Oooh what a book! I was DEFINITELY not affected like this on the first read…I liked it well enough but didn’t understand the hype, as I didn’t think it was amazing….great, but not amazing…wow the re-read was completely different. It was AMAZING!! It’s weird, because I remembered the scenes, I remembered what was going to happen, but I forgot or didn’t feel the emotions as intensely as this time around. I also forgot how bloody funny it was!
Lord Sebastian Ballister, the Marquess of Dain has a notorious reputation and an equally notorious face. In short, he is considered ugly from the day he was born due to his “large black eyes, ill-proportioned limbs” and his Italian mother’s Usignuolo nose. He is unloved by his father who calls him “devils spawn” and is abandoned by his mother at the age of eight. Since the abandonment, he is cruelly bundled off to Eton where he is teased and bullied mercilessly by his classmates over his appearance and birthright. He learns very quickly to stand up for himself, hide his feelings and buries the sensitive little boy deep into his soul- who now believes he cannot ever be loved. He also learns to make his own fortune quickly and cleverly, and uses money unscrupulously to carve his reputation as a sinful beast of society.
Ms Jessica Trent is a fashionable, intelligent, independent and willful twenty-seven year old bluestocking who has journeyed to Paris to remove her silly brother from Lord Dain’s evil clutches. Bertie Trent runs with Lord Dain’s regular company of cronies who are only interested in whoring, gambling and drinking and Bertie has dug himself into a fine gambling pit with Dain. Jessica meets Sebastian for the first time in an esteemed antique shop and there are fireworks from the beginning. Her attraction to him is instantaneous, magnetic and surprising to her – no analysis of why, no judgement, no disgust…just acceptance! Lord Dain does not want to be attracted to her but cannot help it! This is the sort of female he has spent an entire lifetime avoiding- the marriageable type. He is nothing short of a rude, despicable and boorish human being to Jess despite his lustful fantasies starring her. He behaves hatefully after their compromising ball scene and leaves her with the words “If you don’t like it, then just shoot me.” You just have to keep reading to find out what happens next!!!
Why did I like this book so much? It had so many things that would normally annoy me….
1) Constant prostitutes surrounding the hero, after they both meet
2) How he treated Jess after the ball scene (I HATED him for this! I was so angry!)
3) View Spoiler » His bastard child.
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This is something of a twist that left me reeling and I really didn’t know how to deal with and really felt sorry, hurt and angry for Jess (but Jess didn’t feel any of those emotions for herself!)
It’s the writing….its all about the writing…Loretta Chase just makes these annoyances seem so petty when we look at the big picture of what is happening between Jessica and Dain. This romance has the epitome of a tortured hero. Its not just the events of his childhood that make Sebastian tortured, again its the writing that makes it so heart wrenching. Dain’s childhood is written so emotionally that, you can’t help but ache with sadness for the lost, sensitive, lonely little Sebastian. Ms Chase also portrays our hero as an extremely sensitive being. He is probably one of the most sensitive heroes I have read about and for someone with that amount of sensitivity to be hurt at such a young age, it was really painful to readt. Dain’s viewpoints on many of the scenes were such great insights into his mind and it was probably why we as the readers are given a chance to understand why he is as he is….Then he would burn them, just as, years earlier, he’d burned the gloves he’d been wearing when Susannah had first touched his hand, and the piece of a feather that had fallen from her bonnet, and the note inviting him to the fatal dinner party at her uncle’s.
I LOVED Jess. She is an amazing female. Yes she is pretty much perfect, but I love that about her, here is pure female perfection falling for the most “ugliest” man in London instantly. Seems like Dain gets his comeuppance through Jess for his years of self-torture. I also love that she is much older because she has an air of maturity that can handle Dain and put him in his place. Anyone younger and the romance would not have been as believable. Aside from the superficial, the chemistry between Dain and Jess is electric. Their banter is witty and practical, seductive and innocent. Just beautiful!
Now onto some of the cons….The first half of the book is really really good. The second half felt a bit more subdued and normal (like coming off an adrenaline rush) and there is a twist and a lot of other going ons connected with the twist. This felt a bit rushed and sort of unnecessary but it was not badly done, but when you compare the first half to the second half you do notice a change of pace and style of plotting. I can also relate to why some readers including myself, may not be able to forgive Jess or Dain (they both do some surprising things- shooting scene, and Dain keeping a very big secret).I could not forgive them for this, but did accept that these were their choices on how to handle the situation.
This is one of my longest reviews, but I just can’t do it justice in a few short words. This is not a unique plot, but what makes it unique is the way its written to demonstrate how Jess makes Dain believe in love again. I didn’t feel the intensity of this romance on my first read over twelve years ago, but I do feel it now. It is such a beautiful romance with echoes of the Beauty and the Beast that is lushly written with plenty of witty banter, larger than life characters (don’t forget that awesome grandmother!) and heart wrenching moments to find its way to your keeper shelf. I’m so glad I kept this book to re-read it in the future! It has definitely earned its keeper shelf status!
P.S This contains one of the best kissing in the rain kisses ever written! Bone melting!!