Tag Archives: Loretta Chase

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Heroes and Heroines

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

Inspired by a commenter’s request, these are my favourite romance novel heroes and heroines, and I have a separate post for my couples. Ranking them would take too long, so I haven’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Favourite Heroes

Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron  – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie
Balogh, Mary Only Enchanting
Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year M/M clarification: Graham
Callihan, Kristen The Game Plan
Dare, Tessa Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Dare, Tessa A Week to Be Wicked
Enoch, Suzanne The Rake
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Temptation
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Kelly, Carla Libby’s London Merchant
Kelly, Carla The Surgeon’s Lady
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Lady Sophia’s Lover
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night – Top 5 Hero
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Tempt Me at Twilight  TWO REVIEWS
Kleypas, Lisa Smooth Talking Stranger
Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar
Linden, Caroline Blame It on Bath
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Milan, Courtney Unveiled – I’d marry him.
Milan, Courtney Unraveled FAVE
Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter  CLASSIC
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Zapata, Mariana Kulti 

My Favourite Heroines

Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrels  CLASSIC
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Heyer, Georgette Venetia
Jenkins, Beverly Indigo She’s amazing.
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Scandal in the Spring 
Kleypas, Lisa Mine till Midnight – I’d marry her.
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Milan, Courtney This Wicked Gift
Milan, Courtney The Countess Conspiracy
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette ScandalI want to be her.
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton 
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

Florand

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Couples

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

This list is my favourite romance novel couples and there is a separate one for my favourite heroes and heroines as individual characters. If I put them in order, I’d never get this list published, so they aren’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date novella  CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him
Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Dukes Prefer Blondes  – LOVE THEM
Cole, Kresley Dark Desires After Duska guilty pleasure THUNDER SEX™!
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Dare, Tessa Any Duchess Will Do
Duran, Meredith Fool Me Twice
Florand, Laura All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Kiss
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch – Top 5 romance and couple
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Heart Whoops! One of my least favourite couples.
Florand, Laura Chase Me
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Garwood, Julie The Gift – Old School
Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess
Kelly, Carla The Lady’s Companion
Kelly, Carla Marrying the Captain
Kennedy, Elle The Deal
Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm
Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of You
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Again the Magic
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Love in the Afternoon
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Lauren, Christina Dirty Rowdy Thing
Linden, Caroline One Night in London
Long, Julie Anne Like No Other Lover
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Long, Julie Anne A Notorious Countess Confesses 
MacLean, Sarah One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
McNaught, Judith Almost Heaven  OLD SCHOOL
Milan, Courtney The Duchess War
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  IF YOU READ ONLY ONE…
Parker, Lucy Act Like It
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Natural Born Charmer
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Reid, Penny Beauty and the Mustache
Spencer, LaVyrle Vows
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC
Willig, Lauren The Seduction of the Crimson Rose 

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

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So You Want to Read a (Historical, Contemporary, New Adult, Paranormal) Romance …

Alternatively: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

This recommendations list is gleaned from at least 80 authors and over 500 books.

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

Looking for something specific? Here’s a list of authors I’ve read enough to see thematic consistencies and it’s hard to go wrong with these writers:

Tessa Dare – FUN, bring your willing suspension of disbelief, on double-secret probation right now
Laura Florand – contemporary romances set in France, great intensity
Carla Kelly – lovely Regency romances, often military-themed
Lisa Kleypas  – the gold standard, also writes contemporaries
Julie Anne Long – extremely clever and funny
Courtney Milan – The very best currently publishing, one for the pantheon.
Julia Quinn – An excellent place to launch your reading. Start with The Bridgertons.

I lovehate Jennifer Ashley’s sincere romance mired in tortured heroes and overwrought plotting.

This list is an edited version of my Complete Reading List by Author. Reviewed books are linked.

Mallory, a frequent commenter, asked me to make a personal Top 5 list. I tried. I couldn’t do it.

