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The #dabookclub: Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas, an introduction Q&A

****This is a sticky post*****Scroll down one to see the latest content or join us for a discussion of Sherry Thomas’ Beguiling the Beauty.

Our awkwardly announced Dear Author Book Club is restarting with a weeklong discussion of “Beguiling the Beauty” by Sherry Thomas.  Members of the DA review crew nominated a book for the book club and the readership voted on which book to read.  The winning book was “Beguiling the Beast”.  Based on recommendations from the readers, we are going to explore themes for the book club.  Next month is Friends to Lovers.  In the sidebar, you can see a poll.  Vote on which book you’d like for the July book club discussion (yes, we are skipping a month to allow more reading time.).

Beguiling the Beauty Sherry Thomas

Onward with the Q&A.  Sherry Thomas agreed, graciously, to answer a number of questions to jump start the discussion.  She will not be hovering about and so feel free to discuss.  I can pass along questions that might need direct answers from Thomas. If you are interested in a review, I wrote one here. You can buy the book from one of these retailers: ( A | BN | K | S )


1)  What was the genesis for this book?

Judith Ivory’s BEAST, a major milestone in my romance education.  It features a shipboard romance between an engaged couple who have never met.  The hero, Charles, seduces the heroine, Louise, because Louise wants an adventure before she settles down with her much older fiancé and Charles would rather her adventure be him than some other man.

And Louise never sees Charles’s while they were having this affair.

I enjoy taking a plot or plot element that has worked well in a different book, then give it a different spin.  One of the easiest ways to turn a romantic plot on its head is to switch the genders of the two people involved.  So BEGUILING THE BEAUTY’s shipboard romance has a woman in disguise, out to seduce a man.

2)  Were there any themes you wanted readers to interpret?

I don’t write with themes in mind and all I want my readers to derive from my books is enjoyment.

That said, I do sometimes feel like a researcher conducting an experiment under controlled circumstances, when it comes to my plots and characters.  So, here is a man who has been in love with a woman because of her beauty, and who is probably unable to fall for anyone else because they do not look like her, what would happen if he is given an opportunity to get really close to a woman without her physical appearance exerting any kind of influence on him?

That’s what I decided to find out.

3)  Because this is a disguise story, I struggled with the concept of the hero being truly in love with the Baronness or Venetia.  How did you feel it played out?

I can’t say I struggled with it.  I really like how it played out.  I feel that if a man is crazy about a woman’s looks, and equally crazy about said woman’s personality when he can’t see her face, that combines into just about the most perfect love I can cook up in my little romance laboratory.

4)  What do you feel about revenge? Is there a moral layer to the characters actions?  If so, what morality measurement should we be using? and  5)  What was Venetia’s view about revenge?

I am going to combine these two questions.

There are vengeances that take over a person’s life, like in the Count of Monte Cristo.  I remember finding it a little difficult to accept that the author just gave him a happy ending and voila, that’s it.  To me that sort of consuming, calculating vengeance, taking years to plan and orchestrate, once completed, beyond the initial thrill, would lead the hero into a deep depression.

In BEGUILING THE BEAUTY, there is nothing remotely comparable.  Venetia is furious.  She is doing what many of us do when we are furious: striking back while in a state of anger and turmoil.

And while in that state, she believes herself capable of a far crueler strike than she can actually execute.  I think rare is the person who has not at least once in his/her life imagined a devastating scheme against someone.  Most of us don’t ever put that scheme into action. Venetia, however, does take the first step in her plan, but no more than that, before she realizes the inapplicability of her original plan.

 6)  The set up for the second book seemed integral to this book?  How do you feel the Millie/Fitz storyline added to the  romance of the first characters?

Frankly I can’t say that Millie/Fitz’s storyline (their book is RAVISHING THE HEIRESS) adds to the Christian’s and Venetia’s romance.  What it does is weaving all three books of the trilogy into a tighter overall larger story.

7)  The ending was a concern for some readers.  What effect were you achieving with the ending you chose?

I wanted a Gift of the Magi kind of ending. (For readers who might not be familiar with the O Henry short story, Gift of the Magi is about a poor young couple who love each tremendously.  Come Christmas, she sells her hair to buy him a platinum fob for his watch, and he sells his watch to buy her a set of expensive combs for her hair.)

