Monday, May 10, 2010

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Title: Lord of Scoundrels
Author: Loretta Chase
Publisher: Avon (1995)

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase is set in early 19th Century England (with sojourns to Paris) and follows the indefatigable Jessica Trent as she tries to figure out the incorrigible Lord Dain. Jessica Trent, a genteel, unmarried young lady, goes to Paris to fetch her dim-witted brother before he entirely squanders the small family fortune. While in Paris she encounters Lord Dain, notorious (and rich!) shunner of society and first-class debaucher. Through a series of delightful and sexually charged events, she and Dain marry before they even know if they like each other. We can rest easy in this as it's a romance so we already know their fate but, also, while Chase doesn’t knock the reader over the head, it’s still pretty clear that these two can only be meant for each other because probably no one else could stand to live with them for long. They have very strong personalities.

This book is a lot of fun to read. The dialogue is great and the unexpected responses will make you laugh out loud. Even halfway through the book when I thought I had Jessica figured out she would pop out with something that left me surprised and laughing. Dain is wonderfully delicious but I’m not overly fond of the Bad Boy Because of Bad Past hero so that aspect of his character did nothing for me. I can’t fault Chase for that, though, it’s merely disinclination on my part but she wrote it well so it was easy to get over. What I would have liked more of was Dain’s oft-described but little seen Character of Bad Repute. It may be that the reader of romance knows that the hero is never truly evil so I couldn't accept his bad character or it may have been that Jessica was so flippant about it that that was what impressed me most or perhaps my modern sensibilities aren't fine-tuned enough to historical social scandals... In any case, I like to see a bit more of the bad in the Bad Boy rather than just be told about him. Then again, maybe this is something I'll never see in romance. If the hero was truly, deep-down-inside bad then he probably wouldn't be the hero, would he?

Characterization was almost universally well-done. My point of contention was with lack of motive outside of the main characters. I felt that only two of the supporting characters were actually assigned motive. However, others of the supporting cast were a bit empty for me, entertaining but empty. I actually became really aggravated with the dim-witted brother character. That poor sop took so much crap. I realize he was a dim-wit but after a while I was like, let up, Chase, and give this guy a chance or quit putting him in scenes. It was becoming painful to watch him in action. Luckily he does completely drop out of the story right around the time you really don’t want to see any more of him.

My teensy complaints aside, I give this book a hearty recommendation. It's funny with snappy dialogue and a thoughtful plot. Jessica and Dain are loads of fun to watch interact! The pacing is excellent making it a definite page-turner. I actually think this is Chase's best book but maybe someone out there thinks she's got one that's even better. If so, please, do share!

rating: 4 of 5 stars


  1. Ok, well, you asked for it, so here goes:

    My ambivalent feelings about this book are 3 parts love to 1 part deep dismay. The love parts are all about how much I laughed and how I adored the verbal/ psychological dance they go through on the way to HEA. The 1 part dismay came down to a single word. Kind of unfair to weigh one word against the roughly 100K total, perhaps, but there you have it: readers often don't respond to books with pure logic. It was the sentence where Dain, who is half Italian, is in an agony of low self-esteem (caused by the neglect and emotional abuse in his childhood), feeling unworthy of Jessica, and telling himself he should not touch her with his 'blackamoor' hands. Because of that one word, I've read all other Chase titles since bracing against other such pitfalls.

    Because there were no such booby traps (though the situation skated a little close to colonial paternalism on Rupert's part in one place)and because it's so funny my own vote for best Chase title is 'Mr. Impossible'. In my top five commercial fiction books, ever.

    BTW: your post on my blog today made me laugh a lot, too.

  2. Maya, you bring up such a great point! I have a lot of trouble with that type of thing as well (including the colonial paternalism that you mention in Rupert) and I am not sure if it's adherence to the current sentiments of the time period or unacceptable. I think, though, that it would have to come down to unacceptable. So many of these historicals take huge liberties with societal norms/sentiments re gender relations and such that if you're going to stretch accuracy then you ought to be fair in all respects and realize that many readers are deeply offended by such cavalier attitudes to an issue that continues to be very serious even now. And even if you suspected that not a single one of your readers would be offended it still isn't really acceptable.

    I think romance has a lot in common with scifi in this manner. You can really see the socialization of the author in the liberties they find acceptable in historical accuracy and the societal set-ups in futuristic environs.

    And on a less serious note, I also really like Mr. Impossible though it doesn't have as many laugh-out-loud moments for me. However, that scene in the jail at the beginning might be one of the funniest I've ever read.

  3. AnonymousMay 11, 2010

    I don't even know what blackamoor is. I tried Googling it, but don't I understand how it is offensively used in the book. Guess I should read the book and steer clear of using the word blackamoor. Is this a common term that I completely missed hearing during my 35 years on the planet? malona

  4. Schmelly Belly?????? Hello!!!!!!!! mwuah!

    These historicals often use language that is not really common anymore, if it ever was in the US, plus it's a slur and so probably not the kind of word you would hear, read, or use.

    Try this link for a definition.

  5. I know I'm going to love this book - I'm going to have to special order it, because so far, I haven't found it on the shelf.

  6. Hi Julia! That's the thing with the best ones, they are rarely on the shelf - already purchased! :)