TBR Challenge Review: Classic Beauty & the Beast

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Lord of Scoundrels (1995) has been in my TBR pile for years; it was one of the first books recommended to me when I started reading romance. (I’m pretty sure the first recommendation came from Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell, although others soon followed.) I read and enjoyed other books by Loretta Chase, but for some reason, I put this one off. But since this month’s challenge theme is fairytale stories, and this is very much Beauty and the Beast, I finally got around to it. (Although technically I didn’t read my TBR copy; I am recuperating from wrist surgery and can’t yet manage print books, so I snagged the discounted e-book for this review.)

The beauty character, Jessica, is more than just beautiful — she is intelligent, self-sufficient, practical and a good shot. She has a lot of experience with boys, having helped to raise many in her family, which gives her excellent insights about men. She isn’t afraid to take on the very intimidating Marquess of Dain in order to safeguard her interests and those of her family.

Dain, our beast, has renounced love of any kind after a miserable childhood without it. He is selfish to a fault and disdainful of other people, and he is not about to let Jessica claim victory once they have clashed. Chase gives the reader a lot from Dain’s point of view early on and throughout the novel; I never found him unsympathetic, even at his most beastly. Jessica attracts him, but he believes she must find him repulsive. I felt for him even when he pushed her away, and I could do that because I knew Jessica was strong enough to handle whatever he threw at her.

Dain is in way over his head emotionally with Jessica, while she is out if her depth physically. She can’t resist her sexual attraction to him, and her pragmatic responses to that realization are endearing. I just loved Jessica, and I was rooting hard for Dain to learn how to love her, too.

The best surprise out of this book was how funny it was. Dain and Jessica are well-matched banterers, both used to being the smartest person in the room and to using wit to prove it. The humor gives them a connection, because they each appreciate each other’s wit even when they are the target, and those encounters provide fabulous counterpoint to the emotionally charged process of overcoming Dain’s past. I enjoyed every page of this book, and I can imagine reading it again and again. WIN.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Phyl
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 04:54:09

    This is a fun book to read again and again. As a matter of fact, I read it again last weekend. I’m so glad you liked it, too. In my mind it truly deserves its reputation as a classic, although I know there are some who disagree.

    Reply

    • sonomalass
      Jul 20, 2011 @ 20:12:55

      No book is going to please every reader, but I agree that this one deserves its reputation. I think one reason I put it off was fear that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I am really glad I finally read it.

      Reply

  2. Amber
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 06:59:52

    I haven’t read this one yet. I know the majority of romance readers love it, though. One of these days…

    Reply

  3. KristieJ
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 18:26:32

    I love it when readers discover and love this book. There’s a reason it consistently comes in so high on polls and her name is Jessica. She really makes this book. Dain is a hoot yes, but Jessica just has it in spades! How many times have you read a book where the heroine shoots the hero and you want to applaud her? There are so many wonderful parts – when Dain finally realizes that Jess has given him the icon, his reasoning after he ‘beds’ her. When he finally gets that she is totally smitten with him and thinks he is gorgeous to look upon – just so many parts of this book make it the classic I think it truly is.

    Reply

    • sonomalass
      Jul 22, 2011 @ 19:24:22

      I agree. It’s funny, someone on Twitter who was also reading for the first time said that she didn’t love it because the heroine didn’t have a character arc, didn’t change or grow. But although I like that kind of story too, I thought this was wonderful.

      Reply

  4. Kim in Hawaii
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 08:15:43

    Sonomalass, you wrote in one of the comments, “No book will please every reader,” … well, I am part of the 1% of romance readers who did not enjoy this book (I’ve met a handful of others who tend to keep a low profile about this popular book).

    I “discovered” Loretta Chase through her Carsington Family Series. Wanting to read more, I sought out her backlist. I did not finish LOS – I thought the conflict (and humor) was forced. But it didn’t change my admiration of Ms Chase.

    A few years later, when LOS was repeatedlynamed as “10 Ten of Romances”, I tried to re-read it. Again, I did not finish it – I think the publc’s praise for it interfered with my ability to enjoy it.

    Still, I claim to be Ms. Chase’s only fan who has traveled to her two exotc locals in her books – Egypt and Albania!

    Reply

    • sonomalass
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 11:44:54

      Kim, I think most romance readers have at least one book that it seems “everyone likes it but me.” Mine is Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm. I like most of the other books of hers that I have read, but that one just doesn’t work for me.

      Reply

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