Book Review

DocTurtle Returns to Finish Lord of Scoundrels

Title: Lord of Scoundrels
Author: Loretta Chase
Genre: Historical: European

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (ok, it was January, but online that’s, like, nine years ago or some shit), DocTurtle read and blogged about his romance exploration, a readerly tour of romance 101 directed by recommendations from the Bitchery. First he read Sex, Straight Up, because he dismissed the category genre in an offhand remark and I challenged him to put his reading where is snark is. He agreed, discovered the Power of Lurrrrrrve™, and went on to read Heyer’s An Infamous Army. Then, he picked up Lord of Scoundrels, the book that drags people into romance whether they like it or not.

And then, behold, there was a semester, and as a math professor, DocTurtle was a busy busy turtle. He comes bearing apologies and a new appreciation for romance.

Um…Remember me?

It’s been a long, long time since I last posted on this lovely blog.  In the time that’s passed since my last contribution, I’ve had time to pop in and read the posts Sarah’s left, occasionally browse the comments, chuckle to myself, but do little else.

Shortly after I began reading and blogging about Loretta Chase’s wonderful Lord of Scoundrels, the spring semester, a heavy one filled to bursting with several time-consuming courses, came crashing down on my head.  For the first time ever (and, I hope, the last time ever) I found myself teaching four different courses this past term.  Add to that various conference and seminars, a few research projects, and a handful of committee commitments, and you’ve got one hell of a busy mathematician.

Bitch mewl moan gripe whine…I don’t mean it as an excuse so much as an explanation.  I’ve offered my humble apologies to SB Sarah, and I hope she’s not given up on me.  I’ve not given up on her, and I’ve not given up on my promise to work my way through a few more romance novels, starting with Chase’s LoS.

So here we are.

 

Three days ago, with every trace of the most hellacious semester in memory brushed back into my past, I picked up Lord of Scoundrels again (I was about 200 pages into it before), and just hours ago I finished rereading it.

As I know you’re all aware…It.  Was.  Marvelous.

I’d read the first several (eleven, I think?) chapters by January, and I blogged to y’all about my take on several of them.  The journey through the last hundred and fifty pages was effortless.  Pshaw.

Ms. Chase made it easy.  The clever turns of phrase! the vivid metaphors! the sharp humor!

Lord Dain, on the pained look of virgin madonnas: “They look exceedingly ill-tempered.  I suppose it’s on account of being virgins—of experiencing all the unpleasantness of breeding and birthing and none of the jolly parts.”

Jessica, on Dain’s taste in women: “When Bertie told me how much you paid, I thought it was their services which were so horrifically expensive.  Now, however, I comprehend my error.  Obviously you pay by volume.”

And the insults, oh, the insults!  Henwit!  Baconbrain!  Ha’pennyworth of a chit!  Thickheaded ox!  Cocksure clodpole!  Yeah, I always loves me some alliteration.

Leaving aside her knack for dialogue, there’s Chase’s exceptional eye for imagery, and for setting a scene.  One can clearly see the lamppost against which Dain presses Jessica when they first kiss (a kiss lasting very nearly three pages).  One can nearly feel the slightly salty water filling the air that hangs over the moors surrounding the Ballister family home.  One can easily conjure up the candlelit tête-à-tête between the extortionists Charity Graves and Roland Vawtry.

None of this is to say that Chase’s work is all style and no substance.  Every element of the carefully-crafted plot is subtly connected with every other, and every single thing that happens in furtherance of the plot, every conversation, every confrontation, every connivance, is believable.  Dain and Jessica take turns in upping the ante on one another, calling each other’s bluffs with more bluffs, pulling aces from their sleeves until they’ve emptied out their shirts…but every move they make is the right move at the right time.

Jessica won’t give Dain the icon he desperately wants (though he can’t yet truly know why)?

Fine then, Dain will scandalize Jessica with a public disrobing.

Fine then, Jessica will have it known that the most roguish roué to ever stalk the Paris streets has fallen headlong for a well-bred spinster of thirty years.

Fine then, Dain will make love, in no uncertain terms, to said spinster in plain sight of several reliable witnesses.

Fine then, Jessica will shoot Dain, lest anyone think she’s bound to let her honor be besmirched.

Fine then, Dain will propose to marry Jessica in order to restore her honor for her.

Fine then, Jessica will accept his proposal, in order that she not be consigned to “a life of poverty and obscurity in a remote outpost of civilization.”

Fine then, neither of them will have to enjoy it.

Or will they?

The ensuing story of Dain’s redemption, and his son’s, is utterly engaging and told with perfect pace.  Character?  Check.  Scene?  Check.  Plot?  Check.  And all of it is beautifully bundled together with various maternal metaphors: bits of Jessica, Lucia, Charity Graves, and the Virgin Mary herself are blended together to tell a story that’s ultimately one about these several mothers and their respective sons.

I’m sure it will shock no one to hear me agree with the bulk of the Bitchery that this isn’t simply a good romance novel, it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  Brava, Ms. Chase!  Brava!

