Review: Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase (2015)

The Dressmakers Series, Book #4

Heat Factor: Emotional heat > sexual heat

Character Chemistry: Absolutely

Plot: An unequal match to fight for and a dastardly villain to fight against

Overall: This one might be a guilty pleasure

This here’s an interesting book. There are several I-can’t-contain-my-feelings swoon-worthy moments and exactly the sort of arrogant hero I most enjoy paired with a smart, competent heroine. There is also a thread throughout that is based on female intellect being less than male and (on top of that) based on feeling rather than logic. I really liked it, but I feel maybe not entirely sure that I should have on account of that thread.

The plot is predictable but well constructed: heroine on a mission approaches “the best” to aid her, they get into scrapes, they marry, they plan to capture the villain, HEA. The rest of the plot moves the story along very well but the fun aspect of this story is our protagonists. The heroine, Clara, is the most desired heiress in town but is not into it, and the hero, Raven Radford, is a really, really good barrister. The best, in fact, and one who will take cases because they be need to be taken and not because they’ll bring fame and fortune. He is a cousin of a Duke, but earns his living as sons of younger sons do, so it seems like an unequal match, except that they are well matched in intellect and temperament. Our protagonists met as children, but when they meet again as adults, Radford doesn’t immediately recognize Clara and assumes she’s an idiot (not entirely because she’s a woman–he thinks pretty much everyone is an idiot) and is immediately chagrined when she decides to put him in his place. He is intrigued, but it isn’t until they’re thrown together due to Clara’s crusade that sparks start flying.

Clara and Radford’s chemistry makes the book. I mentioned that thread of women-are-the-weaker-sex-intellectually, which is just ugh when it crops up, which (benefit of the doubt) is probably why Chase included it. Because most of the male characters sincerely believe it, too. With Clara and Radford’s relationship, therefore, a contrast is created because this thread tends to be (at least as I read it) more of a bantering acknowledgement that Radford was so wrong when he first made an assumption about Clara. For example, he jokes (or does he?) that she’s almost intelligent when she is being clever, but he falls in love with her brain, not her appearance. For her part, Clara plays a sort of managing female game so that she doesn’t bruise those poor, delicate male egos, and she really likes that Radford doesn’t treat her like an empty-headed twit. They both have above average intelligence  blended with a healthy dose of arrogance. And they play together and fight together with panache.

The banter felt normal in the context of the characters and their personalities, and it made the sexual chemistry believable. When Clara does something fantastically stupid (because crusade) and becomes deathly ill, Radford cares for her (because the doctor is incompetent, naturally) and compromises her in so doing. All along this path from crusade to illness, Chase builds and builds on little interactions, emotional more than physical, creating little frissions of anticipation, so when Radford finally loses his cool, it is marvelous. If you like that Darcy-esque I-want-but-I-don’t-want-to-want in a non Darcy-is-a-total-jerk sense (first proposal, of course), you might really enjoy this romance.

Buy Now: Amazon

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