Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas

Private Arrangements (2008) (Bantam Dell)
Sherry Thomas
Grade: A
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own
Romance RBC 2014: An AAR Top 100 Book 2010 

Lord and Lady Tremaine are considered to have the best marriage in the entire Ton. A love match is considered vulgar, an unhappy marriage even more so, but what the Tremaines have is a courteous marriage. Given that they haven’t spoken or clapped eyes on one another in ten years, there’s been no opportunity for them to disparage the other in front of friends and family, or for servants to witness marital spats. It is only when Gigi petitions Camden for a divorce that he leaves his new home in America and returns to British soil.

There was a time when both Gigi and Camden were deeply in love. Gigi was infatuated from the moment she set eyes on Camden and would have done everything and anything to marry him. Unfortunately, anything and everything included a deception and betrayal that came to light the morning after their wedding night, leading to the decade-long separation. Now, Camden refuses to grant Gigi her divorce lightly: in exchange for an heir, he’ll give Gigi her freedom. As truths are revealed and the fire between them is rekindled, Gigi and Camden’s new marital set-up is set to be the talk of the Ton …

This was my first, long-awaited Sherry Thomas novel and what an introduction it was. It’s clear to see why readers love Thomas’ characters and writing, and why four her novels made it into AAR’s Top 100 Romances 2013. The animosity between Gigi and Camden was palpable, even after ten years. They’re both initially resistant to cooperating with one another but as the truths come out, they start softening towards each other and the pair have a second chance at their love story.

The chapters switched between the present and ten years ago, as we uncover the reasons behind Gigi’s deception and their subsequent marriage. In an unusual, but not unseen turn of events, Gigi is the rich heiress of new money, while Camden must marry well in order to save his family. During their years apart, Gigi has grown independent and while her mother still meddles unnecessarily, for all intents and purposes, Gigi lives as a free woman. It is the feud with Camden that has enabled her to live in this manner and so when his return naturally disrupts her lifestyle and liberty to do what she pleases without censure, she resists with all the arsenals in her power. But despite their mutual hostility, Gigi and Camden know what makes the other tick, and how to press each other’s pressure points. It makes for delightful reading.

If you’re new to Sherry Thomas as I was, this is as good a start as any. It’s a standalone though she seems like the type of author where it doesn’t matter if you don’t read a series in order. Ms Thomas ticks all the right boxes effortlessly: intriguing protagonists and secondary characters, great dialogue and a plot that is determined to see our hero and heroine end up together with their happy-ever-after, however painful the journey. There were several heart-breaking moments that really helped to make the story, serving to show just what a great storyteller Sherry Thomas is. This (easily) made it to my (very long list) of the best of 2014.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.

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