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Scandal Wears Satin (Loretta Chase, Dressmakers #2)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
While I don’t think that this book is for everyone (not even everyone who normally likes historical romances), it’s well-written, excellently executed, and sparkles with both wit and a certain melodramatic flair (costumes, scandals, and runaways — oh my!). Chase has given us a strong, thoroughly independent female who’s ambitious and driven… about dressmaking, as well as a boring (initially classified as just plain stupid) male lead whose main interests are usually his own. They get into a series of hijinks, none of which I would have believed could seem at all interesting: rescuing a young felon/pickpocket and a young innocent sister from a disastrous marriage, and of course, a dressmaking shop on the brink of financial ruin, but yet, all of which I found thoroughly entertaining (almost addictively so).

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Don’t Tempt Me (Loretta Chase, Fallen Women #2)

0.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase
This is a bit of a fake-out. Calling a series of women fallen implies to me that they actually should be… fallen, and thus different and distinct from the youthful virgins and/or managing spinster virgins we so often get within the genre. Instead, this particular novel would probably be more enjoyable for a male, rather than a female, reader: Zoe, our heroine, is a girl who’s spent the last 12 years in a harem, being trained by experts in how to seduce a man… except, she’s still a virgin. Somehow, somewhere, someone’s fantasy is coming true. Too bad the book is riddled with every cliche you could possibly imagine about the “exotic east” and comes off as having stilted leads, coupled with an ungainly, impossible-to-believe setup, as well as second-act villains that don’t really make sense.

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Your Scandalous Ways (Loretta Chase, Fallen Women #1)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a book full of details: the art, the poetry by Byron (down to his inconsistent spelling style), the Italian, the politics around divorce, the fuller-than-full list of supporting characters. At its heart beats a well-drawn, but thoroughly unlikely pair of protagonists: a disgraced divorcee who now lives the life of a courtesan, and a spy-like man who wishes he could retire. Ultimately, they’re two people who are both prostitutes… one who’s turned to the life as a way to free herself from the hypocrisy of the London life she once led, and another who does everything (and sometimes, everyone) under the auspices of serving his country (though without the sometimes more formal recognition a soldier might receive). They are hardened cynics who battle with their wits and sexuality — not at all a story I expected to enjoy, but expertly done and often quite enthralling (and even surprising: a twist I wouldn’t have predicted, and an independent female who is TRULY independent).

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Silk is for Seduction (Loretta Chase, Dressmakers #1)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
There are some lovely details and characterization, not the least of which is a female protagonist who is ambitious, confident, determined, and very, very intelligent. The way she’s described she could almost be the male lead, which is kind of great! Also, there are some nice side plots and characters who are interesting and are allowed to act in sometimes surprising ways… but what ultimately weighs this novel down is a male protagonist who comes across as being a bit too easy to manipulate (where’s the fun in that?) and the overriding tension holding the main couple apart doesn’t feel like it’s novel-length sustainable. I still enjoyed it enough to finish it, but it’s certainly not at the top of my recommended list. (I have to add the caveat that if you like fashion, or regency-era fashion, you might still enjoy this… I found the details about dressmaking a little overwhelming, but someone who’s interested in that field might find those details intriguing.)

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Lord of Scoundrels (Loretta Chase)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a great example of animal-attraction/tyrant-male-is-tamed historical romance. I don’t always like the overly-dominant male hero (who, of course, has the tragic childhood backstory), but this was just one of those stories where you really get behind the characters. There’s a point at which a writer really has worked through and past the cliche to get to the heart of characters, and I think Chase really has achieved that here. You’ve got very strong willed protagonists fighting their attraction, a lot of meta-thinking-through from both main characters, and a couple of predictable plot twists, all wrapped in totally believable backstories, side characters, and historical details (oh, and lots of Italian…)
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