So both Christian and Venetia have something they find difficult to share with other people.  In Christian’s case, it is that he has been in love with Venetia ever since the very beginning. For Venetia, it is her role on the ship.  So he confesses his part to the gossips—who fear no one, by the way, since the best gossips deal in truth, not falsehoods—to try to save her from being hurt.  And she confesses her scheme to save him from his secret becoming widely disseminated.

The parallel is not exact, but that’s what I wanted to achieve.

8)  What would you do differently, if anything, in the story?

I’m not sure.  At the very tail end of revisions, I switched around some aspects of the ending, in the hope of greater tension leading up to it.  In doing so, I got rid of a couple of scenes.  At times I wonder whether had I kept those scenes, fewer readers would feel the ending was rushed.  But then again, those scenes never did do much for me, and I don’t personally miss them.

So, at the moment, I don’t have any concrete ideas on how the ending could have been different.  Down the road, who knows?

9)  Generally speaking, do you think craft or storytelling is more important for an author?  What can you do to increase one’s skill in either?

For genre works, definitely storytelling.  Craft is mean to enhance storytelling.  It is the interior decorating to the structure that is storytelling.  When the structure sucks, the best interior decorating can’t save it from sucking.  When the structure is sound, even if you have very little to the interior, well, the structure is still sound and you can make use of it.

Of course, the absolute best-case scenario is sound structure accompanied by fabulous interior decorating.  But if I have to err, I will err on the side of storytelling.

As to what you can do to increase your skill in either, I say just read.  Read the best books you can find, of any kind of subject matter/genre/whatnot that you enjoy.  In fact you want to read books so good that they make you throw yourself to the ground in despair.  You need to know where the bar is before you can aim for it.

Over to you DA readers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

46 Comments

  1. Mireya
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 07:05:37

    I may be going blind, but can’t see the poll on the sidebar.

    M.

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  2. LeeF
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 07:22:53

    Oh, good- it isn’t just me

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  3. Jane
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 07:31:34

    @Mireya: and @LeeF: No, it is totally me. I’ll put it up shortly.

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  4. Ros
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 07:33:47

    Me either. Also the box telling us that this is a sticky post isn’t visible on the main DA page, only when you’ve clicked through to the post.

    Sherry, if you’re reading these comments, I have a question about the availability of your books outside NA. I read Delicious and Private Arrangements a few years ago in the UK, but since then I haven’t been able to purchase any of them. Please, please, please can you exert whatever influence you have with your publishers to get your books available more widely, especially in digital format. Thanks.

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  5. Maili
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 07:59:33

    @Ros: Delicious and Private Arrangements are digitally available at Amazon UK, but I agree that none of her other books – including Beguiling the Beauty – are digitally available, which is rather annoying.

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  6. Maili
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 08:00:42

    @Ros: Oh, sorry, I misread your post. *headdesk* But I still agree with you on the availability of her other books.

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  7. njoireading
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 09:41:05

    OK, my ignorance is going to show. What is a sticky note post?

    I have read this book and would like to join the discussion of the themes and motives throughout the book. Ms. Thomas’ discussion about the Christmas gift motif is interesting and one I did not think of while reading the book. Yet that fits rather well.

    Venetia did strike out in almost blind anger when she set Christian up on the ship. How many of us do that? You are so angry that you lash out. There is no planning just action. Of course, I also have those instances where the best comeback doesn’t come to mind until hours later, too late to be pithy enough.

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  8. LeeF
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 10:50:07

    @njoireading:
    A sticky post will stay at the top of the screen, regardless of how many new posts are listed. Keeps it from getting lost after a day or two.

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  9. Maya S.
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 11:21:09

    As an FYI, the poll on the side is currently asking me to vote for a book called “Sprig Muslim” by Georgette Heyer…which may be one of my favorite typos I’ve ever seen

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  10. Ros
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 11:43:02

    @Maya S.: Maybe it’s a response to the lack of minority characters in Regency romances?

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  11. Jennie
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 14:19:32

    I think the answer to question #2 is at the heart of why I really loved this book. I liked the symmetry of the hero discovering, and falling in love with, these two discrete parts of the heroine. Especially when the heroine herself had a conflict, in a sense, between her beauty and her “true self.” I thought Venetia’s deception was in a way necessary for BOTH Christian and Venetia to be sure that he loved her for more than just her looks.

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  12. Jennie
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 14:26:15

    @njoireading: I really, really liked the “Gift of the Magi” element because I felt that this was definitely one of those romances where both the h/h need to make amends for their actions towards each other, and I generally prefer the grand gesture over a simple “I’m sorry” under such circumstances (at least in fiction; not necessarily in real life!).

