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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ARC Review: The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

There is just something about the way that Sherry Thomas writes that speaks to me on a visceral level. Even when the story is not especially strong (as with this one) I am completely drawn in. When I begin to read one of her books it’s get-your-own-dinner, leave-me-alone time at our house. I simply can’t stop until the end. The Luckiest Lady in London is an intriguing book that I loved reading, but it missed the mark for me in some important ways.

The book begins by describing details of the childhood of Felix Rivendale, particularly his frustration and disappointment in trying to please parents who were at odds with each other. This background information is intended to help us understand the adult Felix and should explain his disjointed behavior. As an adult (and as the Marquess of Wrenworth) Felix is one of the most sought-after eligible gentlemen in society. He has dealt with his past by cultivating an image as The Ideal Gentleman. Louisa Cantwell is the designated fortune hunter for her family. With four other sisters (one who needs special care) Louisa is one chosen to go forth and find a wealthy husband in order to secure their futures. She attacks the issue in a totally practical and calculating way and she is prepared to make this sacrifice for the family. When she meets Felix her physical attraction to him is intense, but she immediately sees through his Ideal Gentleman veneer. He also can see Louisa’s diabolical side and it intrigues him. They begin a cat-and-mouse game in which Felix finally proposes. Everyone tells Louisa that she is the luckiest lady in London to have landed such a great catch. Louisa knows better; Felix is troubled and she finds she cannot trust him. The rest of the book involves the months of their early marriage and they struggle to understand their feelings about themselves and each other.

I loved the first half of the book as Felix and Louisa play mental games with each other. It was touching and funny at the same time. The biggest problem I had with the entire book was that I never really understood Felix. This was surprising considering that Thomas went to a great deal of trouble to make sure the reader could grasp his childhood anguish. In spite of that, his behavior seemed erratic, illogical, and even cruel. It was difficult to understand why a very sensible girl like Louisa would put up with him. This is going to sound strange, but I also had trouble picturing what he looked like. Yes, there were plenty of descriptions, but somehow they just wouldn’t form into an image for me. Louisa was one of the most openly sexual virginal characters I have ever encountered. I didn’t find this objectionable, but it was a little unusual. To sum up, I mostly loved The Luckiest Lady in London, but was a bit frustrated with Felix. Sherry Thomas always digs deep into her characters’ psyches, but this time the emotions were perhaps too complicated. Nevertheless, she is one of the best writers of historical romance and I will continue to read anything she writes.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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