Thomas, Sherry. Private Arrangements. New York: Bantam Books, 2008.
Mass Market Paperback | $6.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0440344318 | 351 pages | Victorian Romance
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.