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  13. Jane
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 14:41:29

    @Jennie: This was actually my biggest problem with the story. Yes it was convenient that Christian’s two loves – the face and the person went together but he did not know that at the time. In fact, he wasn’t in love with Venetia. He had a sick obsession with her appearance and what he did know about her personally made him dislike her and disregard her as a valuable person. His “lust” for Venetia was as shallow as possible.

    His regard for the Baronness came from intimacy, both physical and emotional, yet despite this he still longed for another women. When he made a commitment to the Baronness, when he wanted her to love him back, he did so knowing (perhaps initially subconsciously and then later more cognizant of his ongoing obsession) that he was “in love” or at least obsessed with another woman. He did not know that they were the same person. His obsession with Venetia’s person, his pursuit and then commitment made to the Baronness even while in thrall to his obsession, made his “love” for both seem shallow and inconstant.

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  14. Anna Cowan
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 17:41:16

    @Jane – I had the same issue as you. I never felt that the two loves were resolved into one woman, one lasting feeling. Although reading your description above, I can feel myself becoming interested in his struggle. Maybe if it had been a more conscious struggle? If he’d really had to face the shallowness of his lust – really had to choose one over the other? But yes, it felt like coincidence to me, not the Great Love.

    And I found the ending just bizarre. I understand that their fear was of people knowing, and the great gossips represent public knowledge, but those characters had nothing to do with the book! It was just so weird having them front and centre in the climactic scene. I suspect they could have made their exchange of sacrifices in a way that was more central to them – and that meant more/risked more to the actual characters. It didn’t make me feel breathless, or worried about what they were giving up.

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  15. cecilia
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 17:56:53

    I didn’t like the ending either. I thought it verged on farcical.

    I overall really enjoyed reading this book. but the ending didn’t work for me – not the gossips part, and not the pacing. I agree that whether this is True and Lasting Love between these two is somewhat questionable, but some changes in pacing would have likely fixed that for me. The gulf between them widens so wide, and the resentment and betrayal is so great, that more than a grand gesture, time is needed.

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  16. Gillyweed
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 18:15:42

    His obsession with Venetia’s person, his pursuit and then commitment made to the Baronness even while in thrall to his obsession, made his “love” for both seem shallow and inconstant.

    Yes, but isn’t that weakness what gives Christian’s character (and Sherry Thomas’s characters in general) such depth? In most romances, the hero only has eyes for the heroine. From the moment they meet, he’s completely in her thrall and he never so much as looks at another woman again. While I enjoy the fantasy aspect of that, I like how Sherry Thomas’s characters behave somewhat like real people, with real human faults and weaknesses. Luckily it’s Romance Land, so everything ends happily ever after!

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  17. Elyssa
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 19:00:24

    I also had the same issue as Jane did–I just never fully bought into Christian’s supposed love for Venetia or the Baroness. His love felt shallow to me, and, as a result, I felt Venetia got the short end of the stick. I wish the issue had been addressed moreso.

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  18. Kim
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 19:51:34

    I enjoyed the book, but I was able to suspend belief on two major plot points: Christian’s total obsession with Venetia and the scenes where he never recognized the Baroness as Venetia. With most other authors this would have been an insurmountable hurdle, but because it’s Sherry Thomas, I was able to read the entire book to see how she resolved things. While this couldn’t happen in reality, I was able to overlook it in this novel.

    I thought Christian matured in the latter part of the book and began to see Venetia as a flesh and blood woman. It may have been obsession for most of the book, but I think he finally loved the real Venetia at the end. To be fair, Venetia did wear protective armor when in public, so there was a brittleness to her. They both had shortcomings, though his outweighed hers.

    Finally, the part that was problematic for me was the ending. I found it difficult to believe that two gossips would go up against Christian and not worry about losing their place in society. Even if they had the truth on their side, wouldn’t the ton wish to stay in Christian’s good graces and not the two women?

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  19. Jennie
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 19:56:29

    @Jane: Point taken. I think there was some suspension of disbelief required to accept Christian’s reformation from someone who had an unhealthy obsession with a stranger to someone who was capable of loving a real, flesh and blood woman. In a way, it was convenient that the women were one in the same, if you buy that it was his being hung up on Venetia that kept him from forming attachments with other women.

