The Last Hellion, by Loretta Chase

>> Friday, March 18, 2005

The Last Hellion, by Loretta Chase is part of a series of related books that include The Lion's Daughter, Captives of the Night, my favourite romance of all time: Lord of Scoundrels and a short story, The Mad Earl's Bride, included in the Three Weddings and a Kiss anthology.

In 1820s England, 28-year-old Lydia Grenville is a few inches under six feet tall and mind-numbingly beautiful. Clever as well as gorgeous, she is the author of a London newspaper's most popular adventure serial and has also penned scathing articles about the prostitution trade in the city. Her less-than-ladylike occupation, checkered past, and questionable lineage make it highly unlikely that she will ever marry a member of the Regency ton. However, in keeping with a long legacy of hell-raising ancestors, Vere Mallory, the notorious Duke of Ainswood, has a reputation for flaunting society's dictates. Besides, one look at Lydia and he loses his heart, although at the time, it doesn't occur to him that love is what he feels. He terms it lust and sets out to bed the beautiful Lydia.

What follows is an endearing, hilarious contest of wills between a woman determined to hold her heart and body safe, and a man just as determined to conquer her. In a final, winner-takes-all contest, Lydia and Vere come to terms, but neither is sure just who won and just who lost the wager. Is it possible they may both come out winners? Meanwhile, Lydia's very public crusade against the worst offenders in the city's illegal prostitution business has earned her dangerous enemies. Just when it seems that Vere and Lydia may resolve their personal contest of wills, the dark forces at work in the seamier side of London threaten not only Lydia, but also Vere's beloved nieces.
I know many readers, even those who loved LoS, aren't that fond of The Last Hellion, so I didn't have particularly high expectations when I started it. This meant it was a lovely surprise, how much I liked the book! A B+.

What I adored about it was how Vere was completely crazy and obsessed about Lydia, right from the beginning. Even when he believes he doesn't like her, he still can't stay away from her. Also, once he realizes how much he does like her, it's the whole woman that attracts her... her beauty, sure, but he's just as fascinated by her mind and her competence and her idealism and determination to see justice done.

And really, that's exactly what made Lydia a wonderful heroine, too. I always enjoy it when a heroine who chooses to do dangerous things doesn't behave as a TSTL twit and actually knows what she's doing. And even better, Vere knows that she knows what she's doing and when bad things happen near the end of the book, he recognizes that Lydia can make a valuable contribution and doesn't go all overprotectively, patronizingly macho.

The tone of The Last Hellion was interesting, because while it shows a darker than usual look at the horrible things that went on in the London underworld, the lovely, fun romance gives a much needed lighter touch. This can be iffy, and I can remember quite a few books which do this in which the romance and the external plot elements simply didn't go together well. It works wonderfully here, thought.

There's a lovely, sweet secondary romance here, too, between Bertie Trent (brother of Jessica Trent, from LoS and Lydia's protegée. Bertie's a character I'd become fond of... not too bright, but oh so nice and periodically showing flashes of staggering insight, so this was very nice to read.

There really aren't many negatives in this book. The only thing I can think of is that it could have used a little more fleshing out in the part in which Vere realizes that he's, in fact, in love with his wife. But that's minor. All in all, it was a truly enjoyable book.


Bona Caballero 20 November 2014 at 05:15  

I really did enjoy this book. Not so much as other books written by Loretta Chase, but it was a funny story. Very interesting characters, particularly Lydia.
I had a problem with the last part, though. IMO, it went south in the last third of the book. Becoming even boring. There was no conflict or tension between the main characters.
Nevertheless, I'd recommend this book to anybody looking for an entertaining and funny historical romance.

Bona Caballero 20 November 2014 at 05:17  

I liked this book. Not so much as other Chase's books, but it was funny and with very interesting characters, specially Lydia.
But it went South in the last part of the book, becoming even boring, as there's no conflict there between the main characters.
Nevertheless, I'd recommend this book to anybody who want to enjoy a funny and entertaining historical romance.

Rosario 24 November 2014 at 21:28  

Hi Bona! Yes, I've liked other Loretta Chase books better, but I really liked this one, too. It's been a while, so I can't quite remember what happens in the last part, but I don't think I got bored!

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