Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase
Series: Fallen Women #1
Also in this series: Don't Tempt Me
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 17th 2009
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James Cordier is all blue blood and entirely dangerous. He's a master of disguise, a brilliant thief, a first-class lover—all for King and Country—and, by gad, he's so weary of it. His last mission is to "acquire" a packet of incriminating letters from one notorious woman. Then he can return to London and meet sweet-natured heiresses—not adventuresses and fallen women.
Francesca Bonnard has weathered heartbreak, scorn, and scandal. She's independent, happy, and definitely fallen; and she's learned that "gentlemen" are more trouble than they're worth. She can also see that her wildly attractive new neighbor is bad news.
But as bad as James is, there are others far worse also searching for Francesca's letters. And suddenly nothing is simple—especially the nearly incendiary chemistry between the two most jaded, sinful souls in Europe. And just as suddenly, risking everything may be worth the prize.
With Loretta Chase, it’s all about the dialogue. I have yet to read another historical author who is able to pull off dialogue like she does. I was blown away by it in Lord of Scoundrels, and Your Scandalous Ways doesn’t disappoint.
Francesca is a real live courtesan. I have to applaud Chase for writing such an excellent character that stayed true to her profession. She was bawdy and sensual and independent, which was a refreshing change from so many other historical romance heroines.
I love the humor of the novel. There were several times I literally laughed out loud. For example, as Francesca, her best friend Giulietta and one of her suitors, a prince name Lurenze sit in a coffee house in the wee hours of the morning:
“Not that one,” said Giulietta, nudging his hand away. “This one.” She picked up one of the larger packets and took out the cundum. The ribbon with which one tied it onto the penis was deep red. The prince’s color, which had begun to return to normal, instantly matched the ribbon.
“Is this the largest one you have?” Giulietta asked the seller. “A prince is more magnificent, you know, than the ordinary gentleman.”
“Signorina, I promise you, this will accommodate the greatest size,” said the seller. “These are of the finest quality, of the intestine of the sheep.”
Her face grave, Giulietta tugged on the cundum. Then she stuck her dainty hand into it, as though it were a glove. She held up her sheep-gut-encased hand. “Do you think this will be large and strong enough, your sublimeness?” she said.
Lurenze studied it, eyes narrowed. Then, “I cannot be sure,” he said. “Pull it over your head.”
The characters are well done, and the plot revolving around the letters Francesca stole from her ex-husband was well done and believable. I adored James’ character and the way he tried to fight his growing emotional attachment to Francesca. Especially his jealously over her other suitors. Fabulous.
The banter between James and Francesca is wonderful, as well:
Bonnard opened her mouth, but his highness had already dashed away after Giulietta.
Madame watched them go. “She may be Italian,” she said, “but she is no more likely to throw herself into the canal than I am, as you are undoubtedly aware.”
“You’re so thick,” James said. “You know she did that to get him to go after her. I was merely helping. Are you going to be cross? Had you meant to keep him all to yourself?”
“I had,” she said. “But then I saw you. What, I asked myself, would I want with a beautiful young prince, the possessor of mountains of money he’s desperate to spend on wicked women, when I might spend my time with an ill-mannered, impecunious younger son who begrudges me a few peridots, stirs up trouble with my friends, and can’t make up his mind what he wants?”
“Did you miss me, cara?” he said. “It’s been three whole days and more.”
“So long?” she said. “It felt like three minutes. It seemed I’d hardly got rid of you—and here you are again.”
I can’t put my finger on exactly what, but something is holding me back from giving this a perfect grade. I think it may be the pacing. Though I truly enjoyed the novel, it was easy for me to put it down. I think it took me 5 days to read it, which seems rather excessive for a story I loved. Whatever it was will detract from my grade, but I still highly recommend you read this.
Overall an engaging story with wonderful characters, an unconventional setting and beautiful dialogue. Loretta Chase at her best.
4.5 out of 5
In case you missed it, The Book Smugglers recently hosted a long weekend with Loretta Chase. Be sure to check it out. Also be sure to read Ana’s review. She did a wonderful job of breaking the story down and outlining the finer points.