Private Arrangements - Sherry Thomas Warning: GIFs and major spoilers ahead!

Private Arrangements is the tedious story of horrible people being horrible to each other in horrible circumstances. After reading Sherry Thomas's Ravishing the Heiress, I figured that wangst was her schtick. I hate wangst. I'd rather read about things happening than about people complaining all the time. But since Sherry Thomas has so many glowing reviews, I thought, "Well, maybe some of her wangst is more tolerable than the wangst I just read. Everyone deserves a second chance."

And then this book was like:
September 19, 2012: The day I decided, NEVER AGAIN.

Lessons have been learned, my friends.

It wasn't all bad, I suppose. Mostly bad, of course, but a few glimmers of hope in the text kept me reading. Thomas has a very distinctive prose style. She excels at creating an atmospheric sense of despair. This would be well-suited to a horror or suspense novel - or maybe one of those depressing books people like to read about kids with deformities or terminal illnesses (you know the ones) - but really drags down the mood in a romance novel. Every time happiness glimmered on the horizon, the characters dutifully fucked it all up. And the worst thing is that they never really have to fuck it up. They just do. Apparently for the LULZ. It's like the main characters took a blood oath at birth to stand in the way of their own happiness, and in turn, the happiness of all the characters around them and the happiness of any innocent person who happens to read their book.

I am the kangaroo. This book is the fucking bird.

The Story:
Gigi Rowland comes from a family that's mega-rich in trade but not so high in the aristocracy. Her mother, never one to pursue anything but the loftiest ambitions, makes it her life mission to marry Gigi off to a duke. Indeed, Gigi does catch a duke, through less than noble but totes clever means of buying up all his debt and blackmailing him into marriage. Unfortunately, the poor sod dies shortly before the wedding. Or lucky sod, depending on how you look at it. Gigi and her mum think that they're back to square one, but miracle of miracles! The dead duke has a cousin who will inherit the dukedom when his daddy kicks the bucket. The cousin is poor-as-dirt Camden Saybrook, who hogs what Gigi lacks in blue blood but starves for cash where Gigi is rich. Fortunately for Gigi's until then dormant little heart, Camden is super hot and all educated and cultured 'n stuff because his parents had to sweep their kids all over the continent as a result of not having enough money to have a home of their own. She falls in love with him the very day they meet. Okay, so this is looking good. Boy needs money. Girl needs title. They both want to do the horizontal tango. Hearts and butterflies and mix tapes are in their future! Right?

Hell to the no. This is a Sherry Thomas book, you naive fool.

Naturally, Camden has promised his heart to some boring, fickle girl from some European country I can't bother remembering. The girl's about as inspiring as dry toast, okay? She isn't worth the trouble her presence brought to this book. Even though this girl's actively seeking a wealthy, titled husband in England, Camden feels honor-bound to uphold his adolescent pledges of eternal love. When Gigi points out all the reasons he should insert his Tab A into her Slot B in the marriage bed, Camden's still like, "Even though I masturbate to you, like, constantly, my heart has been pledged to another. Just friends, 'kay?"

And Gigi's like:
"Oprah and I are NOT buying your shit."

So, like any other enterprising Victorian girl, Gigi takes matters into her own hands. With the help of a poorly forged letter and a slight lack of ethics, she tricks Camden into doing exactly what he wants. They promptly set a wedding date. Everything's GLORIOUS, for like a minute, until Camden discovers Gigi's betrayal a day before the wedding.

Now, instead of behaving like a fucking HUMAN BEING and confronting Gigi about the deceit directly, Camden literally runs across the village in a fit of angst like an infinitely less cool Forrest Gump and then decides that he must have REVENGE. I'm not sure if Camden got more upset over Gigi's forged letter from the "other woman" saying that Miss Boring was betrothed to another or if he was pissed at himself for being stupid enough to believe it in the first place. Either way, Miss Boring really does get betrothed to someone else, so all the whinging in the world wouldn't have brought Camden to any other place than into Gigi's willing arms. What Gigi did was crappy, but at least she did it out of LOVE for Camden. If he had confronted her before the wedding and talked or yelled it out, I'm sure they still would have decided to fuck like rabbits. What I'm trying to get across is this: The wangst in this book was easily avoidable!

Like a romance hero after my own fantasies, Camden pretends that everything's totes cool until the wedding night. He tries to act all dickish but can't quite pull it off until after he screws the daylights out of Gigi. You know, to rid himself of his disgusting lust for her. They have sex, and it's earth-shattering while angels probably cry tears of joy in the heavens, and Gigi's incredibly happy.

Enter: Camden taking a massive dump on all things happy the morning after. He curses Gigi, refuses to accept her apologies, and leaves her high and dry for ten years. Yes, because abandoning the wife that you DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TO MARRY IN THE FIRST PLACE is totes nobler than the actions of a freaking teenager forging a letter and releasing you from an ill-suited marriage.

Even Neil Degrasse Tyson can't make sense of this shit.

Ten long, painful years pass until Gigi decides that she's had ENOUGH of her absentee husband. She wants a divorce so she can remarry a younger man who naively worships the ground she walks on. At the age of 29, Gigi is now a seasoned cougar, apparently. If we lived in a fair world, Camden would have granted the divorce and released us from the torturous inanity of this plot. But this is a very UNfair world, so Europe's Wettest Blanket (AKA Camden) returns to London from America to make one last demand of his dear wife.

Camden wants an heir before he'll grant her a divorce. Yes, an heir. And then he'll grant her a divorce. Let that sink in. Camden, an educated marquess, wants to knock up the wife he doesn't like, get an heir, and then sentence the kiddo to a life of shame and humiliation by granting a scandalous divorce to the baby's mother. Camden is just like a soap opera villain, only not interesting at all because he's a whiny bitch.

I got incredibly bored with the story at this point. It was just a lot of pain and whinging to reach a foregone conclusion.

Hate sex ... hate sex ... hate sex ...

Sorta/kinda like sex with all the erotic appeal of this:

Pointless, boring scenes dedicated to Gigi's mum having not very clever conversations with the single duke down the street. Because the ONE THING this stupid-fest needed was a secondary love story.

I love her. I love her not. I love her. I love her not.

I love him. I love him not. I love him. I love him not.

Stupid angsty quotes that totally don't fit the actual problems these people have, like ...
Camden slapped down the towel and caught his own reflection in the mirror above the washbasin. He looked about as happy as the citizenry of Paris on the eve of the Storming of the Bastille, primed for violence and mayhem.

Painful separation.

Stupid quotes that confirm that this IS NOT romance ...
True, there were all sorts of ways he could bludgeon her, with the diminished but still powerful husbandly prerogatives granted him under English law. But in the end, what would it accomplish?

A gratuitous scene of Camden hob-nobbing with the Vanderbilts, Astors and Morgans.

A rushed and unsatisfactory reunion.

And then, god help me, this ...
"She turned onto her back and slid a knuckle across her lower lip. "Won't you come to bed and make me pregnant?"


The. Fucking. End.

I know that Sherry Thomas has a lot of fans. If this kind of story floats your boat, that's great. Sadly, this is just NOT my cup of tea.

My reading of this book is a result of a devious Buddy Square Read. Check out Karla, Kerrie, and Sarah's reviews for some more wacky perspectives into the books of Sherry Thomas.