Monday, January 24, 2011

Your Scandalous Ways: Two Paws Up!

For me, today just seems like a perfect day to wallow in my rocking chair, covered with a blanket, beverage of choice close by, and a good book in hand.  One of the perfect ways to while away loong winter days.  Micah has taken to climbing up me to the back of the chair and sitting there, watching out the window, guard dog on duty.  She supervised as I finished reading Loretta Chase's Your Scandalous Ways today.

Although Micah can't read (although the way she studies over my shoulder, I swear she's picking it up), we both agree that this Chase book was the best thing I've read in a looong time.  I'm not sure how long it's been since I read one by this author, but I can promise it's been too long.  If I didn't have a library book to read and return on time, I'd be going on a Chase binge.

From the blurb:

James Cordier is all blue blood and entirely dangerous.  He's a master of disguise, a brilliant thief, a first-class lover -- all for King and Country -- and, by gad, he's so weary of it.  His last mission is to "acquire" a packet of incriminating letters from one notorious woman.  Then he can return to London and meet sweet-natured heiresses -- not adventuresses and fallen women.

Francesca Bonnard has weathered heartbreak, scorn, and scandal.  She's independent, happy, and definitely fallen; and she's learned that "gentlemen" are more trouble than they're worth.  She can also see that her wildly attractive new neighbor is bad news.

But as bad as James is, there are others far worse also searching for Francesca's letters.  And suddenly nothing is simple -- especially the nearly incendiary chemistry between the two most jaded, sinful souls in Europe.  And just as suddenly, risking everything may be worth the prize.

The setting, first off, kind of threw me -- it takes place in Venice, a city I've often dreamed of visiting.  I have a lot of dreams...  ;-)  Most of them expensive.  It's occurred to me that I have a lengthy bucket list of places I want to visit, and honestly that list keeps growing.  I've found that, in my reading, I've been paying more and more attention to setting and locale and to see if the author can do more than just use the setting as where a book takes place.  Since I've started taking more note, three books have come to mind of examples of how to add life into a book's setting: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas, Your Scandalous Ways by Chase, and another one that's asserting itself is Darkfever by KMM (I'm about a 1/3 through).  I'm hoping that list grows this year, because I seem to enjoy a book all that much more if I can sink my teeth into finding out more about the locale.  Not long after finishing those three particular books (ok, I'm not finished with DF, but I can still investigate Dublin -- Wikipedia's got all kinds of mad pics, dude!), I quickly hopped on the computer to do my own research into the cities each book took place in.  Call it a new hobby.

(ANYway, back on track, Amy -- Micah needs to go out and you obviously need to hit the decaf...)

Your Scandalous Ways features a heroine both controversial and memorable, in my opinion.  Francesca is a woman who knows what she wants, but it's taken her a while and quite a bit of pain to figure that out.  A divorcee in England, she was shunned by her own friends in England thanks to her less-than-honorable husband's influence, she fled her home country and has now found her niche in Venice.  She may be a harlot, but she's a proud one, and she owes nothing to any man now beyond what they pay her for.  Fortunately, we as the reader, don't see any of how she conducts her business.  But with Ms. Chase's awesome talent at creating situations, describing each detail in a scene down to the jewels on Francesca's throat, and spinning dialogue with an ease that just seems so natural and so musical, it's quite easy to see how La Bonnard has become the toast of the town.  But I wax on...

I loved Francesca and James's chemistry and the apparent fun they have in vexing each other, both in word and action.  James, of course, is a spy and cannot let Francesca get to know too much about him, but he can't help but feel an attraction to her like he's never felt before.  His initial plan is to play hard to get, and by doing that she'll HAVE to come to him.  This assignment is way too easy..or so he thought.  Not long after introducing himself, James is in way over his head and finds himself searching her out, never satisfied with the small chunks of time he allows himself with her.

Mistaken or mysterious identities is a trope that I shouldn't like because it often involves the characters lying, which I abhor.  But in Your Scandalous Ways, it works.  Both James and Francesca refrain from becoming fully invested in each other, but it's not long before their hearts enter the ring and emotions are on the line.   

Your Scandalous Ways is a book that I'll remember for a long time, and could quite easily become the rare keeper for me.  Yeah, the setting enticed me, and the storyline worked for me, but what was really magic was Loretta Chase's painting a picture for me of her characters and waving a wand with the words she uses in describing the scenes and the seamless dialogue.  Seriously -- bravo!  And Micah agrees.  :-D

A solid A read, all the way around.          



CindyS said...

Okay, now I'm curious. When Chase works for me she WORKS - Lord of Scoundrels and Mr. Impossible are keepers. But when she tanks it's a bloody mess I tell ya (and that's just for me - I saw in the Top 100 poll that titles of hers I thought were horrid were right up top on most ballots). Miss Wonderful bore me to tears and Lord Ruin with the kids just didn't work for me. But then I don't care for kids in my books. This one though sounds like it might be a nice little gem.

And it's in the TBR pile of course!


Amy said...

Cindy, I believe I have all of the Chase books you mentioned in my TBR too. LOL I'd started one a couple years ago and got away from it -- I think the hero was going to marry a neighbor girl, and he was a scientist or math whiz?