There were many things I loved about Sherry Thomas’ Ravishing the Heiress, secondary characters notwithstanding. The writing. Fitz and Millie. The writing. (Can you tell I love it?) But there’s one particular aspect that stands out, and that’s how Ms. Thomas treats an arranged marriage.
I saw Pixar’s Brave the same weekend that I finished Ravishing the Heiress, and the contrast could not have been greater. In the first, Scottish princess Merida rebels against her mother, traditional feminine pursuits, and the whole idea of an arranged marriage. Forget embroidery, and to hell with marrying one of the chieftain’s sons to keep the clans together – Merida will win her own hand in marriage. I’m not giving anything away if I tell you that by the end Merida will have reached a new understanding with her mother and learned the value of compromise – but she sure ain’t married either.
Things are different in Ravishing the Heiress, besides the obvious differences in audience (it’s a romance) and form (it’s a novel – duh). Millie loves Fitz, and Fitz loves someone else. But does Millie refuse the marriage because she wants to marry for love, and wait until he recognizes his love for her? Nope. Millie’s family wants social standing and Millie has been groomed for this her entire life; and Fitz needs to restore the decrepit estate. So Millie goes through with it. And it takes eight years – read that, eight years – before their relationship becomes true love.