While struggling with my current "work in progress" which is as much of a prequel as a sequel to THE HIGHEST STAKES, I asked a friend if she had read any really good novels that employed flashbacks to tell the backstory story.
She recommended Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas, which I immediately ordered. It arrived yesterday and I finished it late last night in a solitary sitting. It was incredible! I won't go into any plot details but just offer my overall impression.
I loved her employment of flashbacks and never found it confusing, moreover, the story is superbly crafted in every way. It is beautifully descriptive, with meticulous historical touches which include the art, engineering, and technological advances of the age (late nineteenth century).
The characters are realistically flawed, with the herione at times operating out of selfish, or even ruthless motives. The very honorable hero becomes the unknowning victim of manipulation, which compels him to less-than-honorable actions as well. The result is unhappiness for both with repercussions they are eventually forced to face.
The romance is very sensual without being overly graphic, and deeply moving. The characters unexpectedly fall in love, lose one another, try to move on and fail, and then ultimately rediscover their mutual passion, finally learning to forgive and forget the past.
This the first novel I have read by Ms.Thomas and certainly won't be the last.