she opens a book to discover two relentlessly annoying people angsting over each other (and other people) for a couple hundred pages? Well, snark about it, of course. It's the only way my brain can process the fucking PAIN. Okay?

Seriously. THIS is what happens to me if I lay off on the snark. This is also how I envisioned the characters for 75% of the book.

I would be hard-pressed to call Ravishing the Heiress a romance. Sure, there's a bit of sex, and the characters wangst constantly about love and hearts and marriage - blah, blah, blah. But when it comes down to the plot itself, there's nothing particularly romantic going on here. Most of the characters just really, really suck.

(as told from the immature, emo-teen perspective that Fitz uses for 3/4 of the book)

So there's this girl with tons of money because her family got rich from canning sardines? Her name's Millie, but her folks are totally not in with high society because EW - sardines. Right? Anyways, even though Millie's super plain and not very interesting, her parents manage to arrange a match between her and this totes hawt guy who just inherited an earldom? His name's Fitz, and once again, he's super duper dreamy. Millie falls in love with Fitz at first sight, which is soooo romantic, but there's a problem because Fitz's heart belongs to some chick named Isabelle. And Isabelle's like, "Don't get married, Fitz! I know that if you don't marry for money, your title, estate, and family will be forced to live in poverty, but this is 1880-something, and a girl has needs." And Fitz is like, "I'll love you for all time, Girl I've Only Kissed Once! But I must do this for the sake of my family and my honor. However, to prove my undying love for you, I'll be the whiniest, most irrational dick EVER about the marriage of convenience that will make me super wealthy. M'kay?"

Millie totally gets that Fitz has a love boner for a prettier, more interesting girl, so despite her own feelings on the matter, she proposes that they just, like, abstain from sex for a few years because she totally doesn't have feelings for him or anything (blatant lies). And Fitz jumps on that idea like a dog on a bone. He even proposes, "You say we should wait to have sex for 6 years? How about 8? Because no one in this marriage will ever have needs. That would be unrealistic." So Fitz and Millie get married and don't bone for 8 whole years. And just when it's about time to start jumping on the heir-creating love wagon, Isabelle returns to London as a widow. She totally wants Fitz back, and Fitz wants her, too. Will Millie ever open her freaking mouth and tell her husband, "No! You may NOT take all my money through marriage and run off with some dirty mistress without ever giving me a real chance," or will Fitz end up with the girl of his wet dreams and abandon his wife for good? Geez! Can you FEEL the romance?

Millie the Brainless Martyr:
This, the most disturbing image I've used in a review yet, is representative of Millie's story arc during her marriage to Fitz.

The way this woman pants after Fitz is disgusting. I could understand it at the beginning of the marriage because she's only 16 and believes in love at first sight. Of course she'd make a fool of herself over a hot body and handsome face. But after the 8 years was up, and Fitz was still parading his line of mistresses in her face and acting like that type of thing wouldn't embarrass a woman in the 1890's? Come on, Millie! Grow some velociraptor balls and stop melting into a fucking puddle every time Fitz does something halfway decent, like asking you to make advertising decisions for the business that YOU brought to the marriage. This girl is the quintessential doormat. Even though it breaks her heart, she has casual conversations with Fitz about his mistresses. When Isabelle comes back to town, Millie falls over backwards to make it incredibly easy for Fitz to LEAVE HER FOR GOOD and live a loving, devoted life with the girl who he never stopped reminding everyone he loved when he was a freaking boy. Noooo, Millie couldn't insist that Fitz be a normal man and act with discretion about his mistresses and imagined soul-mate. She needs to be his best buddy about the whole ordeal because she LOVES him so damn much. Fuck. This. Shit. The whole time, I was begging Millie to find her inner-TSTL heroine and throw the biggest hissy fit London's ever seen, but she never does. She even APOLOGIZES to Fitz at the end for never telling him the truth about her feelings. Sure, that was really stupid, Millie, but have some PRIDE, woman!