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  20. Jennie
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 19:58:18

    @Elyssa: I bought it in the end but I can see that it doesn’t really bear close scrutiny. Basically I thought his “love” for Venetia was a strange preoccupation that he hadn’t been able to shake; his love for the Baronness was real, though. IDK, in the end I did believe in the HEA, and I didn’t feel like Venetia was being short-changed.

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  21. Jane
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 20:00:47

    @Gillyweed: I think it did give him flavor. I found his obsession with Venetia fascinating and I felt like his self hate kind of carried over to his irrational feelings toward her (before he knew she and the Baronness were the same). That said, I didn’t feel like there was a true reckoning for his obsession and his purported love. It seemed far too convenient for me which made me doubt the “love” that Venetia and Christian were supposed to feel.

    @Kim: I agree that the ending was problematic. I didn’t really understand why the two gossips played such a big role. This was the gift of the Magi part? I would need to go back and read that section.

    I agree with you that Sherry Thomas’ amazing writing carries the story whereas a lesser skilled author would have made this book into a wallbanger. She has an amazing deft touch and obviously the story resonated with many other readers.

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  22. Jennie
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 00:27:06

    @cecilia: You know, I can see this intellectually, but it ended up working for me. I read this a while ago, but I kind of remember having the feeling that the scene was veering into the ridiculous with the semi-redemption of the horrible gossips, but somehow it righted itself for me.

    I do think that for me, in fiction at least, a well done grand gesture can make up for a lot. IRL, I think time would be the only thing that would heal some wounds, but my rules for fiction are definitely different.

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  23. Loosheesh
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 10:45:10

    @Jane: “His obsession with Venetia’s person, his pursuit and then commitment made to the Baronness even while in thrall to his obsession, made his “love” for both seem shallow and inconstant.” – I felt the same. This also goes to the crux of my like/dislike relationship with ‘disguise/masquerade’ storylines; I always feel they create unfair conflict (that sense of emotional ‘cheating’ on one person with the other) in the person being ‘tricked’.

    I’m one of those completely not impressed with the ending – I recognized and appreciated the ‘Gift of the Magi’ inspiration but felt that using the two gossipy characters to bring it about made it too hokey for my liking.

    Overall, I enjoyed the book but, having read Not Quite a Husband, I was expecting an emotional depth or weight I did not get in Beguiling the Beauty.

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  24. Stephanie
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 11:05:21

    I agree that Sherry Thomas’s talent carried this book. I was completely engaged even when the logical side of my brain wanted to slam it.

    I just don’t believe a man who woke up next to a woman after some hot sex would put that blindfold on first. And some of the coincidences seemed too far fetched. The end with the gossips didn’t ring true at all for me.

    Still – I immediately went and pre-ordered the next book. Thomas is just that good.

    As for Christian’s obsession – here is how I took that. It wasn’t that he was completely hung up on her looks/ then completely hung up on her. I perceived it more as a fated match type of obsession. It was the “essence” of her or that “something special” about her that he was so hung up on. But he was simply attributing it to her looks.

    He says the line to her in the elevator that he just “felt” her and knew they had this connection and this was when he couldn’t see her.

    So for me it wasn’t about him being in love with 2 people – it was trying to reconcile that he could feel this way about the two women (which of course wasn’t an issue because they were one.)

    For me it was reminiscent of Katlheen Woodiwiss’s beauty and the beast book. Can’t remember the title.

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  25. Gillyweed
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 13:01:11

    So I have to ask… was anyone else bothered by any of the following?:
    (1) The sex wasn’t hot (at least not compared to some of Sherry Thomas’s previous books). It was a little bit “fade to black” for my taste. I don’t get why she dialed it back when she’s clearly capable of writing some hot luvin’.
    (2) The book felt too short. I felt like it was over too soon and like it was missing a certain weight or substantiality. I read somewhere (maybe on her blog or here at DA) that she was thinking of the trilogy in terms of a meal, ie. appetizer, main course, dessert. This definitely felt like an appetizer and not a main course. This seems to be a common problem plaguing trilogies–the first book is setting up the series so you get slightly more secondary character involvement than you might prefer. In this book, I just didn’t care about the other heroes and heroines (I can’t even remember their names) and I didn’t want to read about them until they got their own books. I don’t think it would have bothered me as much if the book hadn’t been so short already.

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  26. Loosheesh
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 13:39:20

    @Gillyweed: I agree, especially with #2. I’ve only read one other Sherry Thomas book, but BtB seemed lightweight compared to it. And I will admit to being distracted by what was happening with Venetia’s brother and sister; I definitely want to read their stories, but the secondary setup did take up too much space out of what was an unexpectedly short book.