CLASSICS

  1. Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous – historical
  2. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date  – new adult novella
  3. Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrelshistorical
  4. Gabaldon, Diana Outlanderhistorical
  5. Heyer, Georgette Venetia (Dameral/Venetia) – historical
  6. Jenkins, Beverly Indigo  – historical
  7. Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm old school, historical
  8. Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of Youhistorical
  9. Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter  – historical
  10. Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke – historical
  11. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter – historical novella
  12. Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  – historical
  13. Montgomery, L.M. The Blue Castle – historical now, but not when published
  14. Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton  Bridgerton Book 4 – historical
  15. Thorne, Sally The Hating Game – contemporary

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Romance Authors and Their Themes

The link in the author’s name will take you to either a summary of their catalogue or a relevant review.

Carla Kelly – People are inherently good and their kindness will surprise you.

Caroline Linden – Fortune favours the bold.

Cecilia Grant  – Live life on your own terms and be willing to accept the consequences.

Christina Lauren – Find someone with whom you can be your true self and who calls you on your bullshit.

Courtney Milan – Only you get to decide who you are. Fear is a waste of energy.

Jennifer Ashley – Love heals all wounds.

Julia Quinn – Marry your best friend.

Julie Anne Long – You must be willing to be emotionally vulnerable to find a true partner.

Kresley Cole – Misogynists need love, too, baby. He only hurts you because he loves you so.

Laura Florand – Sincere love gives you the courage and freedom to embrace your true self and someone else’s. You are braver than you know.

Lisa Kleypas – Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone.

Lorraine Heath – Damaged people finding strength in each other and themselves to persevere and succeed. B-list author.

Loretta Chase – Find someone who challenges you and life will never be dull.

Mary Balogh – Broken people finding someone to fit their pieces to and moving forward with their lives.

Tessa Dare – Life is an adventure! Be bold.

Suggestions are always welcome.

Links to reviews can also be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

 

 

 

The Dressmakers Series: Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase

Short Version: I adored the hero and heroine and can’t remember another time I liked both protagonists so much. The plot was very good, but not quite great, so read it for Clara and Oliver, their every moment together is a delight.

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Long Version: Looking forward to Clara’s book in Loretta Chase’s Dressmaker’s Series, I was not disappointed. You have to love it when it feels like a book was written with you in mind. Dukes Prefer Blondes featured a Nick and Nora Charles style courtship but, as it is a historical romance, in the Regency. Chase uses the narrative structure incredibly effectively to both maintain the brittle, consciously closed-off outward appearances of the main characters while still sharing their true feelings and the effect they have on one another. All books with an omniscient narrator can do this, but this genre really lends itself to it, and few novels have done it quite so well as Dukes Prefer Blondes.

Clara is beautiful and rich which is hard to feel sorry for, but she is also considered the top marital prize of her season and her time as a trophy is wearing on her. Men pursue and propose to her, but only for the potential notoriety of being the man who gains her acquiescence. They don’t really see her; they talk at Clara, not to her. She is “wrapped in cotton wool” and stifled in every attempt to assert, not even her independence, but her brainpower and energies in anything other than the most safe and stultifying activities. Her mother is very concerned about social status and any notion of womanhood which maintains it, so Clara is allowed to participate in charity work and her efforts bring her into contact with an impoverished young woman looking for her missing brother. When Clara needs someone to help her locate the boy, she is brought to barrister Oliver “Raven” Radford.

Having embraced a nickname originally intended as an insult, Raven is the cousin of a duke and the son of a younger son who made good practicing law. He’s not touched by scandal, but his family is, though they don’t care – at least not until he falls for Lady Clara. A man of searing intellect and deficient in tact, he is startled and fascinated by the goddess who has appeared before him and appears to have wits on par with her beauty, not that he will admit that out loud, although occasionally his powerful reaction to his magnificent equal overwhelms him long enough for some imprudent physical contact. Raven helps Clara out and she plagues him until he marries her. He knows they are a bad match on paper, as deeply as he may want her, but he cannot resist and she does not play fair. In the end, they find a surprising way forward and Clara gets the freedom she hoped for, but not in the form she expected.

