Review: Lord of Scoundrels (Scroundels 03) by Loretta Chase

Form: pdf file, e-book
Genre: regency historical romance
Target audience: adult women
He is an inveterate rake with a lot of money, an ugly, dark beast with a big nose and big…everything else. Intimidating, admired and feared whenever he chooses to be, Lord Dain seems to be like a force of nature. If he wants something he buys it immediately.
She is a beauty and a proper lady but from an impoverished family.  She has a nose for business but she doesn’t necessarily want to get married. They fall in lust. He wants her but so far he’s been avoiding ladies like plague so he hardly knows what hit him. He ruins her reputation but not because he wanted to, as she thinks. She shots him. They marry. They fall in love. She learns about his by-blow. He is afraid he might lose her but it might be far more complicated than that. Will they stay together? Yes, they will. End of the story.
What I liked:
Overall I hate romances as a genre but I admit there are exceptions. Loretta Chase’s book is one of them. Why? First of all this author uses thorough characterization which always in my eyes constitutes a redeeming quality.You would think other romance writers should know it as well. Well, most of them don’t. Chase knows how to construct characters who break the standard romance novel stereotype which is another big advantage.
For example in this one you are presented the title Lord of Scoundrels not only as a ready-made, brutal rake extraordinaire but also as a lonely, rejected, ugly child who had to fight his way into other people’s hearts. A child who had to learn early how to mask his fear and weaknesses with brutality, laughter and disdain. Such a well-thought-out background, even if a bit simplistic and also a bit spurious, makes you warm even to a cold-blooded scoundrel, in other words a prime jackass material. You see, he’s been traumatized so you kind of understand Dain’s sexist, obstinate view of women. Somebody has to be blamed.
Our heroine, Jessica Trent, is prepared very well to take control and tame the ‘Beast’ – she comes from a big family and has dealt with unruly boys all her life (once again the background presented by the author helps us understanding how come a proper miss knew such deft methods).
In fact the story begins when Jessica has to intervene in order to save her stupid brother, Bertie, from a complete ruin. That nitwit has got himself deep into debts trying to emulate the lifestyle of his idol, Sebastian Ballister the Marquess of Dain, the title scoundrel. If Bertie sinks, he will drag down his sister as well so our intrepid girl decides to confront the source of her brother’s idiocy. I was thoroughly enchanted by Jessica’s refreshing and realistic acceptance of her attraction to Dain. These two quickly find a common tongue – their sparring is fun, with plenty of chemistry and sparks flying around. They are more than a match for each other and their sense of humour suited me perfectly. Just not to sound groundless let me quote one excerpt here:
With the world securely in order, Dain was able to devote the leisurely bath time to editing his mental dictionary. He removed his wife from the general category labeled “Females” and gave her a section of her own. He made a note that she didn’t find him revolting, and proposed several explanations: (a) bad eyesight and faulty hearing, (b)a defect in a portion of her otherwise sound intellect, (c) an inherited Trent eccentricity, or (d) an act of God. Since the Almighty had not done him a single act of kindness in at least twenty-five years, Dain thought it was about bloody time, but he thanked his Heavenly Father all the same, and promised to be as good as he was capable of being.”
Jess also provides a very nice definition of romance which suited me very well:
“In my dictionary, romance is not maudlin, treacly sentiment,” she said. “It is a curry, spiced with excitement and humor and a healthy dollop of cynicism.” She lowered her lashes. “I think you will eventually make a fine curry, Dain―with a few minor seasoning adjustments.”
To sum this section up the beauty of this story is that long after I’ve closed the book, I still could remember those small episodes and funny dialogues – describing them in more detail here would be spoiling the story – that just seem so real, a feature usually non-existent in other romance novels.
What I didn’t like:
I admit the plot, construction-wise, was so-so: predictable, artificially divided into two parts (before and after the marriage), with some unnecessary complications (the icon) and redundant characters like Charity Graves, the mother of Dain’s illegitimate son. However I grant it, there was one good twist: (spoiler, highlight to read or skip) the heroine shooting her love interest to get him cornered and force him to make the right decision was unexpected.
Some descriptions of sex scenes made me smirk or even laugh out loud and not for a good reason. I don’t know, maybe this book just aged badly (it was released in 1995) or maybe it’s just me but I found them inadvertently funny instead of steamy with sentences like these:
“He trailed his tongue over one sleek eyebrow” (oh goodness, you will get some furballs my dear tomcat!)  or“Yes, Kill me, Jess. Do it again.”
 Correct me if I am mistaken but I suppose you can die only once, unless you are James Bond…
I also admit that the use of a dialect (Phelps, one of Dain’s servant is responsible for it) sometimes made me to question my sanity and my own comprehension of the English languageHow would you understand such a beauty:
“Nuss give it to you when your ma run off, ‘n you was sick some’at fierce from it”
There were also several annoying repetition in the text – for example after reading it you know, intimately, how both characters smell because the author took pains to tell you so every chapter or two using always the same set of words. Considering how relatively short the story is, it’s not like I’d forget these details. A good edit could remove a lot of those repetitions or change them a bit so the narrative is more bearable.
Finally let me only register my profound surprise that such a whoring bastard like Sebastian Ballister the Marquess of Dain never caught any of these unpleasant diseases…
Final verdict:

It was a good read. Not earth shattering or steam-up-my-glasses but good. Still, all you, romance lovers, be warned: this praise comes from an unromantic girl. Lord of Scoundrels is a strange romance. It might not fit in your perception of the genre. It is also hardly a faultless book but those are rarities indeed.

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