I have to offer my apologies to those of you who’ve delighted in my chapter-by-chapter posts from the planet Mars (read: the male half of the species) and find something lacking in this one-shot post, something…episodic and acerbic?  Episodic: I found it hard to put this book down long enough to jot down a blow-by-blow account that would make much sense.  Acerbic: there was far too little to snark in this book for me to make a meal out of what little silliness I could scrape together.

I guess the book was just too damned good.

If you’d like, I can repeat a few of the complaints I made while reading Kathleen O’Reilly’s Sex, Straight Up: I’m sorry, but “he smelled like Male” (italics not mine) and “he was a man-man” are still silly phrases.

If you’d like, perhaps the next title I tackle can be a lousier one?

My long, long absence notwithstanding, I truly am eager to continue my romantic journey, if y’all (and SB Sarah) will still have me.  The summer lies before me, offering many more hours for reading and reflecting.

So, my friends, what will it be?  Another regency?  Another contemporary category?  Paranormal?  [Gulp] NASCAR?  I’m all yours, I await your next request.

Thank you, Sir Turtle!

So: you interested in more hilarity from DocTurtle? If so, any books to suggest? Shall we hit him with McCarthy’s Flat Out Sexy since he gulped at the Nascar? Or perhaps a Harlequin NASCAR anthology?  What’s your thought?

And dude, is there anything LoS can’t do? I wonder if it makes breakfast.

 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ros says:

    I should like him to read ‘Temporary Doctor, Surprise Father’.

    Mainly because I can’t bring myself to do it and someone really should.

  2. 2
    natasha says:

    I think he should read Sherry Thomas’s Not quite a husband. I finished it a few days ago and it was really wonderful, I can’t praise it enough.

  3. 3
    wendy says:

    I want to say A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, but the Vorkosigans should be read in sequence. Try Patricia Briggs.

  4. 4
    Babs says:

    I like the “Flat Out Sexy” suggestion (since I just finished “Hard and Fast” which was even better.)

    “Goddess of the Hunt” might be a good suggestion also – the humor made it very very entertaining!

  5. 5
    Mads says:

    Aww what a great review. I loved the ‘Fine Then’ part. So true. That’s the charm of LoS. Now I want to go re-read!!
    I think that if he’s reading the “classics” he really should continue with Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. Oh come on. That has to be about the best contemporary title around. Cal, Min, Elvis and the krispy kremes are legendary.

  6. 6
    Lori S. says:

    For the phure snark factor ahlone, I’m vhoting for Dark Lover

  7. 7
    Cassie says:

    I’m casting my vote for Bet Me. Excellent suggestion, Mads!

  8. 8
    Rae says:

    I had the same reaction to the NASCAR line, and being in NC, it’s a little hard to avoid. I will throw out there, while maybe not the best example of the series, I was introduced to Speed Dating courtesy of the 60th Anniversary give away and was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

  9. 9
    KristieJ says:

    I vote for Flat Out Sexy too.  And what great thoughts on LOS from a male perspective!

  10. 10
    Carin says:

    I also vote for Flat Out Sexy.  Though he asked for a lousier one, pretty much anything is lousier than LoS. I remeber really enjoying Flat Out Sexy, but I also remember it having a lot of NASCAR metphors (or similies???  Oh, too long since high school!)  Anyway, the NASCAR references made it fun and a bit cheesy.

  11. 11
    Jenica says:

    The man’s already converted, and we’ve earned some serious snark from him waiting for 6 months (and I think he’s ready to give us some snort-worthy reviews if we can give him the right material)!  I think Doc’s sense of humor could appreciate a Harlequin Presents followed by the Unfeasibly Tall Greek Billionaire’s Blackmailed Martyr-Complex Secretary Mistress-Bride.  Speaking of, when is Tumperkin et al. going to craft another masterpiece?

  12. 12
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    Glad to have DocTurtle back!

    I cast my vote for Laura Kinsale next, specifically For My Lady’s Heart, since it was one of the most entertaining things I’ve read in a long, long time (and has Middle English dialogue, Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse, and a kick-ass heroine, to boot.)

    Forget snark-worthy, I say go for the good stuff.

  13. 13
    Anne Calhoun says:

    FWIW, I read LoS based on the comments on SBTB and feel that book could turn all but the hardest of hearts to the wonders of romance! What about Joanna Bourne? The Spymaster’s Lady is a really great, intricately plotted romance…

  14. 14

    I’m tempted to throw an angsty Kinsale in his general direction, maybe Flowers from the Storm?  Or one with a touch more humor (and hedgehogs), Midsummer Moon.

    But if you want to alternate contemp/historical, it’s hard to beat Crusie.

  15. 15
    GrowlyCub says:

    For historical, Mary Jo Putney’s ‘The Rake and the Reformer’, for contemporary I agree on McCarthy.  I haven’t read the NASCAR ones yet, but I read some of her others and really enjoyed them.

    Spam word: standard69… I wish, even standard kind of 69 would be nice right now… grin

  16. 16
    Brenna says:

    I have been wondering lately what happened to the rest of DocTurtle’s review and finely we got to read it.  I’m so glad he thinks it’s one of the best books he’s read in a long time.  I think so too.