Fitz the Selfish Man-Child:
"My name's Fitz, and I really want to tell you about my feelings. Do you have any tissues?"

This man is incredibly unattractive. Sure, he might have a pretty face, but there's nothing charming or handsome about a guy who whines and pouts like a toddler. He HAD a choice at the beginning of the story. He could marry Millie and have some cash to renovate his dilapidated estate, or he could run off with Isabelle and be annoying with her for eternity. He chooses the money! So don't go crying to the rest of us about your "broken heart," you fortune hunter. Fitz's behavior during their honeymoon was perhaps the most pathetic, dumbest thing I've read in a long time. He doesn't seem to dislike Millie for any particular reason beyond having to marry her for money, so why he finds it appropriate to drink himself half to death and destroy furniture and other breakable things EVERY NIGHT is beyond me. He spends so much time feeling sorry for himself and angsting over his great adolescent love that I'm surprised Millie doesn't attempt to have him committed. At one point, she gets all upset because she walks in on Fitz staring down the barrel of a gun. Convinced that he's suicidal, she confronts him about it A COUPLE OF DAYS LATER (because it's always responsible to let your supposedly suicidal husband keep up his antics for a few more days), and he thinks her concern is hilarious because it was only a toy gun. How fucking melodramatic of you, Fitz. This guy is the biggest baby ever. Later, when he's considering leaving his wife for Isabelle, all he worries about is making sure that he and Isabelle are happy. Even after her realizes that he doesn't want to run off with the woman, he still puts her needs before his wife who he apparently loves. Seriously. This fucking guy.

Isabelle the Boring Home Wrecker:
Why did everybody tip-toe around this woman in the story? She really had no particular claim on Fitz to begin with, so the whole argument that she was the wronged party - even from Millie's perspective - got old incredibly fast. Plus, Isabelle gives very little reason to like her character. She's flighty, selfish, possessive, and apparently unconcerned by how her children would be received if she carries on openly with a married man. Even though Millie's a long-suffering martyr with a wet blanket complex, I STILL would choose her over the annoyingly vapid Isabelle. But since Isabelle is treated like a glass figurine from beginning to end, huge portions of the story are devoted to a wholly uninspired character. I kind of wanted her to die in a carriage accident so I wouldn't have to read about Fitz's obsession with her anymore.

The Stupid Enablers:
Millie's love for Fitz is NO SECRET to their family and friends. But does anyone say something to Fitz about it? Maybe just a gentle, "Hey, dude, maybe your wife feels more than she lets on. How about you stop being such an insensitive prick?" OF COURSE NOT! That would just spoil the nonsensical, painful plot. No one can convince me that neither of Fitz's sisters, two strong and out-spoken women, wouldn't at least tell him that his behavior is improper. But under the author's puppet strings, these people just watch on in silence from a distance and grimace a lot.

The Freaking Formatting:
The chapters alternate between the beginning of the marriage to eight years later. So at the start of the book, you already know where these people will be in eight years. So tedious. So boring. Between the insufferable navel-gazing segments about unrequited love and pining after god-forsaken Isabelle, Thomas keeps us riveted in the "past" chapters with long, detailed accounts of Millie and Fitz's estate renovation project. Later, she treats us to the trials and adventures of creating Victorian advertisements for (probably) disgusting canned foods. The movement of plot suffers for this. Just when I thought I might be interested in the present, Thomas would hurl me back into the past so Fitz could wax poetic about losing his dreams and stuff. Unbearable. To make matter worse, huge chunks of the "present" portions of the book are devoted to the main couple of the NEXT BOOK in the series. I won't be reading that.

Despite all of my complaints, I've read worse than Ravishing the Heiress. The writing isn't bad, although I did notice a few awkward turns of phrase and several typos. If only the content hadn't been so insufferable and depressing, I wouldn't have to be so harsh in this review.

Special Note:
I endeavored into this book as a buddy read with my GR friend Karla. You can find her review, which I guarantee will entertain you, here.