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22 May 2006

Mr. Impossible (2005)

By Loretta Chase

From the author's website: "IMPOSSIBLE... Rupert Carsington, fourth son of the Earl of Hargate, is his aristocratic family's favorite disaster. He is irresistibly handsome, shockingly masculine, and irretrievably reckless, and wherever he goes, trouble follows. Still, Rupert's never met an entanglement - emotional or other - he couldn't escape. Until now. OUTRAGEOUS... Now he's in Egypt, stranded in the depths of Cairo's most infamous prison, and his only way out is accepting a beautiful widow's dangerous proposal. Scholar Daphne Pembroke wants him to rescue her brother, who's been kidnapped by a rival seeking a fabled treasure. Their partnership is strictly business: She'll provide the brains, he, the brawn. Simple enough in theory."

(Yes, I have a zillion proper works of literature to read, but I am on a mini holiday at my parents' farm, steadily working through a half dozen romances before returning to the serious stuff next month.)

Oh, FINALLY. Finally, a new romance author to add to my "read everything" list. The list was looking pretty anemic there for a while, as I was utterly and totally dissatisfied with the work of most romance writers. Loretta Chase, however, has reinvigorated the old stand-bys with new twists: a non-virginal, pushing-thirty heroine, no significant "GRAND MISUNDERSTANDINGS," and a hero who was sexy, capable, and just a little clueless.

Normally, the alpha tendencies of romance heroes makes them annoying know-it-alls who understand every rule of the game as they lead moron virgins through the motions of falling in love. Rupert, however, kept playing in my mind as a brawny Hugh Laurie in one of his various idiot roles (Wooster from "Jeeves and Wooster" or the Prince of Wales from "Blackadder III") - he felt something, like a nagging tickle, but he could not identify it as love until the finale. As a result, because he did not know enough about love to even try and resist it, he was not one of those insipid "cannot love again" types. He was simply having a good time and enjoying a thoroughly entertaining female until, one day, he could not live without her. Happy ending. Ah, how refreshing!

Daphne's only hang-up was that her stodgy older late husband had thought her a mite too demanding in the bedroom. Ha!! Rupert quickly remedied her of any shame in that department and they got it on like gangbusters. The breadth of her intelligence was a little overstated, but the overall effect was charming.

Various details about the actual historical bits were less entertaining than the male/female tension, which says quite a bit about my interest in the love story. When I want to skip past the history to get to the romance, the writer is doing a great job of propelling the relationship forward. The dialogue was quick, snappy, unconventional, and - in some places - laugh-out-loud funny.

On Thursday, when I found the novel's sequel, Lord Perfect (about Rupert's older brother), I bought it without hesitation. I will check out the first in the series, Miss Wonderful, as soon as I return to Madison. Finally, another romance writer whose work I can anticipate!

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