Monday, December 28, 2015

REVIEW: "Dukes Prefer Blondes" by Loretta Chase

Dukes Prefer Blondes (The Dressmakers, #4)
(Dressmakers #4)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Victorian England

Avon -- Published on December 29, 2015
eARC, 384 pages
Read in December 2015
Received from Edelweiss


Class Differences, Brainy Hero, Scandalous Heroine, Witty Banter

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?

"To begin with, he was obnoxious."

I received a free copy of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Lady Clara finally gets her happy ending with Dukes Prefer Blondes, the conclusion to the Dressmakers series.  She is the beautiful daughter of an earl and the prize client of Maison Noiret.  She has had some scandals in the past, but they don't decrease the number of suitors vying for her hand.  Unfortunately, Clara is looking for someone who wants something more from life than marrying a man who only sees her beauty and money.  Oliver Radford is a barrister who is the cousin of a duke, but is part of the less than fashionable side of the family.  His intelligence has gained him prominence in the courtroom though his social skills have left him with a reputation of being obnoxious.  Oliver believes he is happy enough with his life yet can't escape the feeling of missing something.

These two had met during one childhood summer, but don't see each other again until Lady Clara reaches out to Oliver to help her find a friend's younger brother amongst a gang of criminals.  The search for Toby Coppy forces them to interact very often and the chemistry is electric.  There is also a great amount of respect for one another's intelligence which is especially important to Clara.  She has spent much of her life being pampered and sheltered to the point that she feels like she is suffocating.  Oliver doesn't treat her with kid gloves and seems to understand why she feels like she has to help find young Toby.  For her part, Clara's sharp tongue grabs Oliver's attention and he can't get her out of his head.

I have had a unique relationship with this series.  I adored the first book, but found the next two to be a disappointment.  So I was hesitant to dive back into this world especially since I had no idea what the author would do with Clara, a favorite side character.  But, I am happy to say that I found Dukes Prefer Blondes (horribly misleading title, btw) to be exactly the type of historical romance I expect from Loretta Chase.  Both main characters were complex, well-developed, and thought-provoking.  I loved the respect that they had for each other which was shown through their sarcasm-laced conversations that had me smiling like goofball in public.

The historical details were another aspect that made this book stand out to me.  Readers get to experience Oliver's work in the courtroom as well as the behind the scenes work.  There is also a great deal of time spent developing the darker sides of London including the Ragged Schools.  Much of the earlier scenes take place away from Mayfair and I could feel the desperation through the pages.  Loretta Chase also provides more details of dressmaking which has been a major part of this series.  The writing is impeccable and engrossing so I never felt like I was being lectured to, but I finished this book more aware of aspects of 1830s London than I was before.

The only reason that I am not giving this 5 stars is the fact that I felt like the action got bogged down towards the last third.  There was the big climactic action scene, but, besides that, it seemed like it was just a lot of talking around in circles.  I think this book could have benefited from just a bit more editing and refining of the plot.

Dukes Prefer Blondes gave Lady Clara the type of story I felt like she deserved.  It was sharply entertaining and supremely romantic.  It took some time to get through the story, but that is because I wanted to enjoy the details and the character development.  There is just something about Loretta Chase's writing that grabs me and doesn't let go until the satisfying ending.

"You’ve no notion how I live in the world you call a fantasy,” she went on in the same taut tone. “You’ve no idea what it’s like to spend your life wrapped in cotton wool, with all about you protecting you, mainly from yourself, because you don’t behave as they think a girl ought to do, and they believe something’s wrong with you. You don’t know what it’s like to watch your brothers go away to school and make new friends and have adventures you’ll never have, even vicariously, in books. You don’t know what it’s like to be scolded for reading too much and knowing too much – to be taught to hide your intelligence, because otherwise you’ll frighten the gentlemen away – to stifle your opinions, because ladies aren’t to have any opinions of their own, but must always defer to men.” She stamped her foot. “You know nothing about me. Nothing! Nothing!”
1. Silk is for Seduction
2. Scandal Wears Satin
3. Vixen in Velvet
4. Dukes Prefer Blondes

Goodreads -- Author Website

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  1. I just got this book from Avon and I'm excited to read it. I'm so glad to hear that you really liked it. Clara seems like such an amazing character.

  2. Oooh. I didn't know there was another book coming in this series. Pretty sure I'll have to read it now. :D


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