Book Review

Last Night’s Scandal by Loretta Chase

A

Title: Last Night's Scandal
Author: Loretta Chase
Publication Info: Avon 2010
ISBN: 978-0061632679
Genre: Historical: European

Book CoverOlivia and Lisle are characters who first appeared in Lord Perfect and who have now grown up, grown together while very far apart, and grown ready for their happy ending. Lisle is in Egypt with his aunt and uncle doing sandy digs for archeological treasures, and Olivia is back in London, digging up trouble and always up to something, while tirelessly and faithfully chronicling her adventures, limited though they are, to Lisle in letters. Lisle is a somewhat spotty but affectionate correspondent for Olivia, and for years they have maintained their deep friendship over long distances solely through written communication.

Olivia adores Lisle, and yet is wise enough to know that, while no one could possibly be better for him or love him more than she does, he will always yearn to be away from England, away from his crazy family and their stifling manipulations, and therefore away from her. (Major points for Olivia’s character for that wisdom.) When Lisle comes home and finds himself maneuvered into visiting a supposedly haunted property in wet, drippy, opposite-of-Egypt-in-every-way Scotland, Olivia comes up with a very quick and very devious scheme to have them both sent to Scotland where, even though she knows Lisle will likely be miserable, she plans one last attempt to turn his head and get him to notice that she is perfect for him, and possibly even better than Egypt.

There’s a Sarah MacLachlan song that always makes me smile wherein she sings, ‘Your love is better than chocolate, better than anything else that I’ve tried. Your love is better than ice cream… and it’s a long way down, back to the place where we started from.’ As much as I hate to compare a book to a pop song, that pretty much encapsulates this story: Olivia knows there is nothing better than Lisle, and is hoping Lisle will realize that he does care for her, that adventures with her are better than Egypt’s mysteries and adventure, and that the long history of their affection and deeper friendship will serve as an excellent foundation for the future.

Olivia’s realism is wonderful: Lisle is her friend, and she knows him better than anyone, but even with that knowledge, she’s sometimes surprised and annoyed by her feelings for him. She knows she’s got it bad and steers herself way from getting all moony over him, even when she can barely help herself:

Their comments brought back the warm pressure of his powerful arm across her body. She could practically feel it, still, as though he’d left an imprint, curse him. Never mind. He was a man being excessively manly, and it was thrilling, but she’d recover.

And being Lisle, naturally, he had to be aggravating and turn up more quickly than she’d expected.

Olivia and Lisle are wonderful characters, revealed in letters and piece by piece as complex and admirable people. They know their own faults and flaws, and they effortlessly depend on one another. Olivia made me laugh out loud, and Lisle was smoking hot in all the right places, a supportive yet sardonic friend as well, and the two of them are just piles and piles of fun to read about. Their dialogue is uncommonly fun:

“Any competent fellow can strike a spark as easily and quickly—and more safely—with a tinderbox.”

“Most people won’t practice ten thousand times, on purpose, just to prove they can do something,” she said.

“I did not practice ten – Gad, why do I let you bait me? Is it too much to ask you to stay close? We don’t know how much clearing out they’ve done.”

“Just because I’ve squeezed my gigantic bottom into men’s trousers, you needn’t assume my brains have shrunk to masculine size, ” she said. “I’m perfectly aware that you’re the one holding the only candle, and I’m not longing to trip over stray bits of cathedral.”

Olivia isn’t pert and sharp with him to hide her feelings; that is just how they talk to each other, and it’s marvelously fun.

The only complaint I have, and it’s minimal, is how easily their nemeses are revealed and dealt with, how it all wraps up with the one-scene simplicity of a Shakespearean comedy – but even then, that simplicity is brought about by a complex and captivating plot.

Prepare for squeeful gushing! This is a book that many fans will make that noise about, the one where someone says the title and a handful of people half-groan and half-squee in response. You know, the Romance Reader Noise.

I loved the plot, I loved the characters, I loved the warmth and eloquent slow development of their friendship into deeper (and hotter!) attraction, I loved the setting and the mystery and the cast of characters around them, and I loved that yet again, Loretta Chase has demonstrated that anyone seeking to correct someone’s misapprehension about romance novels should select from several of her books, including this one, to see How Good Romance Gets Done.

Special note to Ms. Chase: Holy hopping in my chair, thank you for writing this book.


You can purchase Last Night’s Scandal at Amazon, Book Depository, Powells, and nook/BN.com.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Kiersten says:

    I am going to B&N at lunch to get this. I have it written in my work calendar so I don’t forget – THAT’S how much I’ve been looking forward to this book! SO GLAD to hear it delivers b/c I love these characters and this family to bits and pieces. This book is going to straight to the top of my TBR list for the next 5 days that I’m spending alone in the Poconos writing and reading fabulous books!

