For in reality, the “baroness” is Venetia Easterbrook—a proper young widow who had her own vengeful reasons for instigating an affair with the duke. But the plan has backfired. Venetia has fallen in love with the man she despised—and there’s no telling what might happen when she is finally unmasked…
Comment: This is the first full length installment in the Fitzhugh trilogy by author Sherry Thomas. I've been curious about the blurb for a long time and I've purchased the book months and months ago. As always, many books just stay in the TBR pile a lot longer than we wish and only now I finally picked it.
This is the story of Venetia Easterbrook, a woman who's been married twice but never quite happily. She's been labeled as a seductress because of her beauty and has the reputation of being cold and cynical. But the truth is Venetia has a heart just like everyone else.
Christian, the Duke of Lexington, fell in love at first sight with her when both were younger but Venetia's reputation made him stay away from her, something his constant travels helped with.
But now, years after, they are in the same room again in America and once more the Duke says something that Venetia considers offensive. To get revenge, she invents a scheme to seduce him, proving he is like any other man and then confront him. To do this, she disguises herself as a German baroness and, in a ship, they meet properly and fall in love. But what can Venetia do when things get out of hand and she realizes he's the man she never wants to leave?
I ended up enjoying this book a lot!
In the beginning not so much for two reasons: first, one of the secondary characters had an attitude I despise and that apparently she felt no remorse for. Second, I've read other books by the author and while one of them was something I loved (Delicious), the other one ( Private Arrangements) was more on the hate team. This meant I was afraid this would follow more into the latter side and disappoint me. Thankfully, all ended up well and I liked this a lot, I couldn't put it down and read it in one day.
The romance was well aced, I liked all the stages they went through and even when things seemed too angsty, it worked. I really liked how things moved along for them. Venetia could find someone who got her and who would cherish her for who she is and not her looks alone and Christian found a partner who could share his interests and passion for life and the unique. I could easily imagine their life together and that's the best things about a HEA!
The writing is as easy and fluid as ever and one can very easily get into it. the descriptions and the details we could infer by character's actions spoke volumes. We can always like or dislike, agree or disagree. The author does have talent and it shows. I guess it only matters if we can appreciate the characters or not...
The plot had its strengths and weaknesses. Many readers comment on how unlikely it was for Venetia to have deceived Christian for so long. I think one can accept it considering this is a romance and in real life people wouldn't let themselves go through all that work (and expenses) to just prove a point. Personally, I could not focus on that and instead I looked at how special their bond was getting and how beautiful it was so see them fall in love, especially considering all the things they have in common.
I liked the secondary characters, for the most part. Only one really got on my nerves but I suppose I can always rant when I comment on that book, because I know she will have a story too. One of the best things about real series is how we can learn a lot more about all characters, protagonists and secondary, from the interactions they all share. people aren't islands, so I always look for this and mrs Thomas did it quite well here. I loved the little glimpses from other character's perspectives. I say this is a real series because there's an obvious connection we can follow and understand. In my opinion, it's much better than just single books grouped together - which is what many series look like.
All in all, this was great, not perfect, but good and very enjoyable!
I can't wait to read the next one and will do it as soon as I can!