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Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas - Romance>Historical OtherLove has designs of its own....
To all of London society, Lord and Lady Tremaine had the ideal arrangement: a marriage based on civility, courteousness, and freedom--by all accounts, a perfect marriage. The reason? For the last ten years, husband and wife have resided on separate continents.
But once upon a time, things were quite different for the Tremaines....When Gigi Rowland first laid eyes on Camden Saybrook, the attraction was immediate and overwhelming. But what began in a spark of passion ended in betrayal the morning after their wedding--and now Gigi wants to be free to marry again. When Camden returns from America with an outrageous demand in exchange for her freedom, Gigi's decision will have consequences she never imagined, as secrets are exposed, desire is rekindled--and one of London's most admired couples must either fall in love all over again...or let each other go forever.
From the Paperback edition.
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8 May 1893
Only one kind of marriage ever bore Society's stamp of approval.
Happy marriages were considered vulgar, as matrimonial felicity rarely kept longer than a well-boiled pudding. Unhappy marriages were, of course, even more vulgar, on a par with Mrs. Jeffries's special contraption that spanked forty bottoms at once: unspeakable, for half of the upper crust had experienced it firsthand.
No, the only kind of marriage that held up to life's vicissitudes was the courteous marriage. And it was widely recognized that Lord and Lady Tremaine had the most courteous marriage of them all.
In the ten years since their wedding, neither of them had ever uttered an unkind word about the other, not to parents, siblings, bosom friends, or strangers. Moreover, as their servants could attest, they never had spats, big or small; never embarrassed each other; never, in fact, disagreed on anything at all.
However, every year some cheeky debutante fresh from the schoolroom would point out--as if it weren't common knowledge--that Lord and Lady Tremaine lived on separate continents and had not been seen together since the day after their wedding.
Her elders would shake their heads. Foolish young girl. Wait 'til she heard about her beau's piece on the side. Or fell out of love with the man she married. Then she'd understand what a wonderful arrangement the Tremaines had: civility, distance, and freedom from the very beginning, unencumbered by tiresome emotions. Indeed, it was the most perfect marriage.
Therefore, when Lady Tremaine filed for divorce on grounds of Lord Tremaine's adultery and desertion, chins collided with dinner plates throughout London's most pedigreed dining rooms. Ten days later, as news circulated of Lord Tremaine's arrival on English soil for the first time in a decade, the same falling jaws dented many an expensive carpet from the heart of Persia.
The story of what happened next spread like a well-fed gut. It went something tantalizingly like this: A summons came at the Tremaine town house on Park Lane. Goodman, Lady Tremaine's faithful butler, answered the bell. On the other side of the door stood a stranger, one of the most remarkable-looking gentlemen Goodman had ever come across--tall, handsome, powerfully built, an imposing presence.
"Good afternoon, sir," Goodman said placidly. A representative of the Marchioness of Tremaine, however impressed, neither gawked nor gushed.
He expected to be offered a calling card and a reason for the call. Instead, he was handed the gentleman's headgear. Startled, he let go of his hold on the doorknob and took the satin-trimmed top hat. In that instant, the man walked past him into the vestibule. Without a backward glance or an explanation for this act of intrusion, he began pulling off his gloves.
"Sir," Goodman huffed. "You do not have permission from the lady of the house to enter."
The man turned around and shot Goodman a glance that, to the butler's shame, made him want to curl up and whimper. "Is this not the Tremaine residence?"
"It is, sir." The reiteration of sir escaped Goodman, though he hadn't intended for it to happen.
"Then kindly inform me, since when does the master of the house require permission from the lady to enter into his own domain?" The man held his gloves together in his right hand and slapped them quietly against the palm of his left, as if toying with a riding crop.
Goodman didn't understand. His employer was the Queen Elizabeth of her time: one mistress and no master. Then the horror dawned. The man before him was the Marquess of Tremaine, the marchioness's long-absent, good-as-dead...
Private ArrangementsBy: Sherry Thomas