Saturday, 15 November 2014

Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

Silk is for Seduction (2012) (Harlequin)
Loretta Chase
Grade: A
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own
Dressmakers: (1) Silk is for Seduction
Romance RBC 2014: An Eurasian Historical 

Marcelline Noirot is the best modiste in the country – if not the World – London just doesn’t know it yet. With a modest shop on Fleet Street with her two younger sisters, the Noirots are the three daughters of Edward Noirot, of the disreputable branch of one of France’s noble families, and Catherine DeLucey, of England’s Dreadful DeLucey’s who together, cheated and swindled, lied and manipulated their way through whatever life threw at them. Their offspring are only slightly more honest, determined to see their humble dressmaker shop become the biggest and best in town. When they learn that the Duke of Clevedon is soon to be returning from Paris in order to marry, the sisters decide that this is their path to becoming London’s top dressmaker: they must dress the Duchess of Clevedon.

Marcelline sets off for Paris to ensnare the Duke – however, her methods don’t have quite the effect she intends. Clevedon is aware from the outset that this ambitious dressmaker has her eyes set on his future Duchess, Clara, who he’s been unofficially betrothed to all his life, but he can’t help the stab of lust and longing for this outrageous and daring woman who is too dangerous for her own good. Clevedon knows how to plan a seduction as skilfully as Marcelline can design and create a dress and as society gains word of their association, all Marcelline’s talents and her sisters’ quick thinking are needed if they’re going to save themselves from society’s censure … what neither expect is for their mutual longing to get in the way of Marcelline’s dressmaking and more importantly, Clevedon’s fiancée …

The Dressmakers’ is Loretta Chase’s (not so) new series, featuring three dressmaker sisters in London. Loretta Chase is one of my favourite authors for the way she combines witty dialogue, well-written characters and hilarious plots to create some fantastic romance novels. As proof of her skill, Lord of Scoundrels has made it to the top spot in AAR’s Top 100 Romances in five out of the six years it’s been running: 2000, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013 – not as easy feat. I’m not convinced I agree with the popular vote (it’s been almost five years since I read it, and I only read it once) but as an all-rounder, Loretta Chase knows how to please her readers.

I never know quite what to make of historical romances featuring class-differences relationships – and this series will have three of them! The trope is a popular one and I’ve enjoyed it in the past, but it still has never been one that has sat well with me, purely for practical reasons. I’m all for couples sticking their middle fingers up at the old-fashioned and rigid opinions of straight-laced society, but it’s difficult to conceive of it actually happening in practice. Even if the couple is perfectly matched and have no care in the world about what society thinks of them, the lower-ranked protagonist in society’s eyes (more commonly the woman, I’ve found) will still be snubbed, ridiculed and rejected by a good portion of society, unless some other miracle paves the way for her acceptance. Both Marcelline and Clevedon are well aware of what reactions will face them if they carry on pursuing their attraction, but love conquers all. The last chapter hinted at it, but I’m itching to see how society will react to its newest marriage.

Now that I’ve started again, I can’t get enough of Loretta Chase. I’ve read about 6 of her novels and she’s a firm favourite for her imaginative plots, brilliant dialogue and destined-for-each-other couples. She made Marcelline and Clevedon’s relationship work, despite my natural reservations and Marcelline is clearly a woman who is devoted to what she does. As I said, it’ll be interesting to see how Ms Chase manages to make this partnership work throughout the series.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.

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