  2. 2
    Sam says:

    I’ve only recently started reading Loretta Chase, and I’m addicted. I detest romance novels in which the main characters fall deeply into lust and the author insists that it’s “Wuv, twu wuv…” without developing a real relationship (or plot, or character) outside of the sexual attraction. With Loretta Chase, and this book in particular, I finish and just wish she had written a longer book so it wouldn’t be over yet. I love her plots, her characters have (dare I say it?) depth… What’s not to love?

    My only complaint is that she doesn’t give me long enough to enjoy the characters. Some of these books could easily be a couple hundred pages longer, with more realistic conflict and more depth to the resolution.

  3. 3

    I’m reading this right now—-the only book I bought at RWA and I could barely contain myself when I saw it on the table in the bookseller’s room. I’m allowing myself only a few pages a day because I know I will be sad when I’m finished, and will have to wait interminably for Chase’s next book.

    “When he’d finished answering questions and the audience began to disperse, he broke through the wall of men—dim-witted fowl clustered around a dozing crocodile as he saw it—and offered to take her home.” Only Chase could have her hero describe her heroine as a crocodile and make it mean so much more.

  4. 4

    I enjoyed this very much, and part of what I liked about it was how characters from past Chase novels whose stories intersect with Olivia’s were mentioned in passing, but we weren’t overwhelmed by them. 

    It was a fun read, which is exactly what I was looking for in this story.

  5. 5
    Karenmc says:

    This book and Julia Anne Long’s new one are battling it out at the top of my TBR pile. I hear them pushing each other around when I walk past that shelf. As soon as I finish the two books I’m currently tangled in, there will be rock-paper-scissors happening.

  6. 6
    Jennifer U says:

    Yay!  It’s sitting at the top of my TBR pile and I just finished my last book.  I CAN’T wait to read it!  I still sigh every time I think of the glove scene in Lord of Scoundrels.  Thanks for the review!

  7. 7
    Anony Miss says:

    A romance heroine admits to the hero that she has a large backside?

    Sir Mix-a-lot, your lady doth await you!

  8. 8
    Anony Miss says:

    Yikes! Someone posted the step-back on Amazon.
    a) tush, not that big
    b) methinks I am too young for that cover. That’s like… nekked.

  9. 9
    LizC says:

    I loved this book. Definitely top 5 favorite Loretta Chase. Maybe Top 3. But I’ve been waiting for this story since I read Lord Perfect.

    and is hoping Lisle will realize that he does care for her, that adventures with her are better than Egypt’s mysteries and adventure, and that the long history of their affection and deeper friendship will serve as an excellent foundation for the future

    I feel like I didn’t read this part of the book the same way. I think because Olivia did struggle with her attraction to Lisle so how could she both plot to put them in a situation where he realizes he enjoys adventures with her more than adventures in Egypt without her and at the same time also resist acknowledging that what she feels for Lisle goes beyond recognizing that he grew up nice?

    I took it at face value that she merely just wanted one last adventure with her best friend before she settled down to marriage with some dull English lord.

    @Anony Miss
    That’s not exactly what happens. She willfully misinterprets a comment Lisle makes because she’s annoyed with him.

  10. 10
    JudyPatooty says:

    Long-time blog reader, first-time poster …

    You asked “Was it good for you?”  The answer is unequivocally “YES!”

    I’m just about finished reading this very excellent book and I’m starting to notice a feeling of wistfulness creeping over me at the thought that I’ll have to wait an interminably long time until Ms. Chase publishes another book.

    Lord of Scoundrels, Lord Perfect, and Mr. Impossible were already way up there on my list of favorite romance novels.  Now I’ll need to make room to add Last Night’s Scandal to the list.

  11. 11
    AgTigress says:

    Great review.  I really loved Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible, in part because of her sound, intelligent and well-researched grasp of early 19thC Egypt, so I shall definitely look out for this new one. 
    Looking forward to it.  :)

  12. 12
    Flo says:

    Yeeessssssss…. I needed something to while away the hot August days and the rest of my maternity leave.  Nothing better than a Chase book!  Huzzah!

  13. 13
    L says:

    Hooray! Just started reading Loretta Chase’s books and I LOVE THEM. Totally excited that this one is finally out. I’m going to Border’s right now!

  14. 14

    I overheard several published authors talking about this book at RWA – they were delighted by it!  As a fan of Lord Perfect, this was an auto buy – so the great reviews are a bonus!

