Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-210031-3
Historical Romance, 2012
Scandal Wears Satin has a plot that is carried over from Silk Is for Seduction, but there is enough background information to let readers who have not read the previous book to keep up with things. Then again, the plot of this story is so far-fetched at many instances, perhaps it’s best to just go with the flow and don’t care too much about what happened in the previous book.
Where we left off, Sophy Noirot’s elder sister has married the Duke of Clevedon. They are having a blast, but the Noirot business is suffering from the social backlash that resulted from this unorthodox coupling. Sophy and her sisters own and manage Maison Noirot, with a fierce determination to become the most sought-after modistes among the London Ton. They were almost there in the last book, but the thing is, Marcelline married the Duke of clevedon. According to Lady Warford, the man was in an “understanding” to marry her daughter Clara. When this book opens, Lady Warford is publicly boycotting Maison Noirot, and since she has considerable influence among the Ton when it comes to fads and trends, her boycott has spread among other ladies of the Ton. Maison Noirot is, as a result, hovering at the brink of bankruptcy.
But Sophy, the money-minded one among the sisters, has a plan, just like always. She will… Oops, whatever she is planning is interrupted when Clara gets herself compromised by a fortune hunter during a ball. Clara is one of Maison Noirot’s remaining customers, so her social ruination can only hasten Moison Noirot’s plunge into financial insolvency. After all, after she’s married to that fortune hunter, she won’t be spending lots of money buying pretty dresses anymore. Sophy decides that she has to do something to save Clara’s reputation.
Her unlikely ally is Harry Fairfax, Clara’s brother and the Earl of Longmore. He’s a playboy lummox who has been obsessed with Sophy, much to his own annoyance, but he’s willing to work with Sophy, whatever her plan is, because (a) he will get to help his sister and (b) he will get to stay real close to Sophy and do naughty things to her. But Clara once again throws a wrench into Sophy’s plans when she decides to run off to escape her impending wedding. And once Sophy and Longmore retrieves her, Sophy comes up with a Mission: Impossible style plan to put the fortune hunter out of the picture, a plan that surely even Jim Phelps will approve.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the plot of this story is best treated as a cool kind of outlandish nonsense. There are way too many coincidences and contrivances to disqualify this book from ever being mistaken for a serious and sober kind of authentic historical romance, but then again, Ms Chase does this outlandish thing with such an unapologetic sense of sass and verve that I can’t help but to go along with things and have fun in the progress. Really, the whole late third of the book, with all that intrigue, disguises, subterfuge, and covert whispering is over the top ridiculous and entertaining.
The main characters are adorable, but I can’t help thinking that they are pretty obvious retreads of the author’s previous couplings of the playboy lummox who doesn’t believe in love and the feisty, cunning, and beautiful virgin who turns out to be the only woman who can get under his skin and turn his world upside down. The author’s formula still works, but I can’t shrug off the feeling that I have come across better reincarnations of Longmore and Sophy in the author’s previous books. Still, Longmore has my undying devotion when he describes babies as “little squirmy pink things that howl” and I just adore how Sophy has no shame in using her brain and beauty to get the upper hand every time. These two are too funny when they are squabbling and trying not to show how much they are affected by the other person, and this story has one of the most hilarious “I don’t want to see you again! I… I… oh what the hell, get your clothes off before I tear them off you!” scenes I have ever come across.
So yes, in the end I have a great time reading Scandal Wears Satin, mostly because of the romance and the way the far-fetched plot can get so crazy that it becomes good. But I still feel that this story is a weaker retread of stories like Lord of Scoundrels and The Last Hellion. Just like those stories, this story boasts the same over the top bravado, the ridiculous oversexed lummox hero, and the heroine who is always in control most of the time. And, unfortunately for Scandal Wears Satin, those stories came out first, so this one will always be viewed as a weaker spin of the author’s formula. The formula still works – this book still works – but it’s like eating the same delicious dish for yet one more time. I feel that there is something lacking this time around. Or maybe it’s just that the novelty has worn off a bit. This story doesn’t feel as good as I’d like it to be.