I was ready for a good romance novel and discovered Lord of Scoundrels (1995) by Loretta Chase on Cannonball. This was my first Chase novel, and I think I will be reading more in the future. The plot was not something I would regularly enjoy, but Chase’s writing is good. She makes her characters sympathetic and understandable, even when they are unlikable.
Jessica is independent, over twenty-five, and unmarried. She’s earned herself a good income by buying and selling unique items she comes across. Her goal is to open up her own shop in London. But first she must travel to Paris to save her fool of a brother from ruining himself under the influence of the notorious Lord Dain. Dain is rich and powerful, but he hates himself. His mother abandoned him as a child before dying of a fever. His father detested him and sent him off to boarding school, basically disowning him. Dain spends his time gambling, making more money, and having wild orgies at his home in Paris.
Instead of besting Dain, Jessica is immediately attracted to him–and the attraction is mutual. The two argue and fight, but there is no denying it. The plot gets a little convoluted in the middle (more on that later), but Dain and Jessica wind up getting married. However, Dain is far from healed, and simple attraction is not enough to save them. The rest of the book is Jessica slowly learning and understanding what’s going on in Dain’s head as she helps him become a better and more whole person.
I definitely liked this book. The characters and situations were fun to read about, and I liked the depth that Chase gave to Lord Dain. He does some really horrible things, and without that understanding, some of his actions would have been unforgivable. It was because of Chase’s writing that I did not give up on him completely.
However, a couple of things rubbed me the wrong way. First, I really did roll my eyes a couple of times at plot points in the middle of the book. Jessica shoots Dain after he almost ruins her, and then she sues him–which eventually leads to their marriage. Shooting someone is serious, crazy business. I know she’s supposed to be a remarkable shot and could avoid bone, but what if she’d hit his brachial artery? What about infection? Infection is a problem now, and we have antibiotics now! You can’t just shoot someone and not have any consequences. Second, Dain’s attitude toward every woman but Jessica was horrible. I understand he has reasons, but even understanding where he was coming from made it almost impossible to like him. Jessica is a supremely understanding saint who manages to not take Dain’s actions personally as she changes his entire life. I accepted it all because I enjoyed reading the book, but generally I like nicer heroes.
You can find all of my reviews on my blog.