  15. 15
    cories says:

    I, too, have been waiting for this book since “Lord Perfect”.  Thanks for the review.  I can’t wait!

  16. 16
    Allison says:

    I loved, loved, loved it.  I loved Olivia most and how Ms. Chase showed us (instead of telling us) how Olivia was sensible AND fanciful.  It was nice that a lot of the attraction between the two wasn’t based on the divining rod of his wang (the whole, she’s so hot, I have to make her mine forever with my peen business), but rather on the basis of their mutual friendship. 

    I wanted more denouement, but that’s because I’m always so sad when a good book is over.

  17. 17

    So excited to read this! Going to start it tomorrow and as soon as i finish I’ll read this review- which I so hope I agree with.

  18. 18
    sweetsiouxsie says:

    I had never heard of Loretta Chase before reading this web site. Thank you SBTB!!! I have all of Loretta Chase’s books including this new one. I can’t wait to start it! I am in the middle of Sherry Thomas’ “His at Night” which is a wonderful read.

  19. 19
    Diane/Anonym2857 says:

    So… if I haven’t read the earlier four Carsington books, will I be sorry if I read this one first?

    Diane :oP

  20. 20
    Jessica M.D. says:

    @Diane

    I don’t think so. . .  I have read all of the earlier books, but I think you can enjoy this one w/o having read the other books.  Some of the Carsingtons from the previous novels are mentioned, but they aren’t prominently featured in the story.

    On the other hand, a big part of my enjoyment of this book came from revisiting Olivia and Lisle—even as children, they stole the show in Lord Perfect.  It was great seeing how they, and their relationship, have changed, grown, and how much they’ve remained the same.

    Ultimately, I don’t think you need to read them all before you read Last Night’s Scandal—maybe just Lord Perfect.  But you definitely need to read them all when you get the chance.

  21. 21
    Malin says:

    I’m so glad this was tons better than last year’s Don’t Tempt Me (which is my least favourite Chase), but as I love her books so much, this actually only comes sixth for me. While it was delightful and fun and it was great to see Olivia and Lisle as grownups – it can’t beat Captives of the Night, The Last Hellion, Your Scandalous Ways, Mr. Impossible or Lord of Scoundrels.

    Still, Loretta Chase is probably my favourite romance author (rivaled only by Julia Quinn) so the sixth best of her novels is still usually miles better than any other romance.

  22. 22
    Toni says:

    Olivia and Lisle have won a coveted place in my Best Romantic Couples Ever! Hall of Fame.

    I love it when a couple are Friends first, especially if they have been friends since childhood, and develop a rock-solid basis for love before they realize they are “in love” with each other. One of my favorite romance tropes and this book hit the spot deliciously.

  23. 23
    FD says:

    I loved this book.  However, like LizC, I didn’t read Olivia’s motivations the same way as SBSarah.  It didn’t occur to me as I was reading, but after I finished the book, I went, wait, what?  While reading it, I was swept up and and enjoying it, and it left me with that lovely warm romance-y glow, but as soon as I put it down I was going: Why on earth did she dream up the scheme and sell it to his parents the way she did if she didn’t want to push him into marrying her?

    And yet, the internal dialogue is clear – she’s resisting involvement with him, because she doesn’t believe she’s the right person for him, and as such, he’s not the right person for her.  (I loved that part incidentally – it felt genuinely loving on both their parts to understand that even though they love each other, together, they may not be the best option.  Not ridiculously self-sacrificial as it frequently is.)

    I get that she’s impulsive and all, but the longer I thought about it, the less happy I was with the plot.  It just doesn’t make sense.  If you read it like SBSarah did, then she’s lying in her internal dialogue – yet I didn’t feel the book was written with her as an unreliable narrator.  If you read it as her just wanting a last adventure, which was how I initially took it, then Lisle’s bafflement at the scheme when she originally presents it is correct – what the hell does she expect to achieve other than some fun for her (while Lisle is miserable)?  It certainly doesn’t help Lisle’s situation any – in fact, it actually makes it worse, because IMO he’s correct in his estimation of his parents as they are written.  They’re monstrously selfish – and having given in to them and let them move him around like a chess piece, they’re only going to try harder to do so in the future.  The trip north only postpones the problem.  That view of it makes her look not just impulsive – but rather selfish.

    Also the neat way it’s wrapped up at the end, even though it’s lovely and tidy – Lisle never confronts his parents – never makes a stand.  The way it’s set up, he never will.  Dunno if it’s my personal issues or not, but I feel weird about the idea of him essentially using Olivia as his human shield – because that’s exactly what I foresee happening in their future!

