Private Arrangements, by Sherry Thomas

>> Monday, July 18, 2011

TITLE: Private Arrangements
AUTHOR: Sherry Thomas

PAGES: 384

SETTING: Late Victorian England
TYPE: Romance

To all of London society, Lord and Lady Tremaine had the ideal arrangement: a marriage based on civility, courteousness, freedom—and living on separate continents.

But once upon a time, things were quite different for the Tremaines…When Gigi Rowland first laid eyes on Camden Saybrook, Lord Tremaine, the attraction was immediate and overwhelming: she simply had to have him. But what began in a spark of passion ended in betrayal the morning after their wedding—and Gigi wants to be free to marry again. Now Camden has returned from America with an outrageous demand—an heir—in exchange for Gigi’s freedom.

Gigi's decision will have consequences she never imagined, as secrets are exposed, desire is rekindled—and one of London’s most admired couples must either fall in love all over again…or let each other go forever.

Gigi Rowland fell for Camden, Lord Tramaine the moment she saw him. It was obvious they were perfect for each other. He had a title and needed money, she had money and needed a title. On top of it, there was a sizzling attraction there, and they liked each other and got along well. So what if Cam was promised to someone else and felt he had to keep that promise? Gigi didn't hesitate to play dirty to give both of them what they really wanted. Unfortunately, Cam found out and didn't take it well. This happened right after the wedding, and meant that they have been separated for the 10 years since their wedding night.

But now, after years of leading their own separate lives, Gigi wants to marry again and seeks a divorce. Cam says yes, but only if Gigi gives him an heir within a year.

This was a fantastic book. It's a beautiful romance, with complex, flawed characters who I loved, but who also often exasperated me. It's also about getting over wounded pride and about how after going for too long in a particular direction you realise was the wrong one, it seems impossible to go back and take the right one.

I loved Gigi and her sneaky ways. Is it really wrong to manipulate and play dirty when the result is that both the manipulator and the manipulated get what they want, even if one of them didn't think he should want it? I've always (slightly guiltily) enjoyed romances with heroes in the manipulator role, but had no idea whether I'd like it when the heroine was in the role, since I don't think I've ever read a romance like that. Well, I did. i loved it. I wanted Gigi to get her man and I cheered for her, even while shaking my head at her obliviousness about what was at Cam's core, and at her complete lack of understanding of his over-developed sense of honour and pride.

Because that was also a big thing here, how these two grow and change from quite immature young people. The book jumps between their courtship, 10 years earlier, and the present-day drama, and so you can see the old Gigi and Cam side by side with the new. Thomas gets it perfectly right. They are still the same people, really, but they have changed in ways that felt organic.

I also especially appreciated that Thomas avoids one of my most hated plot points. With romances, when I hear there's a long separation involved, I always fear that the author will have the hero spending those years fucking everything that moves (because he's manly, and clearly we romance readers think restraint isn't manly and only want to read about heroes who reek of testosterone), while the heroine keeps herself pure and virginal for him (because we romance readers clearly think any woman who doesn't do that is a complete slag, and we don't want to read about those hussies). To put it mildly, the double standard bothers me. That does not happen here. As far as Gigi and Cam are both concerned, the behaviour of the other has basically put a stop to their marriage, and they both really build separate lives. And that involves romance with other people, for both of them. Not ideal romance, but MUCH better than having the old double standard in action!

Plenty of other good stuff here as well. The setting is wonderfully done, and there's a lovely romance involving Gigi's mother, who's had to come to terms to the fact that her ambition to bag a duke for her daughter has gone badly wrong. Guess who she falls in love with?



Anonymous,  18 July 2011 at 16:54  

<span>I LOVED this book for many of the same reasons as you. They were so cute together in the past and they are fantastic in the present, worts and all. I loved Camden and Gigi was his match. And the mother's romance, so funny and hot!!! </span>

Anonymous,  18 July 2011 at 16:54  

<span>I LOVED this book for many of the same reasons as you. They were so cute together in the past and they are fantastic in the present, worts and all. I loved Camden and Gigi was his match. And the mother's romance, so funny and hot!!! </span>

Marg,  19 July 2011 at 02:57  

I have enjoyed all the Sherry Thomas books I have read - I love that Thomas takes risks with her characters! I really need to read His at Night soon.

I was excited to see that she is going to have a trilogy out next year. Can't wait!

Anonymous,  24 July 2011 at 10:29  

Marg: that's exactly it, she doesn't just make them all perfect and heroic, they have actual flaws. V. happy to hear about her upcoming trilogy as well -almost makes up for no books this year!

Guest: They were definitely a match for each other, don't think either would have been happy with anyone else!

Ana T. 16 September 2012 at 20:41  

I'm halfway though this one ;-)

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