Lord of Scoundrels
By: Loretta Chase
Published date: October 13, 2009
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
How hot is it: Moderate sexiness.
Hero: Marquess of Dain
Heroine: Jessica Trent
So maybe people will think this book deserves 5 stars because the internet says it’s one of the greatest Regency novels ever, and I liked it, but I just couldn’t give it 5 stars. Mostly because of all the misogyny, but we’ll get to that later.
Don’t get me wrong, the book was great. The characters were interesting, the dialogue was tight and smart, and the plot moved right along with every meeting between the main characters being a veritable firestorm of sparks. The world created in Paris was exotic and dark and sexy, a naughty seduction with talk of orgies and bawdy houses and all manner of indiscretions. It served as the black to the white of England, for when they returned Dain did a complete turnaround and shrugged off the debauched life he’d been living to spend time with his new, pure wife. It’s the dream all ladies dream, that they can be the one to reform a devil. Apparently, they need to shoot him, so I think I’m out, frankly.
The basic story is simple, Jessica Trent is trying to get her nitwit of a brother out of trouble as he’s been carousing with Dain, spending too much money, and in general, going to sh*t. Jessica has heard of Dain as his reputation is rather tainted. What she was not prepared for was her instant attraction to him, and so there’s this pretty flimsy construct where Dain apparently collects icons and must have this particular icon that Jessica bought from the curiosities shop where they met, blah blah. So they meet, and he’s rude and dark and sexy, and she’s sassy and all that stuff. And it’s good. It’s all very good. I can see why this book is popular. The chick shoots the guy, and he’s just fine with it – it’s a high stakes melodrama at its finest.
But then, as promised, there’s the misogyny. And right, I know the Marquess didn’t like women because his mother left him, but let’s face it, most Regencies are written with a modern sensibility nowadays, and his treatment of all women was so, just, ick that I had some trouble with it. I get that it’s one of those stories where the Marquess was more or less abused as a child, and he’s an emotional eight year old, and then she comes along and saves him and yes, sure, fine. And we’re supposed to forgive him all his shortcomings, and I did. I forgave him for being a complete douche who was mean sometimes. That said, lots of parts just made me cringe, and it was hard to really enjoy it how I wanted to enjoy it. Also, Jessica’s end game at the beginning was to open up her own high-end curiosities shop, and then once she meets Dain and they get married, we never hear of that again. And then she becomes a mother to his illegitimate son, and apparently her life is complete. So yeah, there were some things that bothered me.
I’ve read another Loretta Chase book, I think it was something set in the American West, and I remember liking it, but I haven’t felt inclined to read another of her books since. I’m thinking like Mariah Stewart, this is a book for a different generation of readers. It’s terrific in a lot of respects, is well-written, and a must-read, but I’m not sure if it’s a true love match.