Trashy Read 2012 #6: Scandal Wears Satin, by Loretta Chase
By now you all know that Loretta Chase is my favorite romance writer. So of course I read her new book, Scandal Wears Satin. It's the second book in a planned trilogy about the Noirot sisters, who own a dress shop in London. The first book, Silk Is for Seduction, was wonderful. It's always a problem when the first book of a trilogy is really, really good. Because the odds are you won't enjoy the next two nearly as much, what with the high expectations that have been set.
That's what happened here. Scandal Wears Satin is certainly enjoyable, as funny and well-plotted as any Chase novel. But it felt weaker than Silk Is for Seduction, more insubstantial. The ending was rushed, and the emotional stakes weren't as high as those in the previous book. The path towards the characters' happy ending felt too easy, which works in contemporaries but not in historicals, where resistance should come from a lot of societal levels. I can't complain too much, though, as I did get through the book rather quickly and found it to be a perfectly pleasant way to pass the time. I like the hero a lot. Lord Longmore (Harry) is entitled, sure, but he's a normal bloke. Not terribly bright, led around by his desire for fun, but still a decent guy. You don't see a lot of average guys in historical romance - they are always exceedingly smart or crazy masculine or sometimes overly nice. It's nice to just see a dude being a dude. It makes his attraction to Sophy, the scheming brains of the Noirot fashion operation, seem organic.
Speaking of organic, one of my favorite things about Chase is her sense of humor. Specifically, that she lets that humor come out through her characters rather than through situation (most of the time, anyway). When her characters say something witty or do something funny, it never feels like a function of the story. Rather, it comes through the fact that readers get to know the characters and understand that the humor comes from who they are and how they interact with people. That's a rare gift, particularly in genre writing, and I really appreciate it. Humor should be organic, not forced (I'm looking at you, 50 Shades of Grey).
So if you're a Chase fan, I recommend Scandal Wears Satin, even if it's not as good as the book that comes before it in the trilogy. (Note: The next and last book in the series will feature Leonie, the mathematically-inclined youngest sister. So far, she's been a pretty bland presence, so I hope she fully comes out in the next book. Strangely enough, there's no signs so far of who she's going to be paired up with, which is rare in this kind of trilogy.)