Saturday, December 24, 2005
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
This was a book that has been pretty much hyped for me ever since I joined the girls at Historical Romance Chat. And it has to be said with good reason!! Yes I loved it Rosario!
Dain was an unhappy child who was deserted by his mother, and then packed off and all but disowned by his father. As a consequence, the main defence mechanisms he has learnt are to become the hardest person around, the most notorious rake. He also has a terrible self image, thinking that his dark, mediterranean looks are nothing but ugly, and that they go perfectly with his dark insides. When we first meet him, he is living in Paris, living a life of gambling, drinking and whoring along with a group of his rake friends.
Into this world comes Jessica Trent, trying to rescue her dimwitted brother who likes to be in this world, but is losing so much money that he is nearly bankrupting them. Jessica was orphaned when her parents were killed in a carriage crash, and was bought up be her eccentric grandmother. As a consequence she is more free spirited, and liberated than most young ladies. She has also turned down numerous offers of marriage with the hope of opening her own curio shop.
With neither of them admitting that they want each other, Dain and Jess are constantly playing games around each other. Jess locates a valuable Russian icon that she offers Dain if he expels her brother from his circle of friends, instead Dain draws him further. Dain tries to ruin her reputation by (gasp) removing her glove in a public place and caressing her bare skin, in a scene that was very touching (no pun intended). All of Paris is agog watching the beauty and the beast as they circle each other.
After being witnessed taking things too far in the garden during a ball, Jess' reputation is ruined, and Dain refuses to do the right thing and stand up for her reputation, so she shoots him in a very funny scene (if shooting someone can ever be funny!). After various negotiations, Dane eventually orders her to marry him. Once they are married Jess tries to reach through the hard exterior to the man underneath who she knows is not the beast that he, and everyone else, thinks he is. Watching Jess do this is so moving. A lot of the time whilst reading the second half I was close to tears as they both struggled to understand their own emotions and each other. Having said that, this book was also laugh out loud funny. The introduction of Dain's illegitimate son added additional strength to the story. Watching Dain try to figure out how to love a boy who was so like himself, when he couldn't like himself was beautifully done, and the associated storyline added pace and intrigue to the story.
This book was an excellent, excellent read, and is definitely one of my new favourites of the historical romance genre.