Davina D.'s Reviews > Lord of Scoundrels

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
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's review
Apr 10, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: violent-heroines, historical-romance, 2009-reads, ok-reads, romance
Read in December, 2009

With numerous 5 star ratings, this novel has been called a classic, the best romance book EVER and unputdownable. It's recommended on the Amazon Romance forum every single time I visit there and graces the all time Favourites list of many readers. So wildly acclaimed among the readership this novel is that it can come as no surprise that I had great expectations for this book.

Well, I wouldn't go as far as to say I disliked the book, but I didn't like it either. This is my second Chase novel -- my first being Mr. Impossible -- and it's obvious to me that Chase is a wordsmith of the highest calibre. She can write, and with a witticism I, as a fledgling writer, can only aspire to. However, I definitely see a pattern in Chase's style that is starting to disturb my enjoyment of her work and as a result this made Lord of Scoundrels only a 2 star read for me.

A few of the issues I had with LoS:

1) I hate when violence perpetrated by females are lauded as a right course of action as well as being cute.

In LoS, the heroine perpetrated a very serious act of violence against the hero. I'm not talking about a little punch or slap, she severely injured him, paralyzing him and causing him to become sick with an illness that took him 4 days to recover from. Think if the hero had done this to the heroine? I can not imagine this book would be as popular as it is.

Moreover, it's not only the heroine's violence toward the hero that I found appalling. She seems to be a very violent person overall. For eg, when a certain incident took place at her home, some amount of violence may have been necessary to get the situation under control, but even after that was accomplished she continued to use brutal, excessive force causing great bodily harm to the person involved. What's worse, this was a situation in which the heroine knew her assailant was not at liberty to retaliate so she completely took advantage.

Violence is violence no matter by whose hand it occurs. Often times in both fiction and the real world female-on-male violence is construed to be amusing, cute and justifiable. Perhaps I've lost my sense of humour, but I just don't get the joke.

2) Another issue that rubbed me the wrong way about this book is the author's apparent penchant for patronising her readers. The females in both Chase stories I've read so far are always smarter than everyone around them: male, female, whatever. The males are portrayed as complete nitwits who need the heroine (or any other woman would pretty much do) around to tell them how to function.

I also picked up on this disparity while reading Mr. Impossible, but it wasn't as pronounced. Perhaps because that book was set in Egypt and Chase focused all her energies on portraying that country's people and their culture as inferior and backward. So she probably ran out of space to tell us how dumb all the principal men were.

I love a strong and resourceful heroine just as much as the next reader, but as number of other reviewers pointed out, don't go overboard with it. Jessica was a bit too perfect for my taste. I liked her because of her hands-on, spunky attitude. She didn't mother or spoon-feed Dain out of his mistrust for women and I really appreciated that about her character, but she also annoyed me because I found her to be self-righteous and arrogant on occasions when it was not necessary. She was a good character, but too much so.

There's no need to go overboard with the intelligence of a female character just because you're catering to a predominantly female audience. There's no need to make every male character dumb as sticks in an effort to portray women as inherently smarter than men. Some women are smarter than some men and vice versa. Certainly its not inappropriate to have some dumb (male) characters in a story (hey we're surely not short of them in real life), but all the time? And why are females given a pass when they behave badly? For eg, it seemed obvious to me that Chase wanted us to feel sympathy for Charity Graves, but we weren't allowed to cut Dain the same slack? Sure, back in those days women had it rough, but Charity did some pretty horrible things. I don't care how badly women had it back then. That shouldn't excuse wicked, malicious behaviour that cause others to suffer, especially an innocent child.

3) Given what he'd gone through as a child, being teased about his overall appearance and his unsuccessful relations with women whose company he didn't have to pay for, I thought Dain's behaviour as an adult was quite plausible and he was a very sympathetic character until Jessica came into the picture. To me, his character did a complete 180 -- from a strong, self-possessed man who certainly fought with his inner demons but still commanded respect to someone I could barely recognise. He became this snivelling, deferential male who often made excuses for the heroine's bad behaviour even when she was wrong (for eg when she harmed him). He, at times, came across as a man who didn't have his own mind, at least not when Jessica was around. He wasn't an alpha male at all. We were told that he was, it was referenced to, but we never saw it in action. Jessica pretty much led him around like a puppet on a string. I'm not saying he had to be this domineering jerk (not all alphas are domineering jerks!), but for a guy who has such a remarkable reputation of being a total bada--, he was very malleable. Indeed, where was THE Lord of Scoundrels? Not a very convincing portrayal of a supposed alpha male, if you ask me.

Pretty much the only scenes I really loved in this story were those with Dain and his son. The kissing scene with Dain & Jessica was also very well done. Overall, I thought both Dain's and Jessica's characters were fairly well developed, and Chase has an unquestionable talent for writing, but the story itself lacked a certain magic to make it as wonderful for me as it was for others. The potential was certainly there, but Chase dropped the ball somewhere along the line.

Lord of Scoundrels is no Flowers from the Storm, another reformed-rake historical by Laura Kinsale. In this book you see a true battle of wills between two very strong personalities. The hero in FFTS had his share of faults and knew it, but he was in no hurry to change. It took TIME for the heroine to show him the error of his ways. He didn't make it as easy for her as Dain did for Jessica even though he loved her. While others may disagree, I think that's a more realistic, human portrayal of two people falling in love. And that's why its one of my favourite books of all time. Loving Chase's writing style so much, I had hoped Lord of Scoundrels would earn a place on my keeper shelf right next to FFTS, but unfortunately it was not to be.

I think its a highly overrated book and in fact, I prefer Mr. Impossible to this one. I'll continue to seek out Chase's work because I enjoy her style, but if her novels continue down the same path she will lose my patronage. I can overlook and suspend my belief on many things in fiction, but when it comes to certain issues its hard to keep my personal ideals out of it.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Carrie (new) - added it

Carrie I tried to read this a year or two ago because of the unending praise for the book, but I couldn't finish it. I thought it was mostly because I don't enjoy many historical romances, but maybe there's more to it than that. At any rate, i know I've never been tempted to try again, or to read anything else by this author. I have so many books on my to-read list, I don't worry aobut the ones I can't get into! ;-)

Davina D. Good choice, Carrie!

This book wasn't bad, but like you said if you have something else you'd rather read, do.

message 3: by Madu (new) - rated it 1 star

Madu I couldn't finish it, either...and I love historical romances...I was looking forward to it because of the great reviews it had, but I was so disappointed...For me, it seemed too long and the action was not good enough

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