19 August 2012

Lord of Scoundrels

From Goodreads:
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!

First Loretta Chase novel - definitely not my last.

Great dialogue. It snaps back and forth between Jessica and Dain. They poke at each other gingerly at first, then throw serious barbs at one another, and at the very end, when they've completely worn down each others' defenses, converse honestly together. The two best conversations are at the cafe near the beginning and at the wresting match about 2/3 or so in.

Having read The Duke And I, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, and Confessions From an Arranged Marriage, I can see how the "very damaged by his nobleman father" is a subset of hero. But where Simon, Ian, and Blake are quite overtly handsome (which goes a good ways in covering a stutter (Simon), Asperger's (Ian), and dyslexia (Blake) before the heroines set to teaching them about trust and love), Dain is saddled with both outsized Italian features (in pasty Norman/Saxon England with the Italian temper to match) and a mother who ran off to the West Indies with a local (consequently leaving his opinion of her - and women in general - at the mercy of his angry father and bullying classmates). As we would say in modern terms, Dain has trust issues and self-image problems.

Jessica is a great heroine although, IMO, she's a little too perfect. She's presented almost without faults. She supports herself. She isn't missish and demands her own pleasure. She comes to the rescue of her feckless, brainless brother. She loves her unconventional granny.  She has an uncanny knack for unearthing overlooked antiques. She's nannied ten boys (this is frequently mentioned) and so is used to managing recalcitrant males. She can fence and ride and enjoys wresting matches. She's smart. She's also a crack shot, aptly demonstrated in the book. And she's gorgeous. So hoyden, mother, and sexpot rolled into one. It doesn't make her unreadable just...well, a lesser being just wouldn't do for Dain and his past. So too perfect is just right in this instance.

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