Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Sherry Thomas - Tempting the Bride

Helena Fitzhugh understands perfectly well that she would be ruined should her secret love affair be discovered. So when a rendezvous goes wrong and she is about to be caught in the act, it is with the greatest reluctance that she accepts help from David Hillsborough, Viscount Hastings, and elopes with him to save her reputation.
Helena has despised David since they were children—the notorious rake has tormented her all her life. David, on the other hand, has always loved Helena, but his pride will never let him admit the secrets of his heart.
A carriage accident the day after their elopement, however, robs Helena of her memory—the slate is wiped clean. At last David dares to reveal his love, and she finds him both fascinating and desirable. But what will happen when her memory returns and she realizes she has fallen for a man she has sworn never to trust?

Comment: This is the third installment in the Fitzhugh trilogy by author Sherry Thomas, the story of Helena, the remaining Fitzhugh sibling.

In this story we finally have the story of Helena, a very independent young lady who has done her best to follow her own rules. She is in love with a married man, and has been since before his wedding, and he reciprocates but of course they cannot be together fully. On the side, seeing all this is Viscount Hastings, her childhood nemesis, although she is unaware he has always been in love with her. Hastings tries his best to help her, as much as he can't resist to taunt her but he is helpless to love her despite her disgust for him and her decisions which he believes are too reckless. One day he learns someone is going to play a trick on her and catch her with her lover, and he does what he can to save her, ending up announcing their engagement. She is livid but what can she do... unfortunately, she has an accident and loses her memory, but when she comes to herself, she learns they are happily married. How will she react, though, if and when she remembers the truth of their relationship?

I've read the other two installments in this trilogy back in 2016. I spent quite a while looking for a deal in order to get this book and now I've finally started it. I still remembered enough of the others to keep track of where this one was at in terms of plot but I must confess that Helena hadn't been a favorite character so, probably, that played too in my delay in wanting to start it.

Helena had been often described as being reckless, independent for the time period and not very nice to thew family friend Hastings. I mean, it was a given they would end up together and the author had proven she is a great writer of unrequited love relationships, so I envisioned something along these lines. However, I must say that getting to read about Helena again didn't win her over to me. She was too brash and set on her ways that she got on my nerves. Perhaps if she had been nicer, I'd have appreciated her rebel personality more too.

On one hand, the fact she wanted to live her life as she willed is a positive aspect, one we would certainly respect now, thinking about how limited the lives of well respects ladies from high society were. I liked she did things because she wanted and felt she could make an impact (she was a publisher), especially since she had the funds to do so. As for her personality, it's all a matter of perspective, as we saw while sh was amnesiac, how much more friendlier and laid down she acted. But her personality when the book starts and some of her attitude when she recovers her memory make her someone too mean for me to appreciate.

I suppose it is only fair to say Hastings isn't perfect either but I think the author did a better job conveying his side of things and I don't think it was only because he had been in love with Helena for so long. We get to have a better opinion of him, in part, because he has an illegitimate daughter, who clearly has issues (I can't say, but perhaps what we we would now think as some sort of autism) and he takes care of her, recognized and welcomed her and expects any woman he will marry (of course he has always hoped for Helena) will also want to be a mother to her. Yes, I know this doesn't have to mean anything, but it did help me to have a much better opinion of him.

The author has quite a talent for couples who aren't well at first or that face adversity and sometimes one of them loved the other more first or something. Unrequited love or longing are her thing, for certain. It's just too bad, in my opinion, the characters aren't always that appealing and reading about them can be quite a task. In the case of this story, Helena isn't the best of people but once she becomes amnesiac, we hope things change and of course we get to see a softer, kinder side of her. Thankfully, the author didn't go into fantasy and Helena recovered and Hastings told her the truth before that.

This means the story has always been about realistic feelings and not what ifs, but it did feel as if Helena wouldn't have reached the conclusions she does, nor would she see Hastings ever differently if not for an incredible and surprising situation. I can't help feeling he ended up with a sort of bad deal, even though it was his dream all along...

This isn't a big book, everything happened rather quickly, especially if one thinks some ideas had been pre established in the previous books, but I'll be honest and say it was the one I liked less of the three.
Grade: 6/10

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