Friday, 6 August 2010

73: "Last Night's Scandal" by Loretta Chase

Publisher: Avon
Page count: 384 pages
Date begun: August 4th, 2010
Date finished: August 4th, 2010

The hero and heroine of Last Night's Scandal first met when she was 12 and he was 14, in Loretta Chase's Lord Perfect. Ten years have passed, and Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle, has spent as much time as possible in Egypt, excavating and discovering with Rupert and Daphne Carsington (from Mr. Impossible). Now he is back in London, and his melodramatic and over-emotional parents want him to go to Scotland to restore a family property that is rumoured to be haunted. Just the thought of the dark, dank climate of Scotland fills Lisle with dread, and he has no intention of going along with their plans - he just wants to return to Egypt as soon as possible.

Miss Olivia Carsington is one of the richest girls in London, and a favoured gossip topic as she constantly seems to be doing something dramatic and has broken countless engagements. She has faithfully corresponded with Lisle for the past decade, and is delighted to see him home again, but knows that Egypt comes first in his heart, and she needs to help him outwit his parents and return there. Extremely independent and adventurous, she knows that soon she will have to settle for being some lord's wife, and all the grand adventures and quests she dreamed of as a young girl will be beyond her. She comes up with a grand scheme to put Lisle back in his parents' good graces (they threaten to cut him off entirely) and have one last adventure before she must accept the strictures of society.

With two old widows for chaperons, a small army of servants, Olivia and Lisle go to Scotland to see if they can't restore the ruined castle, get to the bottom of the hauntings, and possibly find the buried family treasure. In the five years that passed since Olivia and Lisle last met, they have both changed, and Lisle is especially shocked to realize that the freckled redhead who beat him over the head with his sketchbook the first time they met is now a stunning beauty with a very appealing figure. Despite being pretty much opposites when it comes to personality, the two old friends find themselves very attracted to each other, and try as best they can to fight the sexual tension, while bickering and sparring and nearly driving each other mad.

Loretta Chase's previous novel, Don't Tempt Me, was a great disappointment to me. She is probably my favourite romance author of all time, only rivalled by Julia Quinn, and hence my expectations to her books are very high. Last year's novel did not in any way live up to them. So when I heard that she was returning to characters I had first read about and loved in Lord Perfect, I was very excited, and I'm relieved that this book was a lot more like her other classics.

Having mentally gone through my list of her novels, this is probably my sixth favourite, but that is only because she has written some truly amazing books before - compared to almost any other romance novelist, this is an amazing book. The book is funny, and seeing how the children she first depicted have grown into adults is very rewarding. Both characters know each other so well, and love each other as friends, but also exasperate each other deeply. To see the friendship develop into romantic love is great.

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