Beauty is as beauty does?
He sees a beautiful woman across a field and it's love at first sight for a handsome young duke. The only problem is that she is married. So begins Sherry Thomas' new historical romance Beguiling the Beauty.
Fast forward ten years to 1896, the American Society of Naturalists and the Boston Society of Natural History are sponsoring a lecture by Christian de Montfort, the Duke of Lexington, at Harvard University. He has come from London to speak about Lamarck and Darwin. The continuing object of his desire (although he is loath to admit it) is the beautiful Mrs. Venetia Easterbrook. She too is in Boston. In fact, she is at his lecture. She also has an interest in paleontology. Unfortunately, the duke shows bad manners at the lecture and insults the lady without realizing that she and her family are in the audience. His insult does not go unnoticed. She is so angry that she ends up on the same ship heading back to England, plotting revenge. Her plan is to assume a fake identity, make him fall in love with her, and then disappear. This sets up the whole love story.
As a young man he fell for the beautiful young woman, as an older man he fell for her as a veiled widow baroness. That week on the ship allowed both to drop their facades and truly take their initial attraction to a deeper level. They fall in love, but Venetia leaves instead of telling him the truth. The rest of the novel explores what happens when Christian unveils the "baroness" and Venetia can no longer hide her beauty. Will she hide behind her beauty and let the love of a live time slip away? Will Christian realize that Venetia is not as bad as he thinks and is worthy of his love?
In order to enjoy this book, which I did, one has to accept the premise that a man would hold onto a love-at-first-sight obsession for 10 years and a woman would fall in love with a man who deeply offended her. A little belief-suspending and this becomes an enjoyable book about two people with similar interests who overcome their preconceptions and fall in love. I look forward to the next one in the series, Ravishing the Heiress. It is the story of Venetia's younger brother who had to marry for money, but hopefully will find love after all.