Author: Loretta Chase
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Type: Novel in a Series
Provided by Publisher
Blurb: Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can’t see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax’s nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child is in trouble, she turns to tall, dark, and annoying barrister Oliver Radford.
Though he’s unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford’s never been part of fashionable society, and the blonde beauty, though not entirely bereft of brains, isn’t part of his plans. But Clara overwhelms even his infallible logic, and when wedlock looms, all he can do is try not to lose his head over her . . .
It’s an inconvenient marriage by ordinary standards, but these two are far from ordinary. Can the ton’s most adored heiress and London’s most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?
Review: Loretta Chase is an established historical romance writer, and I’ve loved her books. This one isn’t my favorite (that would be Lord of Scoundrels) but I did enjoy it quite a bit! The atmosphere is intoxicating, and the characters are always original and quite interesting to get to know and watch grow throughout the book. In fact, that’s usually the best part of her books–the character development. And this one was superb!
Lady Clara Fairfax met Oliver “Raven” Radford when she was not quite nine years old. He was fifteen and had come home with her brother Harry from Eton for the holidays. They were visiting Vauxhall for a fête and somehow, Raven ended up babysitting her. When his cousin Bernard, who’d made it his lifelong mission to hassle Raven, sprang out and started hitting him, Clara jumped onto his back and started whaling on him. The confusing scramble ended with Clara the proud owner of a chipped front tooth, forever marked by their first meeting. And that’s how he recognized her, years later on the streets of London.
Clara is quite different from most of the young ladies of her station in life. She wants to be valued for her intelligence, not her looks. She’s very interested in doing things and is frustrated by the encumbrances society places on her. When Bridget Coppy, one of the girls that is employed at the charity she currently patronizes, The Milliner’s society for the Education of indigent females, is concerned about her missing brother Toby and confides in Clara, she wants to help her. But “ladies” aren’t allowed to do much of anything–only men can. When Bridget’s concern about her brother causes her to get unwanted attention from the miscreants who ‘ve gotten him in their clutches, it becomes even more imperative that something be done. Luckily for them, Raven Radford is on the scene and already heavily engaged in battle with the groups who are causing harm to young Toby. With his help, they’re quickly able to find and return Toby to his sister as well as stop the thievery ring.
Raven Radford had grown up knowing that while he was part of an aristocratic family, the likelihood of ever being the Duke was slim. His innate intelligence and his odd looks as a young man had gotten him lots of ridicule from his titled relatives. His father George was a younger son of the Duke of Malvern, and had worked as a solicitor for many years, marrying late in life–unfortunately, to a divorced woman! Scandalous! But why not when you’re a younger son? Raven had attended all the correct “public” schools but had followed his father’s footsteps into the law, always assuming he would never be called upon. Even when he was helping Lady Clara, he was always aware of their differences–he was in trade, she was of the aristocracy. But what happens when you fall in love with a Lady?
It’s a little like watching Lady and the Tramp. You’ve got the guy who’s really from a good family but is firmly in the trades. You’ve got the wealthy aristocrat who’s longing for something more. Put them together and MAGIC! There are lots of things standing in their way, but hopefully, true love will win the course. And then, fate lends a hand and we see why being trained to be a Duchess might come in handy…
Chase mixes societal issues like ragged schools in with women’s rights and yet still nods in deference to the elegance of the age with her historical romances that bridge the gap between educating and entertaining. As always, a delicious read! Thanks!