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The Arrangement by Joan Wolf
I wasn't sure if I should post a review of this book, as it really isn't a gothic at all. However, about all the other boxes can be ticked off, and I would like to write a positive review for a change, so here goes!

The year is 1818 and our heroine is Gail, 27, a widow with an eight-year-old son, Nicky. She's been barely making a living by giving newly rich people riding lessons. The hero is Raoul, the Earl of Savile. He turns up at her house with an invitation to attend the reading of the will of his cousin, because her son Nick stands to inherit something. Gail would rather have nothing to do with this inheritance or the deceased's family, but she thinks it's best to resolve this matter in person, so she travels with the earl to his castle. There she will meet several people, who may or may not have her best interests at heart.

The first mystery the reader is presented with, is the parentage of young Nick. Is he the bastard son of the Earl of Savile's cousin? Gail denies it, but won't tell you the real story.
Then attempts appear to be made on Nicky's life, so someone must be in on the mystery.
In the meantime the attraction between Raoul and Gail grows stronger and they become lovers, although Gail knows that Raoul will never marry her because of their differences in station.

There's much I liked about this book. The story was captivating, the people were sympathetic, the dialogue lovely, and above all: everything was credible and logical. The prose was wonderful, light, and never over-the-top or confusing. Savile castle and the way its residents lived in total luxury was portrayed excellently and you knew that Gail would truly hit the jackpot when she married handsome, wise, charismatic Raoul. (You really didn't believe they couldn't marry because of the differences in station, did you?). Wink

I loved the story and didn't mind that the darkness of a true gothic was missing. I'll be looking forward to reading more from this author.
My verdict: an 8 out of 10.
Sounds interesting! I think I'll look into this one--thanks for the review.

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