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22 May 2006

Lord Perfect (2006)

By Loretta Chase

From the author's website: "IDEAL... The heir to the Earl of Hargate, Benedict Carsington, Viscount Rathbourne, is the perfect aristocrat. Tall, dark, and handsome, he is known for his impeccable manners and good breeding. Benedict knows all the rules and has no trouble following them - until she enters his life. INFAMOUS... Bathsheba Wingate belongs to the rotten branch of the DeLucey family: a notorious lot of liars, frauds, and swindlers. Small wonder her husband's high-born family disowned him. Now widowed, she's determined to give her daughter a stable life and a proper upbringing. Nothing and no one will disrupt Bathsheba's plans - until he enters her life."

Could Loretta Chase do it again, thus cementing herself as a new favorite romance author? Yup. Fun, funny, engaging stuff. Aside from the shamefully smarmy cover, that is.

At first I despaired at the titular hero's tendency toward staunch, unbending rules, but I imagined him as a Mr. Darcy-style lover until he learned to loosen up and enjoin a little freedom. Luckily, he gave up most of that propriety at the first opportunity, making him a much funnier, accessible love interest.

Bathsheba dwelled a little too long of the woe-is-me aspect of her public scandal, but she too emerged from that self-centered obsession on the past in order to take full advantage of the tremendously male man who fancied her and engage in their quality, touching, breathy attraction. Oh, and she broke a romance law: she was neither a virgin nor previously married to an abusive or misunderstanding man. She married her first husband at the age of 16 and fully enjoyed him (emotionally and physically - gasp!) until his accidental death when she was 29. She was a 32-year-old heroine... with a (vaguely annoying) 12-year-old daughter! WFT?? So when Lord Perfect finally put it to her, she had previous experience against which she might compare his stature and performance! Unheard of!

I also enjoyed the humorous, supportive secondary characters that make up the Carsington family, particularly the parents. Their wizened amusement at their sons' exploits serves to put the whole escapade in perspective. Most romance novels focus so thoroughly on the main characters that they become a parody of self-importance. By including the sage, compassionate and wry voices of a few older family members, the adventure of Lord Perfect and Miss Scandal was put in its proper place: a love story just like any other love story, just like every generation before them. Again, refreshing!

While I more thoroughly enjoyed Rupert and Daphne's carefree banter and escapades in Mr. Impossible - primarily for the subject matter and the character dynamics - Loretta Chase proved to me that she is a new must-read author for my romance fixes.

Blogger Pacze Moj said...

I don't think I'd ever associate the phrase "must-read" with that book cover!

I guess the proverb holds...


Blogger carrie_lofty said...

It is a truly awful, awful cover, isn't it??


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