Sunday, November 2, 2008

Review: Lord of Scoundrels

Title: Lord of Scoundrels
Author: Loretta Chase
Genre: Historical Romance

I read this book months ago. I am not sure why or how I got away with not writing up a review, because this a a book I want to pimp to one and all.

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!

It is my opinion that Sebastian, Lord Dain, now has the title of most tortured hero in Romance. Like many heroes, he had a father who was distant and, quite frankly, hated him. After being subjected to enough hatred, he chose to embrace the image his father had of him. Deviltry and meanness became his coping device. Stuck in that cycle of bullying, he grew to become a man who valued little. He was rude, vice riddled. He flaunted conventions simply to gain a reaction. If he began to meet someone’s expectations (good or bad) he would take steps to ensure that they gained no satisfaction. It would take extraordinary circumstances and an extraordinary woman to effect a change. He had no interest in Jessica’s brother, Bertie, but her concern for the wastrel lit the fire of challenge in him. He wanted to see how far he could push her, if he could break her. It ended up being Sebastian, a bigger historical Alpha I have yet to read, who would break.

I find myself often saying that I like a heroine because she is strong and feisty. That she does not let the men in her life, no matter how Alpha, dictate the decisions she should make for her life. This is true. I can not abide a weak willed or TSTL heroine. There comes a point where I no longer feel she deserves the hero. The two should be a match for one another. Jessica Trent goes beyond my expectations for a heroine. Yes, she is strong and feisty, but she is more than that. Jessica is not just strong, she is the foundation. For her family, for her relationship. She provided the stability and security her loved ones needed, yet she did not allow herself to sacrifice who she was. Instead of sitting by as her brother ran them into bankruptcy, she found a way to use her talents to support them both, if not in the style he preferred. When she saw that Bertie’s association with Lord Dain was going to be detrimental to his life and her own, she did not simply tell her brother to stop and sit back wringing her hands. Oh no, she knew her fool of a brother would pay no heed, and walked right into the lion’s den. She knew her strengths and accepted her limitations. She acknowledged her attraction to Sebastian, but did not expect him to equate lust with love. Frankly, she knew he was a rake and wanted no part of it. Not that he gave her much of a choice (in the best possible way!)

It was heartbreaking to see Sebastian project his own self loathing onto his son later in the book. He was allowing his father, and his hurtful actions, to impact his ability to reach out to his own child. He was aware of this, yet was nearly unable to stop it from happening. Jessica, loving Sebastian wholly and completely, saw the young boy as the scared, hurt soul that truly was. That was not difficult for her since she saw shadows of that same child in Sebastian’s eyes every time she looked at him. His belief that he was not worthy of love, especially hers, was what took a nasty bastard of a character and made him into a redeemable hero.

This book was like a wonderful stew. Rich and satisfying, leaving you wanting just one more bowl despite the fact that you are full. The ingredients were well blended and hearty, yet peppered with just the right amount of seasoning. Lord of Scoundrels was peppered with just the perfect seasoning of secondary characters. Bertie, the brother you want to strangle. Jessica’s grandmother. Sebastian’s ridiculous cohorts. His former mistress and mother of his child. And that poor boy. Misunderstood, used as a pawn.

Things I loved: The scene in the rain up against the lamp post. Delicious! Jessica storming in like an avenging god and shooting Sebastian. Yes, our heroine shoots the hero. With a gun. Every time they argued, which happened all the time. The arguing was foreplay. Actually, their contentious relationship reminds me of another of my favorite H/h pairings: Sam and Jaine from Mr. Perfect. I would go so far as to say that if you like one of these books you will likely enjoy the other. The same intense chemistry, bickering foreplay. Magic, both of them.

Things I disliked: Um... I’m not sure there was anything. If I had to isolate one thing it was how blind Sebastian was towards his son. Here was a chance to make up for all the evil his father perpetrated on him throughout his life, and he could not see past the surface. True, the story gave us Sebastian journey to a place in his life, with Jessica’s love, that he could let go of the past enough to make room in his heart for his son. He was redeemed. So I guess this is not really something I disliked, since I can see the validity of this subplot.

