Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Review: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Yes, I finally read a romance novel! Thanks to everyone who commented with their recommendations. I chose LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase because many intelligent bloggers and readers have raved about it. So what did I think? The writing – especially of the amusing dialogue – elevates it considerably in my estimation, and yet, it embraces the tropes of the romance genre so exactly that I was able to predict its’ every move.

Meet Lord Dain, a man so notoriously bad, he’s not invited to high society functions despite his vast wealth. Instead, he hosts orgies, beds whores, and leads suckers to their ruin.

One of those suckers is the brother of Jessica Trent. She is a vision of loveliness, spunk, and shrewd moves, and when she comes in to save her brother from Lord Dain, she finds herself ensnared instead.

They meet in a Paris shop, where Jessica finds two diamonds in the rough: a dirty Madonna painting, which turns out to be a priceless Russian icon and of course Lord Dain, a scoundrel born and bred – just waiting for the love of a good woman to convince him of his worth…

Reading this, I was struck by the obvious fantasy wish fulfillment in the plot. Jessica’s character doesn’t change much during the novel – other than her lusty femme fatale side getting the chance to come out and play – because she’s awesomely kick-ass already. It’s Lord Dain that experiences all the growth as he works out his extreme daddy issues (and mommy issues) to go from being the Lord of Scoundrels to a Lord worthy of Jessica’s adoration. Such a plot is obvious catnip to women who think that their brand of loving can tame and transform the wildest of rogues (or get them to at least be considerate enough to put the toilet seat down).

Jessica and Dain do have some rather hilarious conversations as they try to one up each other during their “courtship”. Dain is someone who claims he’ll never get married…but I bet you can guess how that turns out.

As for the “naughty” bits, with the exception of a hot kissing in the rain sequence, the love scenes did little to make my heart race. Consummation of their mutual lust is a long time in coming because Dain is so BIG and MALE and he’s afraid of breaking someone as fragile as Jessica (which is why his whores have always been plump, buxom wenches – how considerate!).

All in all, a moderate success, but nothing that has me rushing out to stock my shelves with romances.

Here's a question for all you romance fans: Are all romances this predictable? I understand that the idea is for the hero/heroine to have a HEA, but are there some with say, love triangles, so at least there is a bit of suspense?

19 comments:

Meghan said...

Some of them are predictable - for me, that's why they're comfort reads. I know what's coming in the end, it's how they get there that matters. Sort of like vicariously experiencing falling in love again - something I don't plan to do in real life again so might as well get it in book form. =)

There are a few with less predictability. Love triangles happen, but most of the time you know who's going to win. The only one I can think of in which I genuinely didn't was A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore. I couldn't even decide who I wanted her to choose! I was surprised at how anxious the lack of a definite ending made me while I was reading - it definitely proved to me why I read these at least in part.

Lenore said...

Meghan - I know what you mean about vicariously experiencing falling in love again...but I think in this case, the hero was just too extreme for me to really get into their affair. I couldn't imagine myself even talking to this guy, let alone falling in love with him.

I LIKE being anxious when I read. Not much for comfort reads I guess!

Lisa S. said...

I think I was the first one to suggest LoS, so I'm glad that you at least sort of enjoyed it. :)

I would say that the main way that romance is predictable is that there is generally going to be a Happily Ever After of some type. You do know that the two leads are going to end up together. (When I've been reading Serious Gritty books or watching Serious Gritty news, reading a romance for awhile can be a nice boost.)

The journey there is the fun part, and yes, is often unpredictable. At least to me-- but I didn't find LoS predictable, other than that there would be the aforementioned HEA.

Reading back over the comments from your other post, there are a ton of great suggestions there. I hope you find an author you love there somewhere!

Lenore said...

Lisa - Thank you! It's definitely a good pick for non-romance readers I think, thanks to the witty dialogue, strong heroine, great writing and the icon subplot (which I really enjoyed).

It's not like I predicted everything that would happen (though as soon as I saw she was good with a pistol, I thought "I bet she shoots him at some point"), but Lord Dain's character arc went exactly as expected, as did the beats of the relationship. And I don't even read romances!

Book Chick City said...

