When Lord of Scoundrels appeared on the NPR list of romances to read, and my library had it with no waiting I said sure! Let’s give it a go. From the mid-90’s it’s definitely an older romance in a lot of ways, but there’s one thing that makes it all worth while: Jessica Trent is a heroine I and everyone else can believe in, love, and wish often that our current heroines behaved like her.
This time we have Jessica Trent, a blueblood of no special consequence, and Sebastian, the Marquess of Dain, titular Lord of Scoundrels and nicknamed Beelzebub by the ton for his indecent behavior. Jessica meets our hero while trying to rescue her nitwit brother from Dain’s gang of gamblers, drinkers, etc. From their meeting both are attracted to each other, and it was lovely to read a clearly older story where the heroine not only recognizes her attraction, but is okay with that reaction. From their meeting the story develops with each of them working their way towards coming together, and this being from the 90’s needing to get married halfway through the book so “events can transpire”. The second half of the book is their establishing an actual relationship beyond the physical, and that’s where it catches one by surprise.
So, obviously, I read a fair amount of romances. I know the tropes, and the general plot movements of the stories. Seeing that is one was older I was continually surprised throughout that Ms. Chase not only avoided the general pit-falls of romances that drive me nuts, she also completely wrote against genre type (for the time) and it really does result in something special. Jessica is a modern heroine in ways that I see current authors borrowing from. She’s the smartest person in the room, knows it, and uses it to her full advantage. She’s not a cowed virgin, but feisty and fun virgin, and all I could ever ask for in a heroine. The one thing that really got me, and took the old school from 3 to 4 stars was the ending. There was the setup for the “great misunderstanding”, and Ms. Chase laughed as we all sighed. Because instead of a misunderstanding our characters didn’t go behind each other’s backs, but instead went directly to one another, talked, and worked things out. It was delightful! And I wish more romances would do that these days.
If you have noticed that I’ve avoided discussing Sebastian it’s because, honestly, he was a pretty mediocre/ugh hero. Jessica more than made up for him though, and if she wanted him, then heck yes! you go be happy with him girl! For romance readers out there this is a must read, even if it’s now a little outdated. It shows both how far the genre has come, while at the same time clearly being a basis for many current authors.