Review of “Private Arrangements” (London Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas

Thomas, Sherry. Private Arrangements. New York: Bantam Books, 2008. 

Mass Market Paperback | $6.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0440344318 | 351 pages | Victorian Romance

3 stars

Private Arrangements is one of those books that I would describe as “tepid.” Not horrible in that it commits serious offenses in my eyes, but it does lack the magic I went in expecting.

That being said, it is still a decent book, with the writing and intricacy of the plot being strong points, especially since this happens to have been her debut novel. Thomas’ writing style can be a little jarring at first even if you’re familiar with her work, but it still managed to keep me invested, even with the occasional hop between the present storyline and the past, which can be hard to execute well, and was one of the things I felt was done poorly in a later book of hers, My Beautiful Enemy, which I didn’t finish.

The hero and heroine are…ok. Independent of one another, I like that both Camden and Gigi are both intelligent people, as well as being flawed and having made some mistakes in their past, especially Gigi in her quest to end up married to Camden. But I found myself a little underwhelmed with the trajectory of their romance in the present, given all the baggage. While I understand feeling betrayed, I just had a hard time sympathizing with either of them, especially when Camden comes back and they essentially have what boils down to “hate sex,” as part of their deal. I feel like this book was meant to be contemplative and reflective in the lead-up to them getting back together, but I just didn’t feel the sparks at all, and was actually rooting for them to divorce, even though I didn’t know it would happen.

But while the main plot and relationship is at least passably interesting, I found the subplot concerning Gigi’s mother and the Duke of Perrin completely pointless and failed to interest me at all. I can understand the reason for it being there, being rooted in the ambitions touched on in the chapters set in the past that Gigi be married to a duke, and through a turn of events, the mother is the one married to a duke, while Camden is still merely a duke’s heir, but the more I read about the mother, the more frustrated I became.

While I did not enjoy this, I still feel like it has its good points, as well as being well-reviewed by many others. That said, I would recommend giving it a chance if you like historical romance that is a bit heavier on the angst and has a unique writing style.

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Review of “The Luckiest Lady in London” (London Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas

Thomas, Sherry. The Luckiest Lady in London. New York: Berkley Sensation, 2013. Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0425268889 | 276 pages | Victorian Romance

4 stars

The Luckiest Lady in London was selected by OSRBC (one of the Facebook groups I’m in) as one of the Monthly Reads, and despite initial reticence, due both to past experience with Sherry Thomas’ historical romances and some of the elements of the blurb, I picked it up.

Thomas has a unique writing style that takes a while to get used to, especially with occasional use of omniscient POV to foreshadow the trajectory of the story, particularly at the beginning. However, I still found the story and characters compelling enough that it wasn’t that much of a turnoff.

Felix himself was surprising. While at first, I was a bit annoyed with him, as he seemed like yet another “heartless hero with a tragic past hidden behind a cold facade.” But I could not help but feel for him as the story went on, delving into his internal struggles.

Louisa is somewhat underwhelming by comparison, in that we’ve seen many a heroine like her before: the poor girl with wealthy connections who catches the attention of a wealthy peer. However, I did like the exploration of her intelligence, through the scenes concerning astronomy and mathematics.

I also really liked that the development of their relationship felt organic, and there were very real hurdles they faced as a newly married couple. It never felt like the story devolved into a Big Misunderstanding that simply talking to each other could have fixed, and I appreciate the story for that.

I would recommend this to fans of emotionally rich, complex historical romance. It might not be the best introduction to historical romance, but it is a great book for more seasoned readers.