Wednesday 30 December 2015

Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase - Book Review
From the Blurb:

Lady Clara, the fan-favorite character from Loretta Chase’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Dressmakers series, finally gets her own happily ever after!

Convenient marriages are rarely so…exciting. Can society’s most adored heiress and London’s most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?

Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can’t see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax’s nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child goes missing, she turns to Oliver Radford—a handsome, brilliant, excessively conceited barrister.

Having unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford needs a bride who can navigate the Society he’s never been part of. If he can find one without having to set foot in a ballroom, so much the better. Clara—blonde, blue-eyed, and he must admit, not entirely bereft of brains—will do. As long as he can woo her, wed her—and not, like every other sapskull in London, lose his head over her…

The Review:

Radford is a barrister and Clara is a lady who wants to make the world a little bit better through her charitable work. Having first met as children, the two reconnect when Clara convinces Radford to help her search the haystack of London to find a missing child...

Clara and Radford don't always see eye to eye, but they are a smart couple, who connect as much over intelligence as they do over each others' good looks (even if Radford is frustratingly dubious about the potential for ladies to have a head on their shoulders). There's a lot of fun, witty repartee between these two that was definitely my favorite part of the novel. I adore Loretta Chase's writing, but it's her snarky dialogue that always wins me over.

This novel fits among that class of my favorite historical romances which take the opportunity of having a strong, intelligent heroine and use it to explore the variations of women's place in society, this time along side exploring the world of London youths - which was especially fascinating. The accuracy of Clara and Radford's world is excellent, and throughout this romance, I felt like I was uncovering exciting aspects of nineteenth century London and particularly loved learning about ragged schooling.

There's quite a few elements to this story, from the mystery and action of their street explorations, to the romance that is divided between the first half with Clara and Radford (re)meeting and bonding over the missing-child-mystery, and Clara falling ill, and the second half when the drama and romance reach new heights. The pacing was a little off for me, and I think I would have found the story more compelling if it had been simplified a little, but I'm pretty sure other readers will enjoy this sort of expanded plot, if only because it gives us more time with Clara and Radford.

The fourth book in the Dressmaker Series, Dukes Prefer Blondes is a smart historical romance which takes a fascinating look at the world of 19th century youths, in a romance about a sexy hero and heroine (who both might be too clever for their own good - clever enough to make this a very fun read).

Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase is a historical romance, released by Avon on December 29, 2015.

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