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Dukes Prefer Blondes (The Dressmakers Series) Mass Market Paperback – December 29, 2015
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“Queen of love and laughter Chase returns with a laugh-out-loud novel destined for the keeper shelf. There’s hardly time to breathe between giggles and guffaws...The result is perfection.” (Romantic Times, TOP PICK)
“Two refreshingly original, superbly matched characters clash with splendidly sexy results in the always inventive Chase’s latest deliciously witty and satisfying romance.” (Booklist (starred review) on Don't Tempt Me)
Quinn of love and laughter Chase returns with a laugh-out-loud novel destined for the keeper shelf. There’s hardly time to breathe between giggles and guffaws as a delightful cast of characters romp through the countryside to an ancient Scottish castle inhabited by ghosts. The result is perfection. (Romantic Times TOP PICK)
“There’s something so enchanting about the story, the characters and their relationships that makes Vixen in Velvet more than a love story; it’s joyous.” (Romantic Times BOOKclub, 4.5 stars)
Chase moves beyond the couture Noirot sisters in her historical Dressmakers series, and the unconventional pairing of an aristocrat and a barrister, plus an exploration of London poverty and the well-intentioned “ragged schools,” adds fascinating social and historical texture. Chase retains her well-earned star status. (Kirkus Reviews, praise for DUKES PREFER BLONDES)
“In addition to the powerful social commentary on women’s role in society and the life of youth in London’s poverty-ridden back alleys and schools, Chase’s tongue-in-cheek tone captures tender and humorous nuances in character descriptions and actions, creating fully realized characters and a rich plot.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review), praise for DUKES PREFER BLONDES)
RITA Award-winning Chase...deftly stitches together superbly nuanced characters, a captivating plot that realistically deals with both the glitter and grime of the Regency era, and a graceful writing style fueled by a resplendent sense of wit to create a romance to cherish. (Booklist (starred review) for DUKES PREFER BLONDES)
With flawless research, exquisite sensuality, and brilliant repartee that extends to the bedroom, this is another unforgettable winner from the impeccable Chase. (Library Journal (starred review) for DUKES PREFER BLONDES)
“One of the best writers in the genre...This is romance as it should be: a lush tale that is really about much more than love - it’s about womanhood, social issues and happiness.” (All About Romance praise for DUKES PREFER BLONDES)
As always, Chase crafts an intelligent, witty, sexy romance with two well-matched characters ... The tinge of mystery that thrusts the storyline forward - along with the sharp repartee, laugh-out-loud humor and steamy sexual tension - make this a stand-out read. (Romantic Times BOOKclub, 4 1/2 stars, Top Pick, praise for DUKES PREFER BLONDES)
“...a lingering, sensual romance set against a rich backdrop of pre-Victorian London in all its glamour and grime. This is romance as it should be: a lush tale that is really about much more than love - it’s about womanhood, social issues and happiness.” (NYT bestselling author Sarah MacLean in the Washington Post)
About the Author
Loretta Chase has worked in academe, retail, and the visual arts, as well as on the street—as a meter maid—and in video, as a scriptwriter. She might have developed an excitingly checkered career had her spouse not nagged her into writing fiction. Her bestselling historical romances, set in the Regency and Romantic eras of the early nineteenth century, have won a number of awards, including the Romance Writers of America's RITA®.
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Top Customer Reviews
FINAL DECISION: Simply adorable with a hero and heroine who are clever and witty to one another. The banter is high in this one. A social mismatched between an aristocratic heiress and a barrister is filled with laughter and a serious romance that is a keeper.
THE STORY: Lady Clara Fairfax is slowly being smothered by her role in society. She keeps getting marriage proposals from men who don't interest her. She has begun to want more. When she sees a young seamstress in training upset because her brother has disappeared, Clara becomes determined to help. Clara ends up seeking legal help and meets Mr. Oliver "Raven" Radford, a barrister who also is in line of become a duke unless his cousin straightens out his own life. Raven is brilliant and steps on people's toes. As the two join forces to help the young boy, they also bicker and argue into a sens of respect and then something more. But can a man who wants nothing to do with the aristocracy and a woman bred for nothing else ever have a future together?
