Series: Fallen Women

Review: Don’t Tempt Me by Loretta Chase

Posted August 25, 2009 by Holly in Reviews | 6 Comments

Review: Don’t Tempt Me by Loretta ChaseReviewer: Holly
Don't Tempt Me by Loretta Chase
Series: Fallen Women #2
Also in this series: Your Scandalous Ways
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: June 30th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, General
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Spunky English girl overcomes impossible odds and outsmarts heathen villains.
That's the headline when Zoe Lexham returns to England. After twelve years in the exotic east, she's shockingly adept in the sensual arts. She knows everything a young lady shouldn't and nothing she ought to know. She's a walking scandal, with no hope of a future . . . unless someone can civilize her.
Lucien de Grey, the Duke of Marchmont, is no knight in shining armor. He's cynical, easily bored, and dangerous to women. He charms, seduces, and leaves them—with parting gifts of expensive jewelry to dry their tears. But good looks, combined with money and rank, makes him welcome everywhere. The most popular bachelor in the Beau Monde can easily save Zoe's risqué reputation . . . if the wayward beauty doesn't lead him into temptation, and a passion that could ruin them both.

 

For some reason, books by Loretta Chase are really hard for me to review. I don’t know why that is, exactly, but I’ve had this one sitting here for a month and haven’t been able to finish it. Instead of slaving over it anymore, I’m just going ramble on and see what happens.

One of the things Chase does extremely well is dialogue. There is always excellent dialogue between her characters. Not just between Zoe and Marchmont in this case, but also between Zoe and her maid, her sisters and her father, plus Marchmont with his friends and the members of Zoe’s family. Their quick-witted banter often saved this from becoming long or drawn out.

I really adored Zoe. She was a no-nonsense girl who had grown up in an unconventional world. As a result she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she wants or speak her mind. As this is a historical novel, that was rather refreshing. Even more so since Marchmont didn’t know what to do with her half the time; generally he struggled between wanting to kiss her and wanting to kill her.

Marchmont was harder to pin down. I think the problem with him is that he was a study in contradictions. In the beginninng we’e led to believe he’s a lost, tortured soul. But as the novel progresses he seems more lazy and indolent than anything else. Toward the end Chase tried to bring him back to the darkness of the beginning, but it fell kind of flat for me.

That isn’t to say I didn’t like him. Because I did. Quite a bit, actually. He was sweet and sensitive, and the way he couldn’t resist Zoe was priceless. I just didn’t buy that he was a dark, tortured soul in need of saving. More one who needed to grow up and accept responsibility for his actions.

In that I think Zoe and Marchmont really complimented each other. She was able to give him the push he needed to stand up and do the right thing and he was able to support her and show her that she was safe. I really loved their chemistry and how well they fit together – both in the bedroom and out of it.

The secondary characters really added extra flavor to the story. Zoe’s sisters especially cracked me up. I wouldn’t have wanted to live with them, but reading about their hysterics and theatrics was priceless.

The mystery angle that popped up toward the end just seemed like filler. I honestly don’t think it served a purpose other than adding more conflict to Zoe and Marchmont’s relationship and forcing him to grow up a bit. Otherwise it seemed more over the top than anything. (Though I will say that bathtub scene toward the end really got me.)

Overall I enjoyed the witty banter and sweetness of Zoe and Marchmont’s relationship, though this wasn’t the best Chase has to offer.

3.5 out of 5

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars

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Review: Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase

Posted July 1, 2008 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta ChaseReviewer: Holly
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
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, General
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

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

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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.

four-half-stars

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