Loretta Chase books are very hit and miss for me. Silk is For Seduction was one of my favorite books of 2011. But while that book touched me emotionally –this book had the opposite effect. I felt very little while I was reading and walked away feeling lukewarm. I think it has a lot to with the hero.
This is book 4 in the Dressmakers series and you’ll remember Clara as the woman who was supposed to marry the hero in Silk is For Seduction. She is a sweet girl who the Noirot sisters took under their wing –and has blossomed with more flattering clothes and a mission to help less fortunate children. Though she has been bred to become a duchess, Clara has grown weary of the countless suitors who seem interested in nothing but her beauty.
Oliver Radford is a barrister who is known for his brilliance and his less than spectacular social skills. When a pauper child goes missing, Clara turns to him for help, and the two quickly remember a childhood memory where he once defended her honor. Despite his better judgement, Radford takes Clara’s case, and the two end up working together to find the little boy who has been absorbed into a criminal gang.
So here’s the interpersonal dynamic in a nutshell: Clara wants someone to recognize her intellect and let her step out of the stifling expectations placed on a lady. Radford does that… a little… between “joking” insults. He lets her help him hunt down the child in a bad part of town. He lets her get her hands dirty. And love was born.
This just didn’t do it for me. I know Radford is not supposed to be a likeable guy. But perhaps Chase did too good of a job here. He’s not awful. I didn’t hate him. I just found nothing attractive about him. I didn’t feel anything towards him at all. And that’s bad news for a romance hero. Radford and Clara banter throughout the book, but it’s not funny or endearing. At least not to me.
“You cannot manage even the simplest act of self-sufficiency.” He reached for the fastenings.
She pushed his hands away. “I am perfectly capable –”
“You obviously are not.” He tried again.
She jerked away. “Leave me alone.”
“You can’t –”
“You don’t know what I can or can’t do. Stop treating me like an idiot.”
“I did not say you were an idiot.”
“You say it constantly,” she said tightly. “In a hundred different ways.”
“I merely point out simple facts, which you seem unable to accept.”
“I’d like to see you accept them,” she said. “I’d like to see you try to live my life. You wouldn’t last twenty minutes.”
“Oh, no, such a trial it is to live in the lap of luxury, where one is endlessly petted and adored.”
“You haven’t the stamina to endure it,” she said. “You’d die of boredom in an hour.”
She goes on to cry and be sad and he says things like, “You’re hysterical. Don’t make me pour a bucket of water on your head.” And “Oh good, what I always wanted. An irrational female, bawling and stamping her foot, because she can’t have her own way.”
Maybe there is some hidden charm to his little digs. There must be, because Clara falls for him and it, indeed, comes to pass that he considers her smart. But I don’t find little barbs to be romantic or attractive.
On top of that, once these two really get together, the second half of the book was meh and predictable. I mean –spoiler alert– the title of the book is Dukes Prefer Blondes. What do YOU think is going to happen to Radford? Plus the plot with the bad guy coming after them… very anticlimactic.
I wish this were a better fit for me. It’s got some great reviews on Goodreads, so maybe the issue is mine. But I struggled to make it to the end of this one and it’s definitely not a favorite from this author.
*ARC provided by Avon
Click to purchase: Amazon
Dukes Prefer Blondes
by Loretta Chase
Release Date: December 29, 2015