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?