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  27. Anna Cowan
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 18:30:14

    @Stephanie that was how I read his obsession as well – like fated mates. So he didn’t really fall in love with two women. The problem for me came from the fact that a) there was no context for a “fated mates” story (the characters weren’t self-aware; there were no other magic realism elements) and b) he didn’t sufficiently deal with his two apparently opposing feelings. That can be an explanation for the reader, but not for the hero, if that makes sense.

    Also- I feel like a total newb – but how do you link to other people’s names/comments?

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  28. Dabney
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 21:13:31

    I believed in Venetia’s need to escape the contraints of her form. I had a harder time with Chrstian’s inablitly, once he realized the two women were one, to move passed his own indigantion he’d been tricked. I believed he saw he’d encountered True Love and let his ego push it aside for anger.

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  29. cecilia
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 21:42:45

    @Anna Cowan: When you mouse over someone’s comment, a “reply” link appears. Just click on that, and the link will appear in your comment.

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  30. Anna Cowan
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 21:56:05

    @cecilia: thank you!!

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  31. bettie
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 22:14:50

    @Anna Cowan: While there were no fantastical elements to explain the hero’s instant attraction to the heroine, I felt like Sherry’s nod to Judith Ivory in the dedication, and the novel’s winking introduction of plot devices like the coincidental meeting, the veiled driving hat, and the mis-delivered flowers established that Beguiling the Beauty was playing with the established conventions of a dual identity plot along the lines of (and with much respect to) Ivory’s novel Beast.

    Since I knew I was in for a dual identity plot from the outset, I took certain developments as a matter of course. Of course the beauty and the veiled mystery woman are one in the same, and of course the hero falls in love with them both–it wouldn’t be a dual identity novel, otherwise. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of one of my favorite movies, The Lady Eve which also relies on a dual identity plot. The weakness of both stories (the hero’s fixation on both the Lady of Appearances and the Lady of Substance) is also a necessity for the farce elements of the plot. Without that less-than-appealing occurrence, the rest of the book couldn’t happen.

    While I can see how the plot’s more artificial elements might not work for some readers, I thought the self-awareness of the narration and structure provided adequate balance through most of the story. It was as though it was saying, with a wink and a smile, “Yes, it’s all quite improbable, but isn’t it fun?”

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  32. Jane
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 22:17:31

    @bettie: I think that the tone of the book was rather serious so the wink and the nod bit doesn’t really convey “but isn’t it fun”. This didn’t seem like a romp.

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  33. Anna Cowan
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 23:43:30

    @bettie: I think my problem, like Jane, was with the tone. I didn’t mind the identity concealing conceits, and found them fun. But Christian’s reaction to her deceit wasn’t in line with the farcical nature of it. His reaction took the situation entirely seriously – but he hadn’t questioned himself in the same serious way. So, for me, the tone was off.

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  34. Anna Cowan
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 23:47:41

    I also wanna put it on-record that I love Sherry’s writing and am really excited for the rest of the series! The secondary characters didn’t necessarily impact the plot of this book, but I did enjoy getting to know the community/family/context, and they got me excited for what’s next.

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  35. njoireading
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 11:06:57

    Interesting conversations; I have to agree with those who think the ending was rushed and really not in keeping with a)the rest of the story and b)the angst I expect from Ms. Thomas. It fell somewhat flat thinking that these two society gossips would hold such power. Really, would it have all been such a scandal if it came out?

    I think that Venetia realizing that she needs Christian and following him to London could have been a starting point for an ending; one where the Gift of the Magi still could have been worked in.

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  36. Gillyweed
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 11:21:51

    I also wanna put it on-record that I love Sherry’s writing and am really excited for the rest of the series!

    @Anna Cowan: Me too! I had some criticisms with this book but overall I was impressed by her prose and her unique approach to writing in this genre. I’m definitely looking forward to the next books in the series.

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  37. bettie
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 11:33:38

    @Jane: Not a farce, but there were elements that were definitely not serious and the deftness with which Sherry Thomas handled them reminded me of the self-assurance of a good stage magician or a high wire act. She presented Cliche-Defying Feats of Angst and Amusement. No matter how perilous the plot element, the narrative and structure were assured confident. I would wonder how she was ever going to pull off the disguise, the reveal, or the genuine emotion in a scene. But she did it. Again and again. She took a much used plot that could easily have been ridiculous and made it a riveting reading experience. The sheer audacity of taking on that plot–the way she directly nodded to Ivory and then went for it, all out–is what was fun. It’s what made me initially think of The Lady Eve, where Jean’s audacity in taking on something so outrageous is precisely what makes her act work.

