It’s been 6 long years since I’ve read a Sherry Thomas book. She has had quite a few out but I was burned by one particular book SO BAD that I was scared to pick up anything else. This one, The Luckiest Lady in London, isn’t even from the same series as that other book but I had issues why, though I bought it, I never read it.
The Luckiest Lady in London is the book 1 of London Trilogy. Usually I’m a stickler for following series in order but then, this series is quite different. First of all, when I read books 2 and 3, Private Arrangements and His At Night back in 2011/12 they had no series title. Just books that were connected by characters. The Luckiest Lady in London wasn’t even published. And even though I like to recap series info on my reviews, this one will have no recap of the other 2 books. Maybe snippets if I remember anything but that’ll be all.
Private Arrangements was the first book I read by Sherry Thomas, that kind of changed my opinion of a ‘cheating romance’. It’s a theme I avoid at all cost if I know the h or the H of the book has cheated even once. But in here, the author handled the whole thing in such a way that you just feel for the characters. Cheating was kind of technical since the H and h, Camden and Gigi, were separated by a big misunderstanding that pretty much ruined both of their lives. So they tried to move on, even if they were still married and totally in love with one-another, though that takes them a while to discover. His At Night isn’t really directly connected to book 1, though you’ll see references of the H Lord Vere a few times. I have fond memories book 3 and highly recommend that you read both because they’re just so good!
Now Felix Riverdale, the hero of The Luckiest Lady in London, was briefly introduced in Private Arrangements as Gigi’s ex-lover. They had this brief affair that ended as fast it began because they decided that wasn’t the right direction for their relationship. They were still good friends. Frankly speaking, at that time, I wasn’t interested in reading about h or H’s lovers appearing as the hero or heroine of another installment of the series. That seemed to muddy the whole thing for me. I was even annoyed that the author thought Felix even needed a book! So I avoided this book like a plague.
My taste certainly changed since then and damn if I wasn’t stupidly wrong to avoid this gem of a romance for so long! I do regret for not picking it up before now, when things in my life isn’t going to well. The recent illness of my mom has put a dent on every enjoyment of my life and it includes reading. I loved the book so much yet I felt that I couldn’t quite enjoy it to its fullest because I was distracted the whole month that I was reading it. Maybe I’ll do a rereading when things settle down a bit for me, I don’t know.
As the story begins, we find that Felix’s childhood was nothing short of miserable. He was an ardent little boy who loved his mama, yet was being used by her as a pawn to punish his father. Felix’s father, the Marquess of Wrenworth, married the most beautiful debutante of the season by the weight of his money. His mother had tendre for another young man but was forced to do her own father’s bidding. And she made both Felix and his father pay for this ‘transgression’, lived a miserable life herself and died, what I could surmise, when she was in her late 30s or early 40s. His heartbroken father, who still seemed to be pining for his wife, followed her soon thereafter.
Felix had tried his best to show his love in various ways to both his parents, and was rejected thoroughly by both. His mother, so beautiful yet so full of spite and venom; his father, listless but always suspicious that Felix wasn’t his own. All because he fell for his wife’s games. Felix resembled his mother to a T, from his extreme good looks down to his slight but athletic build so it was really easy for the Marchioness to play the games. Later in life though, when Felix figured out his mother’s games and all her strategies, he also knew that there was no question about his birth.
Unfortunately, this also shaped Felix’s life and his personality. He was a sensitive little man and the repeated rejection of his parents made him realize that love is for the fools. That asking for affection is the one way ticket to heartaches. So, as he grew up to be the new Marquess of Wrenworth, Felix decided there’d be a new ‘him’ in existence from now on. This reinvented Felix will be cool and calm, detached from anyone and everyone but will have no faults for anyone to find. ‘The Perfect Gentleman’ he was called by everyone around him. Successful in his quest, Felix was now someone everyone looked upon. People adored him and vied for his attention everywhere he went. Not that Felix was just a pretty face, oh no! Though it did sweeten his appeal that he was so gorgeous. In his wretched childhood, as lonely as he was an only child, Felix had diverted his attentions to studies of various things. But his sole interest was in the study of Astronomy. With the money he inherited, Felix could do all sorts of things to ease the way of his study of the sky, to discover new comets and stars. It was obvious that he was brilliant! He thought he was living the life, even knowing someday he will probably have to marry, never even thinking beyond that. But fate had other plans for him. A lively miss named Louisa Cantwell entered the scenery that’s called a London Season and Felix’s life began unraveling. Whether in a good way or in a bad way, he was yet to figure that one out.
Louisa came from an almost impoverished, barely-clinging-on-to-their-nobility, family. Her father was penniless and a known fortune hunter. Her mother came from a good family but inherited little money. With no sons, 5 daughters and her father already dead, Louisa’s family desperately needed intervention of the financial kind, and soon. One of her sisters had some type of mental health issue since birth so she needed constant care and someone to be with her always. Her older sister was the most beautiful one of the bunch but she had a failed season, never been married and doesn’t seem to be interested either. Louisa, as she was always told, was plain in comparison to her sisters. But she was also the most driven, inventive and dare I say, the smartest of the bunch. I also thought she was pretty in her own way. She knew she needed to nab a husband as soon as she can to save her family from going to the poorhouse. That was her goal, and despite all sorts of signs pointing towards a magnificent failure, she wasn’t about to give up. She wasn’t the best looking debutante at her advanced age of 24, which she tried to cover by using any inventive approach she could find to make herself look more attractive (bust improvers, anyone? :D). I liked her immediately cause she wasn’t hiding the fact that she was there in search of a rich husband. And no matter what, people liked her joviality and her overall personality even if she knew her prospects in the marriage mart didn’t look so well.
