This is one of our second opinion reviews. You can find Ana’s review here.
Tough-minded Jessica Trent’s sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And when Dain’s reciprocal passion places them in a scandalously compromising, and public, position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction …
LORD OF SCOUNDRELS
Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him … and then forcing him to salvage her reputation! Lord Dain can’t wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place — and in some amorous position, And if that means marriage, so be it! — though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remain aloof … and steel his heart to the sensuous, headstrong lady’s considerable charms.
This review can also be found on the Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog.
When I finished reading this book and went on Goodreads to see what others had thought of it, I was surprised. The four star ratings didn’t surprise me, the five star ratings did. As good as I felt after closing the book (or activating the screensaver on my Kindle) I didn’t think I’d just finished reading a five star book. I didn’t think I’d finished reading anything as close to such (im)perfection I expect from a five star book. I did think I finished reading an entertaining, character driven romance about two very irritating people who were a match made in heaven or hell depending on your belief system.
Lord Dain—don’t ask me to look and type out his full name, I beg of you—was the titular character in the book, a true Lord of Scoundrels. He’s not welcomed into polite society despite his breeding and he doesn’t aspire to spend his evenings with the genteel folk of the French capitol, he’d much rather spend his time in more pleasurable endeavours with the less than reputable Parisians. He has the money to do it, but the people he drags down with him don’t. That is how he trips to the greatest obstacle life has thrown at him yet, Lady Jessica Trent.
Despite being virginal, Jessica isn’t one of the vapid insipid ingénues that plague the world of historical romance. She’s determined to save her brother from ruin and she has the character to pull it off. Jessica is capable, shrewd, brazen to a point, and most of all self-assured. She doesn’t wait to be chased and wooed, she goes after what she wants. And she knows boys of all ages as the author points out, repeatedly. She’s also smart, but she isn’t all-knowing, but she faces head on all the challenges presented to her, including her husband.
That’s another part I liked about this book, that the romance didn’t end at the altar, but that it continued well into the marriage
After two novels, I finally figured out why I like Loretta Chase’s books as much as I do despite their obvious downfalls and dated modern attitudes shining through the writing. It’s because she creates complex and interesting characters and I have a soft spot for character driven stories. There are only so many ways to create interesting characters that fit into the strict society of old without turning them into boring cardboard cutouts most authors churn out.
Despite his rakish habits, it’s Dain who is the insecure ingénue. He’s deluded about his looks as unfashionable as they are and he’s deluded about his own worth and influence on others. He believes in the only power that hasn’t failed him in his life—money—but inside he’s a wounded puppy and an unloved child looking for someone to hold him while he cries.
“In any case, to hesitate in such a situation was to indicate doubt, or worse, weakness. To do so with a man was dangerous. To do so with a woman was fatal.”
The only problem I have with this beautiful characterisation is that if you’re the sort of person to skip prologues, you’ll never find a shred of sympathy for the man. The way he behaves may be understandable, but in so many ways it is also unforgivable. A better writer could have worked that horrible history within the main body of text without having to glue on an apologetic introduction to the horrors of growing up to be Lord Dain.
At the same time Jessica is the bold seducer who works within the society and makes the society work for her. She not only overcomes the period appropriate hindrances for her sex, but uses them in her favour. [Highlight to view spoiler: Yes, I’m talking about the shooting.]
As much as I loved incongruence between reality and his perception of himself, I think I would have loved the story more had Dain truly been hideous and had Jessica been less of a Beauty to her beast.
Although, I liked Lord of Scoundrels better than I did Captives of the Night I do think the latter had a better if under utilised story of the two. In essence Lord of Scoundrels is a straightforward story about two people meeting and working through a random series of obstacles before settling to live the rest of their lives together as a [highlight to view spoiler: blended] family.