Author: Loretta Chase
Genre: Historical (Regency England)
A blue-eyed innocent on the outside and a shark on the inside, dressmaker Sophy Noirot could sell sand to Bedouins. Selling Maison Noirot’s beautiful designs to aristocratic ladies is a little harder, especially since a recent family scandal has made an enemy of one of society’s fashion leaders. Turning scandal to the shop’s advantage requires every iota of Sophy’s skills, leaving her little patience for a big, reckless rake like the Earl of Longmore. The gorgeous lummox can’t keep more than one idea in his head at a time, and his idea is taking off all of Sophy’s clothes.
But when Longmore’s sister, Noirot’s wealthiest, favorite customer, runs away, Sophy can’t let him bumble after her on his own. In hot pursuit with the one man who tempts her beyond reason, she finds desire has never slipped on so smoothly . . .
Loretta Chase is usually one of my auto-buy authors. In fact, she’s been an auto-buy for me from the first book of hers I’ve read. I’ve enjoyed some books of hers more than others, certainly, but they usually all go on my “keeper” shelf of books I want to re-read. I love her that much.
And yet… This book was such a disappointment. It had the potential to be so much more, and in fact it would have been another keeper for me, if not for the hero.
I couldn’t stand the hero!
Longmore (or Harry), the heroine, and virtually every other character who ever has a thought about Longmore seems to think that he is lacking in the intelligence department. And this isn’t merely that we’d expect him to be a genius. Not at all. People (himself included!) think of him as an idiot.
So it seems I’ve found a tipping point for my hero likability. They can be ugly. They can have a multitude of flaws such as selfishness and arrogance and even make mistakes (i.e. they can be human). But apparently I can’t read a book where everyone–especially including the hero and heroine–think the hero is stupid. At one point Sophy even chides herself for being attracted to Longmore because of his extreme good looks even though he’s essentially a dimwit, which actually makes me like her less.
To be honest, even though Longmore continually thought of himself as stupid, I kept expecting there to be some sort of reveal toward the end of the book where he would admit that he wasn’t as stupid as he or anyone else thought–there were times when he didn’t act stupid at all–but that moment never came, and as a result my perception of him never changed.
I have no idea why Ms. Chase decided to write a hero like this, except perhaps for the challenge of doing so. It wasn’t as if he had some other especially remarkable qualities that would outweigh his stupidity (and arrogance, because there was plenty of that, too), and even at the very last page of the book, I still couldn’t fathom why Sophy had fallen in love with him.
This book, simply because of the hero’s stupidity, failed for me. Ms. Chase’s writing was superb, as always. I suppose I’ve just discovered that I need a hero to have at least some intelligence in order for me, as the reader, to fall in love with him.