    I’d second the J R Ward book recommendation.  It is so ridiculously over the top that I’d like to read a male’s perspective on it.  And the snark!

  17. 17
    Lovecow2000 says:

    I vote for snark worthy!  Please…. How about getting him to read about Spikenard and Bronwyn?  Or what about Ravenous Romance? Okay… now that’s just mean.

    Here’s a serious one: Joey Hill’s Natural Law.  BDSM isn’t usually my cuppa tea, but this one is one fantastic book!

    Spam Word:
    near68… is that like almost69?

  18. 18
    Kit says:

    Yay, Doc Turtle is back! Doc, I’m glad your semester of strife is over and you’re back with us!

    I say it’s time to change up the genre with something other than a historical. I think it would be fine to read A Civil Campaign without reading the other Vorkosigan books first, since that’s how I did it. (I get them from the library, so I can never read them in order anyway.) But you can’t go wrong with Bet Me either.

    feel75: I feel 75 kinds of glad that I am not a teacher anymore.

  19. 19
    KatherineB says:

    Oh, oh, I never thought of ‘For my Lady’s Heart’! That’s be a twist, a nice medieval one! Tho a contemporary might offer more snark and snorts from us readers of his reviews. FMLH had quite good medieval word building.

  20. 20
    darlynne says:

    You’ve already done Heyer, category and historical. I’d like to see something different and will third the Dark Lover recommendation. I am still a huge fan of the series and fully aware that Doc Turtle’s take on it would probably involve much snark and not a little stuff coming out my nose.

    OTOH, if we’re wanting to offer a universally acclaimed best—are we still converting him or is that a done-deal now?—then I’ll suggest Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten or Patricia Briggs’ Moon Called.

  21. 21
    RStewie says:

    For My Lady’s Heart FTW!!  That’s such a great book, and I LOVE that it’s almost exclusively from the Hero’s POV.  I’m thirding (fourthing) that one!!

    Or a Paranormal, in which case I would say Meljean Brook’s series is Excellent, or the new one from Nalini Singh, Angel’s Blood, which I thought was great.

  22. 22
    joykenn says:

    I vote for a paranormal but not a completely snarkworthy one.  Maybe skip the elves and such.  How about a man’s viewpoint of some of the better vampire/werwolf ones.  I can’t bear to suggest any of Freehan’s since they are kind of a guilty pleasure for romance readers.  And, does the Anita Blake series even count as romance since they seem more erotic fiction.  How about Kitty and the Midnight Hour?  Nice humor, lots of paranormal?

  23. 23

    I’ve got to say The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. SO GOOD. For contemporary, how about something more recent? Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl, for example. Or a Nora book! Can any romance education be considered complete that misses out on La Nora?

  24. 24
    Leslie says:

    How about some Susan Elizabeth Philips? She manages to blend a little purple prose with fun storylines and interesting characters – although “Kiss an Angel” is WAAAY over the top (and frequently re-read). I liked “Dream and Little Dream” and “Natural Born Charmer.”

  25. 25
    shaunee says:

    “Decadent.”  Just to see if he can outdo Candy’s epic review.  Sorry for the unfortunate rhyme.

  26. 26
    Silver James says:

    Snark-worthy paranormal, definitely Ward’s DARK LOVER. Or maybe Katie MacAlister’s Aisling Gray for humorous para. Or Moning’s KISS OF THE HIGHLANDER?

  27. 27
    Strategerie says:

    Bet Me. It’s a classic. Plus, I can’t wait to hear Doc Turtle’s comments about the wonder that is Cal.

    I loves me some Cal.

    In the meantime, damn. Now I want to read LoS AGAIN.

    -S

  28. 28
    Tina C. says:

    I’d say contemporary or paranormal would be good—or one of those Special Forces type books.  I’d suggest:

    Contemporary (good):  Crusie (Bet Me or Agnes and the Hitman) or Roberts (Angels Fall or Northern Lights)

    Contemporary (snark-worthy):  Oh so many to choose from and yet I can’t think of one right now.

    Paranormal (good):  Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series

    Paranormal (snark-worthy):  Any of the latest LKH Anita Blake books (anything after #8 or #9, maybe)

    Special Forces and/or thrillers (good):  Brockman’s recent Seals series or Howard (I really liked Mr Perfect) and To Die For)

    Special Forces and/or thrillers (snark-worthy):  I enjoy Cherry Adair’s T-Flac series, but I have no illusions that it’s not snark-worthy.  I contend that it is Teh Crak snark-worthy, though!

  29. 29
    Suze says:

    I would LOVE to see Doc Turtle’s reaction to the Bhrotherhhoohd.  I wonder if it will prove as crack-like to the male reader as it has been for so many of us females.  I wonder if the WTFery of it all will burn out the snark synapses, rendering him useless as a source of snarkerrific amusement thereafter.  I wonder if doing such a thing to him would be ethical.

  30. 30
    Laura Kinsale says:

    Please please do not give a snarky mathematics prof Flowers From the Storm/i].  I beg you. 

    I can neither add nor subtract.  The math is all faked.  I admit it.  Can I go home now?

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