on 27 March 2015
I have decided that Sherry Thomas is in my top five favourite authors, I literally found this novel difficult to put down. And I have a few more to work my way through...bliss! How is it possible that a lady whose second language is English, can write such beautiful, intelligent... English? Better than most with English as a first language. Her careful research is phenomenal, both in my language, but also in mathematics and physics, which I'm convinced she must have a thorough working knowledge of, as these subjects creep into more than one of her novels and she actually makes them sound interesting and sexy! I've looked her up as I'm fascinated by this lady and apparently she "laboriously worked her way through Rosemary Roger's SWEET SAVAGE LOVE with an English-Chinese dictionary" in order to perfect her writing! She's done an incredible job, not only in this, THE LUCKIEST LADY IN LONDON, but also in the other two novels written by her I have read recently. In this one Ms. Thomas has crafted a deeply emotional, thought provoking tale, in most other hands, with this scenario, we would be looking at a light, fluffy romance with little plot. Ms. Thomas has instead created a deeply angsty story, romantic yes, but also a not-what-it-seems-on-the-surface tale, of a deeply turbulent and simmeringly sexual and sensitive love which cannot be ultimately realised until there is a lot of soul searching done and faced up to. For the first part of the book the sensuality is all spoken or implied, nonetheless it sizzles right off the page, tense with innuendo and sublimely deliciously sinful.
Felix Rivendale, Marquess of Wrenworth is seen by society exactly as he wishes to be seen, as The Ideal Gentleman. He has perfected this persona to cover his manipulative, exploitative and controlling nature. He has no scruples in using his outward beauty, urbane charm, immense wealth and hauteur to get exactly what he wants from life. His peers fawn over him, look up to him, defer to him. Felix is in command, exactly as he likes it.
Louisa Cantwell, it has been decided, by her family of females, will be the one amongst them to find a husband to save them from eventual destitution. She is passably pretty with no obvious talents other than a quick wit, clever mind and an ability to make the most of her few attributes. Louisa is not calculating but is still determined to find a husband she can at least like and who has sufficient fortune for her families needs although she is not the type of lady to use devious methods to obtain her goal. On her round of ton engagements she encounters Felix and is immediately attracted by his outward beauty and elegance but intuitively detects beneath his outward persona, the man he has taken such pains to hide. The Ideal Gentleman-Felix, sees this recognition of his other self and finds it intriguing, refreshing and stimulating, much against his better judgement he is drawn to this girl who uses no wiles to capture his interest and indeed actively avoids him. Despite this Louisa feels the first stirrings of sexual awareness and Felix in his usual hidden, but Machiavellian manner, exploits the situation, subtly stalking her throughout society. Eventually he offers her enough funds to help her family out of its difficulty by proposing she becomes his mistress, Louisa prevaricates between a hidden desire to grant his outrageous request but outwardly knowing she should conserve her reputation. Having become enthralled by Louisa, and her lack of subterfuge but recognising her awareness of himself - his real self, and being excited by it, he is afraid of losing her and eventually offers marriage, much to her amazement. Realising that she will never get a better marriage offer she accepts, regardless of being aware that she is taking on a man she knows little about, and whom she instinctively realises she cannot trust, nevertheless she is secretly thrilled by the fact that her outrageous fantasies concerning him can be realised.
Her reservations are not misplaced when after a torrid, passionate wedding night during which Felix cannot get enough of his enticing wife, he comes to his dubious senses, realising that this innocent girl has some control over him - he will never allow that - The Ideal Gentleman facade returns in force and he treats her abominably, rejecting her advances in a despicably cruel and malicious way, the scene where he rejects her actually made me cringe.
During the rest of this captivating story comes the realisation that Felix actually loves Louisa, the unravelling and eventual revealing of his tragic secrets (although the bones of them are told in the prologue) to Louisa, his fear of submitting to anyone and why, and the realisation that he must work to prove that he has become a decent person, no longer bent on being selfish and self-seeking and most importantly, worthy of Louisa and the love he hopes to win from her. Here Felix won my admiration and I despaired that Louisa took so long to give him a sign that she actually loved and forgave him his heinous acts. The final chapter is so spine tinglingly lovely as Felix faces his demons, and his redemption when finally it comes, after he commits a completely altruistic act and wins the heart of the lady he loves. As I said, the plot/storyline is light but so intensely compelling that I cannot praise the writing or content highly enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
on 24 November 2013
I am a fan of Sherry Thomas, having read all her romances in order of publication. My favourite, to date, was Tempting the Bride. However, this probably beats even that. It's a gripping read - full of sexual tension, in large part before the main characters even touch - and although initially you do wonder if you like the hero enough to warrant his wickedness, he is sufficiently vulnerable for you to change your mind. I can't recommend it enough - I read it once, then immediately started to re-read it, because I enjoyed it so much.