Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Review: Scandal Wears Satin

Scandal Wears Satin
By Loretta Chase
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: June 26, 2012

Marcelline Noirot’s marriage to the Duke of Clevedon (Silk Is for Seduction) may have led to bliss for the happy couple, but it may mean disaster for the sisters’ plan to make Maison Noirot the premier dressmaking establishment in London. Lady Warford, mother of Lady Clara Fairfax, the beauty Clevedon was expected to wed, is a determined and powerful enemy, and her influence means that customers are fleeing at a rate that means not even Marcelline’s gorgeous gowns, Sophy’s ability to sell them, or Leonie’s financial wizardry may be enough to save their shop. When their prize customer, Lady Clara, is scandalously compromised and forced to accept the proposal of the villain who engineered the scene, the situation grows more desperate. As the wife of a bankrupt baron with questionable maternal antecedents, Clara won’t be wearing Noirot creations. Then, Lady Clara runs away, and Sophy’s concern for her safety as well as her patronage prompts her to devise a plan to rescue her, a plan that requires Sophy to work closely with Clara’s eldest brother, Harry Fairfax, Earl of Longmore.

Longmore is only too happy to accompany Sophy on her rescue mission. Not only is he genuinely concerned about his sister’s well-being and reputation, but he been steadily growing more fascinated with Sophy’s person and personality. In fact, it was his fascination with Sophy that led indirectly to Clara’s being compromised. It doesn’t seem to matter whether she’s being Sophy Noirot or employing one of her disguises as a maidservant, Cousin Gladys, or a fashionable impure, she has taken over his mind and his senses. The longer they plot together, the greater Longmore’s fascination, and soon he is the one in danger, in danger of losing his heart.

The second of Chase’s Dressmaker series is unadulterated delight. Sophy is an endearing mix of wisdom, charm, and unexpected vulnerability. Longmore is handsome, stubborn, and wonderfully heart-stealingly male. I adored both characters, and I adored them together. The secondary characters, especially the urchin Fenwick, add to delectation of the story, and the villain is perfectly punished for his offenses. The historical details should prove sufficient for the most demanding purists among romance readers with the descriptions of the dresses so textured and tactile that one can almost touch them. The humor, an expectation in a Chase book, is rich and varied, ranging from the subtleties of banter to laugh-out-loud physical comedy. I love lines like these:

All that manly beauty.

If only he had a brain.

No, better not. In the first place, brains in a man were inconvenient. In the second, and far more important, she didn’t have time for him or any man. She had a shop to rescue from Impending Doom.

Or these.

“She’s a woman,” Longmore said. “What does she need brains for?”

“For dealing with men who haven’t any,” Sophy said. “It isn’t easy.”

Although Scandal Wears Satin won’t replace Lord of Scoundrels, The Last Hellion, Mr. Impossible, and Lord Perfect as my favorite books by Loretta Chase, it is a totally satisfying read and will join a long list of LC keepers to be read and rejoiced over again and again. Now I wonder how long I have to wait to read Leonie’s story and to see Lady Clara find happiness.

This book can be considered a “romp”: a light fast-paced narrative usually in a comic mood. Are you a fan of romance romps? What are your favorite romps--Regency or otherwise?


quantum said...

Nice review Janga.
I'm hoping a kindle version will be available in the UK in time for the Goodreads discussion next month.

I do like romantic romps. I'm currently reading Debbie Macomber's 'The Forgetful Bride' which is making me smile a lot!

I must try one of Macomber's series, 'Cedar Cove' or 'Blossom Street' perhaps. Any thoughts on the best to start with?

Janga said...

Q, I hope the Chase is available in the UK soon. She is a never-miss author for me. Even her books that I have a quibble or two with are keepers.

Debbie Macomber is my antidepressant. LOL Her world is such a pleasant place to spend an hour or two. I'd start the Cedar Cove books at the beginning, 16 Lighthouse Road. I think you can begin anywhere with the Blossom Street books. A Turn in the Road (2011) is one of my favorites.