Thanks for your review Lenore. I really enjoyed LoS and it did get me to read other books in the romance genre. I have now read quite a few and have found them all to be different with regards to plot and characters, but yeah they're all HEA, which I suppose makes them all ultimately predictable. But then its that predictability I want from romance books, just like I get other emotional responses from other genres, which you could say also have their predictabilities. I'm glad you tried out the genre, like me I didn't think I would like them, but they're really fun and a great respite from my usual fare of horror and urban fantasy. Maybe read a few more to get a real comparison before deciding against the genre altogether - that's what I did and my view changed completely :)   

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I think I hit the wall with these in college. I agree with Meghan that they would make good comfort reads. Nothing surprising. I really enjoyed the quality of writing in some of the historical ones and every very long while and again I am tempted to pick one up.

LM Preston said...

lol! Oh yeah, they are. The whole goal of the romance is to pine for someone, do the dance of attaction, then end up together.

bermudaonion said...

I read one romance last year and it was very predictable too. Your review and Dain's thoughtfulness made me laugh!

diaryofaneccentric said...

All of the ones I read in junior high were very predictable, which is part of the reason why I stopped reading them. Also, I think I was curious about the naughty bits, but even those get old after awhile. LOL Still, I can see how people could like them as comfort reads.

I think it's great that you gave one a try.

--Anna

carolsnotebook said...

I agree, romances are predictable, at least in the broad outline. It's the journey that may hold some surprises, but may not. If I'm reading a romance, I'm looking for a little predictability. I want to know there's going to be a happy ending.

Zibilee said...

I am glad you read this one!! I would have to say that for the most part, these types of books are pretty predictable, which is one of the reasons I don't read many of them. I think there are probably a few that would defy expectations, but I can't really recommend any that do. Funny story though: my mom read these types of books almost exclusively when I was small. She used to hide stacks and stacks of them in her closet, way in the back. When I finally came across them, the covers made me giggle. A lot of redheaded women in skimpy dresses being bent backward by men that look like Fabio. I think in the past few years the covers have gotten tamer, but I really have a lot of nostalgia for those old racy covers! I have tried to find a few of them at the used bookstores, and just can't seem to do it. It's like they were taken out of circulation sometime in the 90's!!

Kathleen said...

I've always shied away from romance novels. I did try one once. It was called Sweet Savage Love (I think) by Rosemary Rogers. I would like to give them a try again to see what I'd think. I'm with you though that I would prefer to read one that wasn't so predictable.

Steph Su said...

Hmm, I don't think I've ever come across a love triangle in a romance, so yeah, it's all about predictability and wish fulfillment. One that I really enjoyed recently was Sarah MacLean's Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. The protagonist was NOT a fragile, buxomous female who doesn't change throughout the story, and I really, really liked the two main characters!

Allisyn said...

Some are that predictable and some aren't. The ability to predict the stories and general plot points is what made me leave reading romances behind except for a few favorite authors.

Jacqueline C. said...

I guess it's hard for a book to not be predictable when an HEA is guaranteed.

Lord of Scoundrels was one of the earliest romances that I read. Like you, I enjoyed it but I didn't get what the big deal was. Right now, my favorite historical romance authors are Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas. Don't give up on romance just yet - you should try there books first.

Care said...

This was a fun post. I just might have to pick up LoS - sounds like a ride.

Sandy Shin said...

I have heard a lot of Lord of Scoundrels, and might pick up a copy from the library. The cliches you mentioned did make me flinch; however, I like romance, and if done well, predictability can be comfort reads.

Staci said...

Well, I'm glad that you tried one. I haven't read a "romance" like this in a long time. Probably because I'm over the hill and finally have realized that men just aren't like this in real life!! LOL!!

The Bumbles said...

I went through a big Harlequin phase in high school. I OD'd on it I suppose since I haven't read the specific romance genre in a while. But I do enjoy romance in my everyday fiction reads. And I am friendly with many romance authors in the blogosphere. It is fascinating to me - the formula and allure - but also the variety of genres within the genre if you will. If you want a different take - try Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy. Instead of "chick lit" I call it "stud lit." Romance from the guy's perspective. Very entertaining :0)