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?