Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Arrangement - Joan Wolf

Dear Reader:

I am afraid I am about to do something exceedingly shocking.

My adventure began when I came to the Earl of Savile's castle for the reading of George Devane's will, of which the earl is the executor. I had every intention of refusing George's blood money, but he foiled me by leaving it to my young son, Nicky. Because I am a young widow, this bequest has subjected me to a great deal of unpleasant gossip.

Now I find that I am in the power of the most exciting man I have ever met, a man whose very presence makes me weak, a man who could very well be my ruination.

Remember me in your prayers as I shall need them.

(Mrs.) Gail Saunders

I had already forgotten why I had put this one in the TBR pile and so I had few expectations when I picked it up.

This is a story told in the first person by the heroine. As the story opens Gail Saunders finds herself in a difficult financial situation. She runs a horseback riding school but she is not making enough money to support herself, make improvements in the house she lives in and eventually send her son to school. When she receives the visit Raoul, the Earl of Saville, who wants her to attend the reading of his cousin's will because there's a bequest to her son we can immediately see that there's a mystery in Gail's past.

Gail and Nicky, her son, eventually move to Raoul's house, where his family is gathered, and speculation about Nicky's paternity immediately begins. Gail stands firm on trying to deny any relation between her son and the man who left him money but as she and Raoul seem unable to fight the attraction between them and eventually start an affair her reputation is further damaged. At the same time it becomes obvious that a villain is afoot and someone is trying to attack Nicky. As more than one member of the family may have an interest in making him disappear it is not easy to find the real culprit.

I did like both Gail and Raoul. It is easier to like Gail I think because she is the one telling the story so we don’t have his point of view. It is clear though, from the beginning, that he is a nice man and that he is trying to do the right thing. The story seemed, to me, a bit more complex than your average romance novel both in the romance storyline and in the mystery plot.

I think Wolf managed to write and intriguing and compelling story. I had my suspicions about the bad guy but the final twist was a surprise. I also think the book benefitted from the first person narrative.

Grade: 4.5/5

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