Publisher: Bantam Books
Private Arrangements is the debut novel for Sherry Thomas. This book is about the relationship between Gigi, Lady Tremaine and Camden, Lord Tremaine. Yes, they are married at the outset of this book! Ten years before this book starts, Gigi and Camden are married after a short courtship. Gigi is supposed to marry Camden’s cousin, but after he dies in a drunken fall, she is left single. She meets Camden, and decides that although she knows that her friend is in love with him, she wants him. Gigi manipulates matters to make Camden think that his love has married another, and he turns his attention to Gigi. Camden was likable during the courtship and Gigi fell in love with him. She was anticipating beginning their life together, but unaware that Camden found out about the lie just hours before the wedding. He goes ahead with the wedding and wedding night and then the next morning announces that he is leaving her and why.
Ten years later, Gigi has decided to petition Camden for divorce as she has found a potential husband in the gentle soul of the absentminded Freddie, a painter. Camden shows up unannounced with his own agenda. He announces that he will grant the divorce if Gigi produces an heir in the next year, but in reality he intends to win his wife back.
Although I appreciated the book in a general fashion, there is too much about the book that I didn’t like. First of all, the book switches back and forth 10 years as the story is played out in the past and in the present. Although the dates are clearly marked, I found myself constantly confused by the story line as I felt I needed to flip back some pages to figure out where the story was left off. I found Gigi to be immature, greedy and manipulative and Camden to be petulant and cruel. His idea of going ahead with the wedding only to desert Gigi the morning after is childish. Although Gigi instigated this situation to a certain extent, she did try repeatedly to apologize for her selfishness. To add insult to injury, he is critical of her behavior after being abandoned. Does she not have the right to have a relationship at some point?
The deceitful relationship between Gigi’s mother and the duke was just as deceitful as the main story line. Not to mention Gigi’s mother’s continual interference and manipulation for her own self interests.
I may be critical about my dislike for the characters, but aside for the switching back and forth in time, I found Sherry Thomas to be a skillful reader. She brought these nasty characters alive for me! She made me cheer for some and boo for others. In the big picture, it is somewhat irrelevant if I liked the characters. Isn’t the job of a good author to bring out emotions in the reader?
I’ve included some of the industry’s reviews for your reading.
“To those romance readers who have strayed I have a message: I have the book for you. Private Arrangements may be the best historical romance you’ll read in a very long time, certainly the best I’ve read in years. And the historical romance genre is definitely not dead. “ The Romance Reader
“This is such an impressive, original and well written romance that I read it in just a few hours. I went back and forth from loving and hating both of these characters as their heartache became my own. That’s quite an accomplishment, that depth and range of emotion, for any writer, seasoned or not to convey. Wrench me, anguish me, but most important, as a reader make me care and become one with the characters and their story. You did that, Ms. Thomas. You did.“ Romance Reader at Heart. Cindy Reads Romance‘s comments probably better fit with my thoughts on this books: “I was a bit disappointed with this book. This book had some great reviews, but fell a bit flat for me. I think it may have been that for a majority of the book, it went back an forth between the decades. There was a secondary romance, that was okay, and the reconcilliation at the end didn’t have the impact I hoped for.“