Classic Romance Review: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

I've mentioned before that I didn't grow up reading romance. In my high school years, I spent most of my time reading horror and suspense. I don't think I even realized romance novels existed since my mom didn't read them. So I missed a lot of the 80s and 90s romance novels that people consider classics. So I've been trying to weave those into my reading life.

One that I kept seeing mentioned and recommended as one of the romance cannon was Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. I bought it a while back and it's been sitting there staring at me on my Kindle, so I finally decided to pick it up. I'm so glad I did.

 

First, here's the blurb:

They call him many names, but Angelic isn't one of them . . . 

Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain, is big, bad, and dangerous to know. No respectable woman would have anything to do with the "Bane and Blight of the Ballisters"—and he wants nothing to do with respectable women. He's determined to continue doing what he does best—sin and sin again—and all that's going swimmingly, thank you . . . until the day a shop door opens and she walks in.

She's too intelligent to fall for the worst man in the world . . . 

Jessica Trent is a determined young woman, and she's going to drag her imbecile brother off the road to ruin, no matter what it takes. If saving him—and with him, her family and future—means taking on the devil himself, she won't back down. The trouble is, the devil in question is so shockingly irresistible, and the person who needs the most saving is—herself!

 

So I loved this book for a lot of reasons, but one main aspect stood out the most for me. It's a common thing in romance-reader land to pick our favorites because the hero is so swoony. I know as a writer that the hero can make or break a book. If you don't love the hero I write, I'm toast. In the same vein, we're often more critical of the heroines. (Like a hero who acts like a jerk gets a pass if he's redeemed, but a heroine who acts like a jerk is often labeled a bitch. I had to be very aware of this in By the Hour because I have quite a jerk of a heroine to start.) There are all kinds of reasons and theories about this I'm sure, but I'm just pointing it out because in Lord of Scoundrels, I loved the book because of the heroine. 

Now, I'm not saying the hero wasn't worth swooning over. Sebastian/Dain was confident, commanding, angst-ridden, and devilish. He was also maddening because he was so damn stubborn, hard-headed, and high-handed. But that's why Jessica was such a fantastic heroine. She was having NONE OF IT. She did not cower or give in or take any of his crap. She gets pissed and doesn't just hold her own, but goes on the offensive often. In fact, she gets so mad that she (mild spoiler warning) shoots the hero. And not in a fit of rage but in a calculated act of payback. It was hilarious. In fact, I found myself laughing at many points in this book because she often handles him as if he's a petulant child. And he is just confounded by a) how this woman is treating him and b) why he can't seem to resist her. So there's a lot of that love/hate dynamic going on, which I love.

Also, one thing I adore about the old school historical romances is that they're in no rush. You often get a full story, including seeing some of the hero and/or heroine's childhood. So even though this book isn't longer than a normal book, you feel like you really know the characters and have spent a lifetime with them. You feel like you've gone on a real journey.

So if you're looking for a sexy read with a lot of laughs, witty banter, and a heroine who is someone you'd want to have a drink with, grab this one

Who's read this one? What did you think?

Two Binge-Worthy TV Shows Based on Books

It's that time of the week again--Friday! :) Normally, on Fridays I give you a Friday Read pick. But the last two weeks have required me to do things that involve intense concentration (going through copyedits, checking for typos, getting everything ready for By the Hour's release, etc.) So after hours of doing that, my brain can't face more printed words. So, I've been doing some TV binge watching in evenings to give myself a break. And I've found two totally binge-worthy shows to recommend. And bonus, they're both shows based on books!

First, is Big Little Lies on HBO. This series is based on a book by LIane Moriarty. I haven't read the book, but I was intrigued by the premise and the show had a great cast, so I gave it a try. I'm so glad I did. This show is dark and suspenseful, yet it's not hard to recognize people you may know in the characters. The perfectionistic mom who really is trying to hold it together. The couple that every one envies because they seem so in love, but no one really knows what the relationship is like in private. The single mom who's just trying to do best by her kid but has her own demons. So it's relatable in that way. And no character is purely "good" so everyone is very layered. 

What I liked best about the show is that it's a fully contained story in 7 episodes. You get a wrapped up ending and aren't committing to some ongoing series. I really enjoyed it and found the ending satisfying. I also liked that it's very focused on the female characters.

I'm not sure if you can get it regular streaming, but I assume it's on HBO streaming and you can get it on Amazon with a free HBO trial.


Next up is one I mentioned on Monday. I chose the new Netflix show Thirteen Reasons Why for my "watch" portion of April's Read and Watch Challenge. The premise of the show is a high school girl has committed suicide, but she left behind 13 cassette tapes where she narrates her reasons why. The tapes get sent to a certain list of people whom she picked to hear them. So the narrative jumps back and forth in time, showing you everyone before and the main character listening to the tapes in the present. There's a big element of suspense in the show because you don't know how everyone played into the suicide and Clay, the main character listening to the tapes, doesn't know what role he played and is bracing for hearing it on the tapes.

I started this week and am three episodes in, so I can't speak to the whole show yet. But what I can say is that so far, the show is really well done and very compelling. I read the book years ago, so I can't remember the details of the story, which is making this all new to me again. It's definitely one that when one episode ends, I immediately want to click "play next episode". Fair warning, I know this was a YA book but the show does have language and some brief nudity. it's a TV-MA rating, so be aware of that if you have kiddos around.

All right, that's what I've got for you this week. Hope you have a great weekend!

I'm a Double RITA Award Finalist!!!

Just popping in to share my good news. Today is the day romance writers wait by their phones with bated breath, hoping to get a call from the Romance Writers of America (RWA) because today is RITA call day. The RITA is the romance community's equivalent to an Oscar.

I was lucky enough to win one last year for NICE GIRLS DON'T RIDE and this year, I've had two books final!!!! I'm super excited. This never, ever gets old. I'm over the moon.

Off the Clock is a finalist for the Best Erotic Romance of 2016

and 

Wanderlust is a finalist for the Best Mid-Length Contemporary Romance of 2016

I'm so beyond thrilled. And the Wanderlust nomination is extra special to me because Wanderlust is the first romance I ever wrote. I wrote it before I had an agent or book deal, before I wrote Crash Into You (my debut novel) and it lived "under my bed" for years. When I revamped it and Berkley decided to put it out last year, I was so happy to finally see my first book baby out there. I never expected it to get a RITA nomination on top of that. :)

The awards will be given out in July at the RWA national conference so I'll keep you posted. But for now, go check all the finalists. If you're looking to add new books to your TBR pile, this is a great place to start. RITA finalists are judged by other romance writers and we're a picky bunch, so this is a good list to find your new favorite read. I know I'll be buying a bunch of these. :)

Happy reading!