Last Night's Scandal, by Loretta Chase

>> Sunday, July 15, 2012

TITLE: Last Night's Scandal
AUTHOR: Loretta Chase

PAGES: 384

SETTING: Victorian England and Scotland
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: #5 in the Carsington series

After surviving the perils of Egypt, Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle, is back in London, facing the most dire threat of all: his irrational family... and Miss Olivia Wingate-Carsington. A descendant of notorious—but very aristocratic—swindlers, the delectable redhead has the ability to completely unhinge him and a long history of dragging him into her scandalous schemes.

Olivia may be Society's darling, but she's aware a respectable future looms menacingly. And so when Lisle is forced to go on a family mission, she sees this as the perfect chance for one last adventure—even if it is with the one man in the world she can't wrap around her finger. But really, she only wants to help...

Which is why Lisle and Olivia find themselves in a gloomy Scottish castle inhabited by spiteful ghosts and craven murderers... and a shocking secret: the greatest peril of all may be burning within their own stubborn hearts.
If you read Chase's Lord Perfect, you'll remember Olivia and Peregrine, the children whose escapades forced the hero and heroine together. This story is set a few years later, and features them as the main characters.

Since the events in Lord Perfect, Peregrine (now called by his title, Lisle, as a proper grown-up) has spent most of his time in Egypt, with his uncle Rupert (from Mr. Impossible). He's developed a passion (well, obsession) for Egyptology, and wants nothing more than to spend all of his time in Egypt, pursuing his interest. His silly parents, however, have other ideas, and the next time he comes back to England, they threaten to cut him off unless he sorts out some trouble at a family property in Scotland.

Lisle is very annoyed, since convincing some superstitious villagers in Scotland that a castle is not haunted hardly seems worth his time, but he resigns himself. Even more annoying is discovering that, in the years since he's seen her, his old friend Olivia has become disturbingly beautiful and attractive. On second thought, leaving immediately for Scotland sounds like a good idea.

But Olivia is determined to have one more adventure before entering into a society marriage and forsaking excitement for all time, and who better to accompany her in that than Lisle, with whom she shared the adventure to end all adventures all those years ago. Before long, they're both bound for Scotland.

I really, really liked this. It's always fun to watch a proper, serious and controlled hero go completely mindless after the heroine, and Lisle does that, and how! He can't speak, can't think when he looks at her and notices her "satanic breasts". He's not happy about it, but is powerless to resist. And best of all, the way Chase writes this is very, very funny, but at the same time, affecting and emotional, and made me sigh happily.

Both Olivia and Lisle felt very young, but I didn't mind that at all. In fact, I liked it, because I felt that both were at the same level of maturity, and that they would grow very well together. Olivia's love of fun and drama would lighten up Lisle, without driving him crazy (other than in a good way) and Lisle's seriousness would ground Olivia, without flattening her spirit.

All that said, I had a bit of a strange experience with LNS. As I was reading it I really enjoyed it. It's clear from what I've written above that I liked the main characters and loved the steamy chemistry between them. I also liked the cast of secondary characters, I liked the plot, I liked the setting, I liked the writing... I disliked nothing about the book, in short. And yet I found it a bit too easy to put down. At one point I actually put it down for a whole week and read two whole books and a short story before I picked it up again. To be fair, these were all books that couldn't possibly have been more different to LNS (a very graphic mystery, a collection of essays, a Meljean Brookunk novella), so it might well have been that I just wasn't in the right mood for a funny historical. Still, it clearly wasn't as compelling as it could have been, and that keeps it from an A grade.



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