OPINION: This was a book that snuck up on me. The pages went by and when the book ended, I realized that I adored it and went back to re-read my favorite parts. The fact that I wanted to re-read so quickly is a good sign that this book will be on my keeper shelf for years to come.
Clara and Raven make such a terrific bickering couple. No one does bickering love better than Loretta Chase. The main characters argue and push against one another and seem to be entirely wrong for one another until the moment when it becomes clear that there could never be anyone better.
This is a cross-social love story where it turns out that both social positions are necessary to the success of the romance. I love what Chase has done with Clara's character. She has grown from the young woman who was willing to be led to become a woman of substance and determination. My favorite part of the courtship between Clara and Raven is his willingness to allow her to be herself and not be constrained by the rules for women. HIs acceptance of Clara is rather sexy and romantic. He sees her for who she is and he falls in love with her.
Honestly, however, my favorite part of this book is Raven himself. Irritating, brutally honest, brilliant and willing to annoy people to do right, he is one of my favorite heroes. This is a self-made man who is happy with his life but finds it turned upside down by this beautiful aristocratic woman. When he falls for her, he is willing to change everything for her. Sexy, sweet, annoying, nerdy, talented -- I adored him as a character.
The plot of this book is multilayered. There is the story of the children who bring Clara to Raven and her determination to save the brother who has fallen into bad company. There is the story of the person who is trying to kill Raven (because he is the kind of man that people think about killing). There is also the story of Raven's relationship with his cousin the duke. The threads of these stories are seamlessly woven into the romance in a way that everything advances as a whole.
WORTH MENTIONING: This book has a slow buildup for the romance but it is so worth it.
CONNECTED BOOKS: DUKES PREFER BLONDES is the fourth book in the Dressmakers series but it can be read as a standalone as it is really a spin off from the original series.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.
1. Both Clara and Raven were brilliant....very quick thinkers and witty. Their parries and ripostes were hilarious. While Clara was suffocated by having to forever be a tactful airhead among the ton, Raven admired her intelligence and encouraged her being herself. As for Raven, the only word in the language he ignored was "tact."
2. The way Raven was written was fascinating and unusual ~ his logical self and emotional self frequently argued. lol
3. The characters were complex and very well drawn. I knew them. And I liked them. Strong hero, equally strong heroine.
4. The plot was so different, so interesting and was full of surprises.
5. The pace of the story was fast and had me happily turning pages. No slow parts.
6. It was fun to read. The banter kept me in stitches. The dialogue was sensational, the narrative perfect.
7. The writing was simply outstanding.
8. And I learned something ~ I had never before known of "ragged schools."
Clara and Raven met when she was trying to find a young boy who had been stolen from one of those ragged schools. And their story began.
I commend Ms. Chase not only for her brilliant writing but for her stellar research, as well.
This is a novel I highly recommend. In fact, I don't know what I'm going to read now that won't fall flat in comparison.
Enjoy your reading! :)
Clara’s wardrobe was dreadful, and the French-English Noirot sisters were determined to get her as a client for their dressmaker shop. They did obtain her patronage, but in the end Lady Clara refused to marry a man who wasn’t in love with her, and the duke married Marceline Noirot. Lady Clara was disappointed in love in Scandal Wears Satin, but pleased when her brother married Sophie Noirot. And in Vixen in Velvet Lady Clara plays a secondary role as her dowdy cousin Gladys falls under the Noirot sisters’ spell.
With impeccable politeness, Lady Clara simply demanded her own story, and Loretta Chase listened. In Dukes Prefer Blondes (unfortunately title, that), we learn that Lady Clara is much more than just another wealthy, beautiful young lady. She is intelligent and witty and she silently chafes under the oppressive rules of conduct to which ladies of that day were expected to adhere. She dreads becoming the wife of a man who wants her only for her beauty and her fortune. As she becomes resigned to this fate, however, she decides to perform one selfless service before coming under the dominion of some gentleman.
Lady Clara is a patroness of a charity run by the Noirot sisters which trains impoverished women for respectable work. One young woman is concerned about her younger brother, who has stopped attending school and disappeared; she fears he may have been forced into a criminal gang. Lady Clara vows to help her but has not the first idea how to go about it. Fenwick, the Noirot sisters’ pickpocket-turned-footboy suggests that she enlist the help of the eminent barrister Oliver Radford, known to all at the Old Bailey by his schoolboy nickname, “Raven.”
