July 15, 2011
If ever the devil was born,
Without a pair of horns
It was you, Jezebel, it was you.
If ever an angel fell, Jezebel, It was you.
Jezebel, it was you.
If ever a pair of eyes, Promised paradise.
Deceiving me, grieving me, Leavin' me blue.
Jezebel, it was you.
If ever the devil's plan,
Was made to torment man,
It was you -"
Well, not necessarily Jezebel, but let me introduce you to the charismatic Noirot sisters. Three spellbinding sisters from Loretta Chase's new Dressmakers series. The first book in the series is Silk is for Seduction and it is the eldest sister, Marcelline, who takes center stage. And, there may be spoiler's ahead, depending on your definition.
Loretta Chase, Loretta Chase, Loretta Chase! I'm always excited when she has a book that is about to be published and I've been looking forward to this one for almost a year. I love the characters she creates in her stories. Her books are usually full of wonderful dialog, terrific antagonistic love relationships filled with snappy exchanges and sensual tension. And, this book has that - just not as much as I was hoping for.
Let's begin with Marcelline, the heroine. She's one of those women! All you women out there know what I'm talking about. I even bet all of you know one or two of these individuals; maybe one of them is even your friend. You can recognize her right away. She's the one all the guys are swarming around...the one they are wiping the drool off their chin over, tripping over their big feet just to be close to her. If she's your friend (usually they don't have many women friends) she's the one who is always asked to dance while you sit there twiddling your thumbs. There is just something about them that attracts men...like bees to honey, like a duck to water, like iron to a magnet, like flies to a carcass. You get the idea. Well, say hello to Marcelline. She is very much aware that she is the reason men drool. She is a take no-prisoners Chase heroine. She's smart, she's strong, she's witty, she's beautiful, she's all of these things. But, she also has a down side, she uses people, she connives, she conspires and she doesn't seem to have many scruples. Marcelline is also a working girl, no, not the kind of working girl who walks the streets. The Noirot sisters own a dressmaking shop and that shop is Marcelline's obsession. Her aspirations are to make women beautiful and she has cast her eyes on Lady Clara Fairfax to gain entrance into the world of the haut monde. Once this is done, everyone who is anyone will be clamoring for her gowns. Now, Lady Clara Fairfax is the almost fiancee of the Duke of Clevedon. So, because she cannot introduce herself to Clara, Marcelline insinuates herself into Clevedon's field of vision. When this happens everything changes for these three people (and anyone else standing in the periphery.)
Enter Gervase, Duke of Clevedon. Can you say cad, bounder, lout...stinker? Yes siree bob, he's a stinker! Loretta Chase has finally created a hero I had a hard time liking, even if he was witty. This guy just drifts through life, acquiring things, with no particular goal in mind - just because he's a Duke. He knows he will need to get married someday and to his best friend (Lady Clara). But hey, what's the rush! First there are things to do, money to waste, wine to consume, women to do the hump-n-bump with. So what if his best friend Lady Clara is getting hurt in the process? Wait a minute! Who is that gorgeous creature across the way? He must have her! He must bed her! Nothing must get in his way! He is obsessed! He can't control his lust and neither can the woman, Marcelline (cause he's one hot stinker). They must see each other. They must resist. We can't do this. I must possess you. Somewhere along the way this all consuming lust turns into love, but I must have been asleep because I missed that moment.
And, then there is Lady Clara. Now, mind you Lady Clara is only a secondary character, but she was the nicest person in this book. I cheered her on when she quit being a doormat and gave Clevedon a tongue-lashing he so richly deserved. What a wonderful scene that was! Speaking of which, there was another scene that was very disturbing to me. However, it was written so well that I felt the tension of the characters right down to my little toes. Watch for the scene in which Lady Clara, Clevedon and Marcelline are together in the dress shop. There is all of this tense undercurrent of deviousness between Clevedon and Marcelline. All the time Lady Clara is aware that something is going on, but she can't quite figure it out. It was very painful to read, but it was a great piece of gifted writing. And, by the way Ms. Chase, Clara deserves a hero!
We are also introduced to Marcelline's two sisters, Marcelline's six year old daughter (going on nine) and Clara's brother...all of whom should show up again in the next book in the series. Anyway, there were things in this book I loved: the dialog was great and the bantering was still there. And there was some extraordinary disturbing writing. My biggest problem, at least in the beginning, was both Clevedon and Marcelline seemed to lack a conscience. There was a poignant, redeeming Clevedon moment at the end. But was it enough for me to like him? I'm still undecided about that. Would I recommend this book? You bet! But, it is a little darker than some of Ms. Chase's other books...so beware. And, as always, I am looking forward to the next in the series.
The song Jezebel was written by Wayne Shanklin.
Time/Place: 1830's England
Sensuality Rating: Hot