Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase

Title: Last Night's Scandal
Author: Loretta Chase
Published: July 2010 (Avon)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Summary: After surviving the perils of Egypt, Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle, is back in London, facing the most dire threat of all: his irrational family . . . and Miss Olivia Wingate-Carsington. A descendant of notorious—but very aristocratic—swindlers, the delectable redhead has the ability to completely unhinge him and a long history of dragging him into her scandalous schemes.

Olivia may be Society's darling, but she's aware a respectable future looms menacingly. And so when Lisle is forced to go on a family mission, she sees this as the perfect chance for one last adventure—even if it is with the one man in the world she can't wrap around her finger. But really, she only wants to help . . .

Which is why Lisle and Olivia find themselves in a gloomy Scottish castle inhabited by spiteful ghosts and craven murderers . . . and a shocking secret: the greatest peril of all may be burning within their own stubborn hearts.

My Review: Lisle and Olivia first appear as children in Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase, which I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed. When I discovered that these two had their own book, I obviously needed to read it immediately. Which I did, through car rides, bad concerts (well, only one concert, really), and numerous distractions, courtesy of my much beloved little sister. How did I like the book? Well, it didn't quite live up to my expectations, but it didn't disappoint, either. I really liked it.

First of all, I would like to talk about the characters. While you do not by any means have to read Lord Perfect first, I would recommend it. I loved getting a look at their personalities there because it made me appreciate them in this book so much more. They stayed true to the personalities established in the first book, while still developing over the decade that passed between the two. Olivia was such an original, quirky, and lovable character. I have seen such characters attempted before, but she is the only one that actually seemed natural and genuine, as if she were a person I could have run into at the supermarket rather than a figment of an author's imagination. As for Lisle, he was slightly less original, I suppose, but no less wonderful. I always adore the logical hero, and Lisle was, nearly to a fault. But it worked for him. It was endearing, really, and it balanced with Olivia's wild and impulsive personality perfectly. Oh, and a review of this book would not be complete without mentioning their chaperons. The two older women were bawdy and inappropriate and altogether hilarious; I always laughed when there was a scene with them.

I adored how the romance between Lisle and Olivia built and developed. It was a very natural progression for them. Their struggles were original and more fitting for their situation than the typical denial-of-feelings method. It is actually rather difficult to describe without giving it away, so I will simply say that the obstacles to their relationship were realistic and fit them well.

As for the story, I am always a fan of road trips (and the Regency equivalent), so I enjoyed that segment. Once they actually arrived at the castle, I expected not to care as much about the story, honestly. I am not a huge fan of "haunted castle" storylines. This one was well done, however, especially since the castle was not actually haunted. You actually get sections from the mischief-makers' POV, so there is never any question as to whether the culprits are human or ghost. Speaking of these scenes, there were a few too many for my taste, but they were not terribly long or unnecessary, which can easily happen when including a crime-centric plot thread.

My one real complaint is that that it seemed there was going to be a romance blooming between two of the secondary characters. There was foreshadowing and even a scene from the viewpoint of one of the two detailing an interaction between them. But...that was it. The story left off with no mention of anything related to them. Perhaps Chase is planning on writing them their own novel(la)? If so, I would certainly read it. They had such promise!

While this was not my favorite Chase (well, obviously, as it would take a truly outstanding read to surpass Lord of Scoundrels), I did enjoy it very much. I laughed several times, and Chase's writing style always makes for a great read. She never fails to amaze me with the freshness of her style.

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