Raven Radford is the last man anyone would choose for Lady Clara Fairfax. Although he is the great-grandson of a duke, he is a commoner who earns his living as a barrister, a barely respectable occupation, given that he defends the dregs of society. He eschews meaningless social events and polite conversation. He knows that he is the smartest man in the room and has no use for fools. In fact, he is known for saying exactly what he thinks to any one at any time. He is passionate about his profession and not much else.
When a beautiful blonde lady strides into his office, he sees through the her frumpy disguise and remembers a dauntless eight-year-old girl who once defended him against his bullying cousin at a Vauxhall family outing. Raven was a schoolmate of Lady Clara’s older brother and of the odious cousin Bernard. To this day, Lady Clara has a chipped tooth where her mouth met Bernard’s elbow. For his part, “Beastly Bernard”, now the Duke of Malvern, has grown into a self-indulgent, utterly irresponsible drunk whom Raven detests.
Before Raven can dismiss Lady Clara for the useless lady he believes her to be, she takes charge of the situation, and by the end of the interview, where she matches him blow for verbal blow, Raven discovers a burgeoning respect for her. Against his better judgment, he finds himself helping her on her quest to find the missing boy.
And so, the first half of this wonderful book features Lady Clara and Raven meeting surreptitiously and doing all sorts of things that would give her mother the vapors. Clara, who wants passion but has never known it, begins to wonder if perhaps that is what she feels for Raven. And Raven, who has always avoided titled young ladies, discovers that he not only desires this lovely woman, he also admires her intellect, her determination, and her fearlessness in the face of his initial disdain.
Naturally, they fall in love but fear to admit it. Raven knows that they come from two different worlds and that neither would fit into the other’s. Nor would Lady Clara’s father ever consent to her marriage to a man could not begin to support the style of life she has always known.
In the end, Lady Clara has to force Raven to the point. Reminding him that she was raised to be a duchess, she declares:
“Perhaps I ought to marry Beastly Bernard,” she said before he could step far enough away from himself to fashion a rational sentence. “He sounds as though he needs someone like me desperately. Being despotic, I should not have much difficulty making something of him. In my experience, men like Bernard are not at all difficult to manage.”
Radford stared at her. It took a moment for his brain to connect to his tongue.
“Bernard,” he said.
“Yes,” she said. “He’s the duke in the family, is he not?”
As expected, Lord Warford does refuse Raven’s request to marry Lady Clara, but when Raven asks for a “fair trial” of the “charges” against him, her parents agree to listen. There they learn that not for nothing is he known as the leading barrister of the day. In a lovely scene, he delivers not only a strong defense of himself but also a stirring oration on behalf of letting Lady Clara be the woman she wants and needs to be. Finally, as Lady Warford reaches for the smelling salts, Lord Warford consents.
“’Mr. Radford is unsuitable on a wide array of counts,” the marquess said.
“Except the most important one,” Lord Warford went on. “He suits you, and you seem to suit him.’”
Loretta Chase is known for her witty banter between leading characters, and she puts her talent to excellent use here. But really, their conversations, while funny, are much more than banter. They actually listen to one another, and although each wants to get their own way, they demonstrate mutual respect and a desire to please the other. But it isn’t just all talk; the chemistry between them jumps off the page, and the wedding night scene is a classic.
In the second part of the book, while the couple adjusts to married life together, they are also put in danger by a band of criminals seeking revenge against Radford, and unexpected events in Radford’s family upend their lives. Some of the sexiness dissipates a bit, but it’s fun to watch them devise a true partnership where each is able to put their talents to the best use on behalf of the other.
As with the other Dressmaker books, clothes are important, and the outrageous fashions of the 1830s are described in loving detail. The Noirot sisters make a cameo appearance because of course Lady Clara must have the most fabulous wedding dress ever created. But really, this is Radford’s and Clara’s story, which means it works well even if you haven’t read the earlier books.
It is no surprise that the immensely talented Loretta Chase has produced another winner. Radford and Lady Clara are a perfect couple on many levels and reading their story was a joy. Dukes Prefer Blondes is highly recommended!