Loretta Chase is wonderful. Her Mr. Impossible is one of my most favorite books ever, regardless of genre. You should actually stop reading this review, go buy that book, and read it instead. Needless to say, I am happy whenever I get to read a new one by her.
Scandal Wears Satin did not disappoint, which is not a surprise.
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 manipulative skills, leaving her little patience for a big, reckless rakes 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 …
There’s plenty of detail to love in this story. Sophy and Longmore are so good together, her go-get-em ambition up against his gruffness. I like the way that their different class positions (her a working woman and him a do-nothing aristocrat) have an impact on their relationship, how they see the world and other people, and what decisions they want to make versus what they actually do.
But, look. I read lots of romance novels and I don’t choose to spend time writing reviews of them. I knew I would be reviewing this one when I got the second sex scene between Sophy and Longmore. These two characters clearly like each other from the beginning, though neither will really admit it. Even after they have made love once, their prickliness does not diminish. And Chase – oh, bless her – captures it all so perfectly in the banter between them during this scene. I love this scene so much I’ve probably already read it four (or ten) times. It makes me chuckle each time. Hell, I’m chuckling now just thinking about it.
Like normal, they are quarreling about how Sophy should have handled a situation. In an elaborate scheme to shame a man who has bamboozled Longmore’s sister, Sophy has donned a disguise and a false identity. She has just returned from having a very long dinner date with the man whom they are trying to shame and Longmore, in all his jealousy, is very upset. She has told Longmore to go, he has said he will. She has held open the door, he has shut it. And then he picks her up and carries her to the sofa:
He broke the kiss and said, “I’m leaving now.”
“Good,” she said. “It’s about time.”
He dropped her onto the sofa, and the satin whooshed and hissed at him as she struggled to pull herself up to a sitting position.
“Goodbye,” he said.
“Good riddance,” she said.
He peeled off his coat. “I’m never coming back,” he said.
“Never is too soon,” she said.
He untied his neckcloth. “I’m done with you.”
“I was done with you ages ago.”
He started to unfasten his trousers. He kept his hands very steady. He didn’t hurry. One. Button. At. A. Time.
She watched him through narrowed eyes. “You’re dreaming,” she said. “Never. Never in a million years.”
“I’m not even going to take off your clothes,” he said. “It’s too much bother.”
“You don’t deserve to see my beautiful body,” she said.
“It’s not that beautiful,” he said.
“Yes, it is—and much more beautiful than yours—which I never want to see again, ever—especially that part.” Her gaze slid to his trouser front, where his excited cock throbbed against the flap. […]
He dragged up her skirts and petticoats and murmured in French that she was impossible, intolerable, and he wanted nothing to do with her.
“I’m leaving and I’ll never come back,” he said as he knelt between her legs.
“Good,” she gasped. “I can’t wait to see the last of you.”
He slid his fingers under the bottom of her corset, and up past the slit of her drawers to the tape at the waist. “I won’t miss you at all,” he said as he untied them.
“I’ve forgotten you already,” she said. He pulled down her drawers, slowly, down past her knees.
And it goes on. The capper is that afterwards Chase writes:
His weight shifted. “Well, then, let that be a lesson to you,” he said.
Too good, Ms. Chase. Too good.
I give Scandal Wears Satin 4 out of 5 stars. When’s the next one?