Today’s post is contributed by Ceilidh from Circulation Services.
In the eyes of the ton, Lord and Lady Tremaine have the perfect marriage—they never argue, embarrass each other, or disagree on anything. How? He lives on one continent and she on another, as they have done since the day after their wedding. But now Gigi, Lady Tremaine, is seeking a divorce in an effort to redeem herself by marrying the very loyal and kind-hearted Lord Freddie. However, Camden, Lord Tremaine, has returned from New York with a demand of his own—he will give Gigi her divorce only after she gives him an heir.
The story begins in 1893, but Thomas agilely flips back and forth between the past and present, gradually revealing the causes for this couple’s decade-long estrangement. Ten years ago, desire flared between Gigi and Camden, but a dreadful deception by Lady Tremaine drove her new husband away less than a day after the wedding. With Lord Tremaine’s return, their passion is reignited, even as Gigi struggles to hold on to what she believes is a hard-earned redemption in the arms of Lord Freddie.
The chemistry between Gigi and Cam practically sizzles on the page. Gigi herself is a far cry from the perfect, helpless females of early historical romance who tend to sit back and let things, including the hero, happen to them. But Gigi knows what she wants, and she will do whatever she has to in order to obtain it. She is undoubtedly spoilt, self-centered, impulsive, hard-nosed, and cynical, but you cannot help warming to her. She is a social climber without shame. She sees through the façade of high society and is determined to use it to her own advantage. She refuses to be a victim, even after her own selfishness damages her marriage and chance for happiness.
Sherry Thomas is a Chinese-born author who moved to America at age thirteen, as she mentions in the small bio at the back of the book. Apparently one of the ways she taught herself to read English was by doggedly working her way through the “600-page behemoth historical romances of the day” with a Chinese-English dictionary in hand. Impressive.
One of the book’s greatest strengths is the way in which Ms. Thomas deftly weaves the story of Gigi and Cam’s courtship, marriage, and betrayal together with that of their fiery, tempestuous reunion. I also especially enjoyed the choice of a late Victorian setting, which makes a refreshing change of pace in the world of historical romances.
Private Arrangements was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008 and Romantic Times’ 2008 First Historical Romance Award Winner. This is a truly superb debut—cleverly written, beautifully structured, and full of unforgettable characters. This is a love story of unusual depth and a compelling story of betrayal and redemption, and if you enjoy this one, never fear, Ms. Thomas has written three others so far, all of which are in the WRL collection.
Check the WRL catalog for Private Arrangements.