    Beguiling the Beauty is a book that works because of the skill and daring of its author, the strength of its structure, and the reader’s awareness of exactly how many other writers have used the same elements and fallen short of the mark. Ivory’s Beast is, I think, the gold standard for this plot type, but Beguiling is a worthy and worthwhile tribute.

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  38. Jane
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 11:38:32

    @bettie: I agree that there were parts not serious, like the farcical ending with the two gossips that I found odd and not in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book, but Christian’s obsession; his cutting and public humiliation of Venetia, her anger, and subsequent spur of the moment revenge, all were more of a somber tone.

    I appreciate the vigorous defense of Thomas’ writing and I agree that Thomas writes with surety and confidence. Obviously she pulled it off for you but it wasn’t believable for me.

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  39. Kim
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 19:27:42

    A scientist thinks logically, so I thought that Christian was baffled by his obsession. He actually said as much. He couldn’t quantify his feelings nor could he have the married Venetia, so perhaps that is why he seized on Townsend’s lies. It was easier to cast her as the villain, rather than contemplate why he “loved’ a stranger and couldn’t move on with his life. Towards the end of the book, when Christian & Venetia talked in Christian’s museum and at the dig, I think he finally saw the “real” Venetia and came to love her heart as well as her exterior beauty.

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  40. Jennie
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 22:00:38

    @Jane: It didn’t feel like a romp to me either but I guess the fact that it was not exactly grittily realistic in some elements made it feel lighter to me. So, since I was enjoying it, things that I might have considered flaws in other books, I didn’t take as seriously.

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  41. Jennie
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 22:02:15

    @Kim: I like your take on it. Christian’s flaws and blind spots obviously played a big part in the direction of the plot.

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  42. Las
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 08:55:58

    @Jane:

    I agree that there were parts not serious, like the farcical ending with the two gossips that I found odd and not in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book

    I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yes, that ending really didn’t fit with the tone of the story. My dislike was for the “deus ex machina” of it all. It reminded me of the ending of Delicious.

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  43. Bethany
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 12:10:25

    the thing about Beguiling the Beauty is that while I didn’t adore it, it was still one of the best books I’ve read this year. Unfortunately (or maybe not so unfortunately), Sherry is the author of my all-time favorite romance, Not Quite a Husband. NQAH is maybe one of the best books I’ve ever read, hands down. So while Beguiling didn’t quite add up for me as much as that did, it was still a pretty fantastic book. I’d also like to add that I am greatly looking forward to the second book of the trilogy. I love a married but unconsummated couple.

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  44. Dabney
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 22:22:30

    @Bethany: I love Sherry Thomas but NQAH is not my favorite of her books. What is it about that book you so love?

    Thus far my favorite of her books is His at Night and (lucky me to have already read it!) Ravishing the Heiress.

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  45. Bethany
    Jun 18, 2012 @ 12:16:37

    @Dabney: I think it’s so beautifully written and the story is so poignant and deeply romantic–but I’ll confess that the lovers reunited story is one of my all-time favorite tropes and this is one of the best examples for me because their relationship is so damaged it seems almost irreparable when the novel begins. Also, Byrony as a heroine is so human. She does and says things that are impetuous and stupid, but she’s obviously not stupid. She’s simply out of her element completely when it comes to Leo and so her behavior is often is nonsensical, even to her.

    I also love the setting, and how it echoes some of my favorite old fashioned romances by MM Kaye, like The Far Pavillions and Shadow of the Moon. I discovered these when I was 15 or 16 and read everything I could get my hands on by her.

    Lastly, that Leo loves Bryony for what makes her different (her antiseptic smell, her no-nonsense ways and her intensity), rather than because she’s cookie cutter beautiful or feisty or irresistible sexually. That to me feels more real and lasting than a hero loving a woman because she’s got gorgeous blond hair.

    NQAH has its flaws, as almost any book does, but when a book moves me to tears (usually it’s when Leo shows up at her father’s funeral, dressed in black as if they were still married and not divorced), it’s usually a keeper for me.

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  46. Dabney
    Jun 19, 2012 @ 08:25:28

    @Bethany: Those are all lovely reasons. It’s a book I’ve liked better each time I’ve read it.

    Thanks!

    ReplyReply

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