The sub-plots about Raven’s contentious relationship with London’s underworld did not work as well for me as the love story, but as long as Raven and Clara were in the same room, I didn’t need anything else. Dukes Prefer Blondes had all the smart banter I love and managed to convey true depth of emotion without any flowery speeches and dramatic declarations which would make people trained not to express emotion uncomfortable.You want to read this book, you’ll want to re-read it, too. I have added Dukes Prefer Blondes to my streamlined recommendations list to make sure as many people know that as possible.

Also by Loretta Chase – I’ve read twelve of her books, but only reviewed two:
Lord of Scoundrels – CLASSIC!
Silk Is for Seduction

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on probation right now actually)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

-A-
Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Albert, Annabeth Save the Date (Randall/Hunter)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ann, Jewel E. When Life Happened (Gus/Parker)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Continue reading

Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase

The review is in verse for which I sincerely apologise. I was bored. Let’s pretend it never happened.

Venus_and_Mars

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The Dressmakers Series: Silk Is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

I signed up for a quarter Cannonball (13 books) with my online community, but I’ve completed it and I’m working on my half Cannonball (speaking of cannonballs, my behind is one), and, not wanting to let the 79 works I’ve read in this genre since February go to waste, I now return to Loretta Chase, who, while not my favourite romance novelist, is extremely reliable and entertaining. I’ve chosen Silk Is for Seduction because it’s about romance and fashion, specifically 1830s clothing which is particularly ridiculous. Look at what the fashionable wore under their clothing, and keep in mind that a shift, drawers, and more petticoats would be added, and that those things on her shoulders would be like wearing down pillows –

Once fully dressed, she might look like this:

Isn’t the thumbnail hideous? I dare you to click on it.

Have you stopped laughing yet?

Now, you would not know it to look at me, but I really like fashion, past and present. My interest in period clothing has led to the purchase of coffee table books, museum visits, and hours of trawling the internet for drawings, extant clothing, recreations (huge subculture), and I have a lovely memory of cooing through drawers of lace samples at the Victoria and Albert museum with the Dowager Julien. These efforts have resulted in a reasonably decent overview of 19th century dress styles by decade. My favourite era is the 1870s, famous for its bustles. Can you blame me? I mean, Sweet Fancy Moses, I nigh on swoon when I look at this kind of dress –

How could I not? It is all that is beautiful and good. So beautiful and good, that when it came to my wedding dress, I unconsciously chose this kind of style even though I hadn’t started learning about specific eras yet. To wit –

I know, I know the overskirt is too long! It mocks me in the photos. That is not a bustle, by the way, it is the aforementioned cannonball. These days, it’s an entire armory.

Loretta Chase’s Dressmakers Series features the three Noirot sisters who work as modistes. In contemporary language they would be couturiers, but since Frederick Worth hasn’t quite blazed his trail yet that term is not used. Marcelline, the oldest and the designer, is featured in the first book, Silk Is for Seduction; Sophy, the saleswoman, is featured in book two, Scandal Wears Satin; and Leonie, the money manager, will be the heroine of the third book, as yet unnamed, but let’s go with Velvet Is for Viscounts. They are “in trade”, but come from a shady upper class background. Their work requires them to rub shoulders and cultivate relationships with the aristocracy and wealthy gentry. They seek a young, beautiful aristocrat to dress and enhance their reputation and set their sights on Lady Clara Longmore who is the almost fiancée of the Duke of Clevedon. (His first name is given as Gervase, but in keeping with the era, he is referred to as anything other than “Clevedon” only once). Marcelline approaches His Grace in hopes of winning his lady’s patronage for her shop. From there, it all goes as one would expect from the genre. Poor Lady Clara, there are two books published so far and she gets a fuzzy lollipop in both. I hope Chase takes proper care of her in the next book.