Louisa had already chosen two men when she and Felix were introduced. It was kind of accidental, yet seemed like it was meant to be. Felix moved into a much higher ranked circle, where Louisa generally didn’t get invited. So she’d never seen him before. But like everybody else she knew of the much elusive ‘The Perfect Gentleman’, The Marquess of Wrenworth. What Louisa hadn’t counted on was how absolutely, heart-breakingly magnificent he was. Or the uninhibited lust, the insane attraction she’d experience the first time she clapped her eyes on him. She was a virgin but she also knew what her body wanted. It decided on Felix and no one else will do, even if her brain knew it was soooo not a good idea! The feelings she had when she was closed to Felix was indescribable. She just wanted him. It was that plain and simple.
In the beginning, it wasn’t the same for Felix. He was actually quite amused because he knew the signs. Her quick breath and the blush she tried to fight told him what she wanted, even if when she looked at him it was a look of suspicion even when they glazed over. :P As if she didn’t know what was going on in his mind and it scared her, made her uncomfortable, even if she wanted to jump him whenever they met. Felix caught the fever pretty soon and it turned into a kind of obsession that he initially tried to deny. He thought it was fun to rile her up. I mean what would he do with a respectable woman like Louisa Cantwell? He wasn’t gonna marry her for sure. Would she want to be his mistress? The thought of Louisa plagued Felix so much that he finally gave into the forbidden by deciding to test the waters. And I’ll tell you that even he, the most manipulative man in the world with the most organized of minds, had no idea what the hell he was doing. It seemed like a game, but something equally inevitable that he was unable to stop.
Soon, the game proved to be too much for both, especially Felix. After a few kisses, some innuendo filled banters and intense eye-full of one another Felix finally proposes that Louisa becomes his mistress. Once a year, for 2 weeks, when his annual house-party is on. Weird I know, but that’s how his mind worked. The rest of the year Louisa will be living in a house he’d give her. She’ll have all the money she needed so that her family would never have to go without.
Of course, Louisa, who was shocked, doesn’t agree to it. But not because she didn’t want to. Oh no! She was this close to saying ‘yes’. To throw caution in the wind. She had no illusions that someone so rich, handsome and accomplished as the Marquess of Wrenworth would marry her, a penniless nobody, even if it hurt a little. But she also had a family to think of. And ruining her chances of a respectable marriage would ruin her sisters’ chances as well. I loved how she pried herself away from Felix knowing, once again, any association with him will bring no good for her yet wanting it all the same. :)
But that wasn’t enough for Felix. He, finally, out of the blue proposes to her. The length he goes to make certain that Louisa was impressed, even if she’d be forever suspicious of his motives was really funny, at time exasperating and so damned hot! I knew he was already close to falling in love. His heart had already spoken. It had found The One, even if he with all his might tried to deny this fact. Because every time he remembered that lost little boy of his childhood, it scared the hell out of him. Yet he was enjoying his ‘game’ with Louisa so very much that the thought of someone else marrying her just didn’t seem right. He was determined to have her all to himself so he deters her from considering the two previous beaus she had by some unfair means. Something that comes to haunt their relationship later in the story.
The marriage and the subsequent consummation could’ve been extremely hot and sensuous, if Felix didn’t go and ruin the whole thing himself. The idiot, knowing what may have been occurring in his foolish heart, decided it was better to detach himself once again. Becoming The Perfect Gentleman and keep Louisa at arm’s length now that he’s gotten her bound to him for good. I was shaking my head, because it was SO DUMB! To knowingly hurt her this way. Not only by keeping himself detached but also denying her his company. Denying what they had in bed. That was one place where they were compatible beyond any doubt. I hated the things Felix did to Louisa to keep her away, but the worst was when Felix’s annual house-party was finally on its way and his invited guests began arriving, including Lady Tremaine AKA Gigi. I get that she was a regular guest but he had to invite her too, on his freakin’ honeymoon??? And if I’m being brutally honest, I hated Gigi in this book. If I had read this book before hers, I’d have a very different POV about her for sure. It felt like neither she nor Felix cared what Louisa thought or felt, the way they carried on. The way they alluded to their once intimate relationship. One of the scenes was where Felix knew Louisa was somewhere close by and listening to them. It was horrible! Because I couldn’t see the point at all but to be cruel to Louisa.
It was given that Felix will have a lot to answer for when he finally came to his senses. Seeing Louisa flirting with any other man sure didn’t sit well with him. It was like a splash of cold water on his face, making him realize what he was doing by pushing her away. Is that what he really wanted from this marriage?
The next chapters of the book went relatively smooth, with Felix trying to make it up to her by being The Perfect Husband this time. As if he was on a single-minded mission to win his wife’s heart; whether he’d surrender his own would remain to be seen. The chapters where he took so much time and preparation to teach Louisa the basics of Astronomy because she was also interested in his favorite subject? Simply adorable! Only he had no idea she was already in love with him. So much so that she’d always be a little suspicious of his intentions. I liked these chapters a lot. Felix and Louisa were at times rather awkward with each-other because he’d done some damage to their relationship but nothing irreparable. Or so Felix thought. On the other hand, Louisa was just too scared to hope too much. She wanted Felix’s love but she wasn’t sure if he was capable of actually loving anyone the way she wanted him to. How could she live for that matter, never really knowing her husband? Could she ever trust him with anything, least of all her heart?
Frankly, I could go and on about the book but the truth remains. The Luckiest Lady in London was a spectacular book. From the exceptional writing to the complex characters to the way Sherry Thomas wove the tale of two completely different people falling head-over-heels for one-another. I loved every bit of it! 5 stars and highly recommended if you haven’t read it already.