    And whoa, that’s a long screed.  And yet, I really did love the book and am re-reading it.

  24. 24
    XXIV says:

    I loved it and it was lots of fun. But it was very flimsy, as was Don´t Tempt Me compared to older Chase books. The interaction and relationships here are almost not developed compared to Lord Perfect. Problem with me was not so much the plot, but the characterization, it is too shallow! Peregrine is more complex as a 13 year old than as a 24 year old! I missed his relationship with his uncle very much as well.

    All that, I still loved it.  The old ladies, LOL.

  25. 25
    emdee says:

    A fun LOL book!  I just started it and was entranced by the letters with the double underlines and the crossouts.  A great book and worthy of being at the top of Chase’s work, right up there with you know what.

  26. 26
    Kathleen O'Reilly says:

    Stayed up until 2am reading this one in the tub (COLD WATER!!).  Happy sigh.  As a note, there are no underlines or crossouts in the Kindle edition, so i missed that, but didn’t realize that I missed it until now. :)

  27. 27
    JoAnnarama says:

    Huh. Just re-read Lord Perfect yesterday and wondered if Chase would do more with the kids, who were absolutely right on. Best friend moment: when Lisle explains that Olivia’s tricks of getting money out of a little old lady via teary eyes and quivering lip is like a big bully beating a little kid—and that makes her stop and think. I recommend anyone who hasn’t read Lord Perfect do so before Last Night’s Scandal, which I intend to grab as soon as I can get to a bookstore.
    Chase, by the way, is delicious in part for her dialogue, which reads authentic to me in tone and British delivery.

  28. 28
    Jennifer says:

    I’m not sure that standing up to his parents would do Lisle a lick of good because they are batshit crazy and clearly believe what they want to and do what they want to. He may be in a better position to do so now that he’s independently wealthy, but there’s still no way he’s going to get them to say, realize something sane. (My personal issuez, let me show you them.) I think Olivia has the right idea of manipulating them within their mental frame of reality.

    I bought Olivia’s reasons for doing what she did. Yes, deep down she wishes the guy would love her, there’s no denying that’s a (barely) subconscious motivator for her actions. But her overall goal is to benefit Lisle even if it means that he goes off to Egypt without her in the spring and marries a hot Egyptian girl. The fun for her on the side is also a benefit, sure, but it’s not her #1 goal. If getting what his parents want done gets him back to Egypt by spring, then yay. So I bought it. The only thing that’s a little hard to buy in this book is that Lisle couldn’t just marry Olivia and bring her to Egypt, ‘cause you know she’d love to go. But it makes more sense that he could do that once he wasn’t trapped into doing what his parents wanted because they were paying for it all, and that his parents probably would force him to stay at home had Olivia not done what she did.

    I think this is a brilliant book, probably one of the best “friends first” I have ever seen. Olivia is adorably fun to read and I love watching how she operates in different situations, and I love how Lisle isn’t nearly as stodgy as he thinks he is with her, and the sex scenes were hotttttttttt. And adorable. Just as good as Mr. Impossible, in my opinion.

    I wish there could be a book about Rupert/Daphne/Lisle/Olivia in Egypt. I don’t care what kind of plot, and I know it’ll never happen because the love-falling has been done, but THAT WOULD BE AWESOME to see them solving Egyptian mysteries together or something.

  29. 29
    Rebecca says:

    @Jennifer

    I wish there could be a book about Rupert/Daphne/Lisle/Olivia in Egypt. I don’t care what kind of plot, and I know it’ll never happen because the love-falling has been done, but THAT WOULD BE AWESOME to see them solving Egyptian mysteries together or something.

    I think it would be an excellent beginning into a series of mysteries based in Egypt and the journey home…

  30. 30
    Cris says:

    Ordinarily, I read a 350 page romance novel in one night, easily.  Sometimes, I’ll blow through 2 shorter ones – not because I’m an awesome reader, but because I get so excited to find out what happens next that I can’t stop reading.  I read Lord of Scoundrels and Lord Perfect on one Saturday and loved them both dearly and had great hopes for the kids.

    That said, I have been reading “Last Night’s Scandal” for A WEEK!  I can not get into it.  Lisle is great, but Olivia is Simply Annoying with all of her Capital Letters and Overly Dramatic plans.  I’m sure if I keep plugging away, I’ll find that the story was good and fun, but this one will not go on my “best of” lists.  Ever.

    P.S. Yes I promise to come back if I find I need to eat my words.

Comments are closed.

↑ Back to Top