The women’s clothing is an important element in historical romance novels. The men’s clothingalways skirts around any effeteness that would be consistent with the era and is plain and elegant. With main characters who are dressmakers, Chase spends a great deal more time than usual describing and talking about clothing. She either did a lot of research or is very good at making up words. Of particular enjoyment in both Marcelline and Sophy’s books is the acknowledgement of the extremely complicated nature of a woman’s toilette. Some romance authors simply ignore these details and with a quick pull of a few buttons the heroine is fully disrobed. Julia Quinn, who writes charming, funny, and mostly chaste novels, often has the heroine wearing ONLY the dress and it annoys me every time the hero unfastens a row of buttons and BOOM! she’s naked. I wear more cannonball management layers than that and it’s 2012. Any 19th century man trying to get to the good stuff would have to get through gloves, the dress, layers of petticoats, maybe crinolines, corset, drawers, shift, shoes, garters and hose, and possibly the “sleeve plumpers” seen above, plus any outerwear, bonnet or head covering, not to mention a potential Gordian knot of a coiffure (H/T Courtney Milan). These layers could have hooks, pins, myriad buttons, and/or lacings. It was like penetrating an Eastern Bloc bureaucracy to get all the way to the woman herself. Loretta Chase includes all these details and plays them for laughs and practicality. As fashion purveyors, the Noirot sisters’ clothing is especially complicated. Marcelline actually stops Clevedon from trying to undress her at one point because they simply don’t have time. Still, these are romance novels, so the men are very experienced and at some point the heroine can’t help but notice how adept he is with her assorted fastenings and adjustments.

Loretta Chase is one of the big names in romance for good reason. Lovely banter. Good at the smolder. Her Lord of Scoundrels is considered a classic of the genre and I’ve been working my way through her collection as my favourite writer, Lisa Kleypas, has moved on to writing exclusively hardcover contemporary romance. (It’s more profitable.) I will read “Velvet Is for Viscounts” when it comes out and until then I have books I return to again and again to re-read the “good bits” which sometimes means exactly what you think it does, and also really does not mean that at all.

Other reviews can be found on my list of books by author or The (Shameful) Tally 2014 which includes recommendations and author commentary.

Thank you Malin for recommending this book.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

I am including this review for one reason only. Look at him:

I know it’s discomfiting, but do it for me. Note the manly open shirt, the manly sheen on his chest, the manly Coty cologne advertisement feathered hair and sideburns. The insolence. The seduction. The riding crop. The smolder. It’s not the book I’m reviewing, but Lord of Scoundrels is by the same author, and its cover is boring and staid. How could it not be in comparison to this wheel of Gouda? Not that Lord Perfect isn’t completely acceptable, it’s just that Lord of Scoundrels is a classic. It has a much deserved Amazon rating of 4 1/2 stars after 284 reviews. If I am embracing the historial romance genre, this book needs to be included as one of the ultimate romance novels: larger than life characters, operatic kisses in the rain, a battle of wills and, most of all, fun. It is thisclosetocamp, probablycloser, and the result is a delicious wet kiss of a book.

Our hero, full name Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain, is 6’6″, black hair, black eyes, big nose, all man. Wealthy, arrogant, and clever, he meets his match in Jessica Trent, a pert, patient (she’ll need it), self-possessed spinster who has come to Paris to retrieve her gormless brother from the demi-monde Dain inhabits. He takes one look at Jessica and wants to lick her from head to toe. She takes one look at Dain and wants to rip all his clothes off. LET THE GAMES BEGIN! It’s beauty and the beast meets reformed rakes make the best husbands meets tortured hero, with a side of moustache twirling by minor characters trying to ruin everyone’s day. From Paris, the book moves to Dain’s ancestral home with machinations about a Russian icon and an illegitimate child, and an intense romance long on passion and blessedly short on maudlin.

Loretta Chase is, above all, an engaging and confident romance writer. She sets the scene deftly and excels at creating entertaining characters. If you like a touch of intrigue with your romance, she’s your gal. There will be chases, treasures and grand adventures. If you’re like me, you will revel in it despite the B story that does go on a bit. I find myself glossing over those parts hoping I don’t miss any major plot points. Truth be told, I can never tell if the subplot issue is with me (Why aren’t they kissing or bantering? When will they get back to the kissing and bantering? I DEMAND KISSING AND BANTERING!) or with the stories themselves, and I really don’t care.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.