This book is an absolute MUST READ for anyone who likes historical romance. I would go so far as the say it is a must read for an romance reader. Period. This is without a doubt on my list of Best Romances Written.


Margaret G said...

This book is one of my all-time favorite romance novels. It has permanent residence on my Keeper shelf and I've read it at least 4 times.
Loretta Chase's heroes and heroines are the greatest. The companion book to Lord of Scoundrels is The Last Hellion. Love it, also.

Many romance readers keep LOS on the list of top 25 favorite romance novels. I don't think it's any danger of losing status anytime soon.

Great review, Shannon.

Sayuri said...

Because I am new to romance and espec historical romance I am kinda scared to read this as it seems to be the gold standard. I don't think I am a fan of 'old-school' romance and what if I hate it. Everyone will stare and whisper....

'Look there goes the woman who doesn't like 'Lord Of Scoundrels..I heard she was insane...'

But you make it sound soooo good. I do have it here. Maybe I will give it a try!

Shannon said...

Margaret- I borrowed it from the library. It is def on my list of books I need to purchase for keeps. And then read over and over and over.

Sayuri- You have to read this book. I am not a fan of old school. I am the girl they stare at and whisper "What is wrong with her? How could she not like Whitney, My Love?" I really don't think of LOS as an old school romance. Sure, it was written a number of years ago, but it defies the stereotypes of the 80's old school historicals. The heroine is far to strong and independent. I just love it!

Carolyn Jean said...

Hey! Great review. I had a thing with the son, too, but I could see him rejecting the son as he rejects himself, or his former self, in a way,

Wasn't this just so great? It was actually the first historical I ever read. All downhill from there.

Kati said...

Terrific review! I'll admit, the first time I read LOS, I did not get at all what the big deal was. But a few years later, I picked it up again and read it more methodically. When I did, I found myself captivated by Jessica in particular. I know that many many readers adore Dain, and I liked him just fine. But for me, Jessica makes the story. The scene where she shoots Dain is among my favorite scenes ever in historical romance.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the story! I agree that it's a must read for every single romance reader.

Sayuri, I think you'll like it. I agree with CJ, you should give it a try.

Sarai said...

LOVED this book so glad you did too!!! Excellent review

JenB said...

I couldn't finish this one. The dialogue was nice and the characters were wonderful, but the narrative felt sludgy and ultra-formal.

What is wrong with me? I'm such a freak when it comes to books. o_O

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hiya,Shannon! I'm with you. Not only one of my faves, but one of the best of all time.

Now, if only Chase would write something with an historical handyman hero. You know the kind I like, Shannon.

Shannon said...

Ah, but Michelle, would they have had ceiling fans for him to fix back then? ;)

CJ- How has any other historical even been passable after that?

Kati- I think Jessica may be my favorite historical heroine of all times. She is just that great.

Oh, Jen, say it ain't so!!!

Saria- Just thinking about it makes me want to read the whole thing again.

Tracy said...

I have got to read this book!!! I know I keep saying that and then never read it but I really want to eventually. Really. I do.

Tracy said...

Ok - I broke down and ordered it from the library! lol

Shannon said...

Yay, Tracy! I can't wait to hear what you think of it.

Kristie (J) said...

This is a wonderful book isn't it? It's in my top all time 5 favourite list. It was 2, now it's 3 on the the list.
I can't tell you how many times I've read it. I read it not long after it first came out years ago and I'm just delighted that readers today are still finding, reading and loving Lord of Scoundrels.

Carolyn Jean said...

Hey, I have your Billy up!

Carolyn Jean said...

Oh, Shannon, to answer your question, certainly yes. The Spymaster's Lady, for one!

naida said...

Great review!
I read Your Scandalous Ways and really liked it. I need to read this one too.