Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Perfect 10: YOUR SCANDALOUS WAYS by Loretta Chase

A Perfect 10
ISBN: 978-0-06-123124-7
June 2008
Historical Romance
Venice, September 1820

James Cordier performs one last service before retiring to England to enjoy the considerable fortune gained over a decade and a half as a spy. He successfully seduces the beautiful but cold-hearted Marta Fazi in Rome and steals back a set of fabled emeralds to be returned to their rightful, royal owners -- all for king and country, of course. James is a younger son of an earl by his second wife, an Italian lady of noble family. He was recruited in his teens after being sent to the army for his wild ways. But his return to England is delayed when he's ordered to once again use his renowned good looks and charm -- he's tall, well built, with blue eyes set off by dark curls -- to retrieve certain letters from an English lady in Venice.

Francesca Bonnard entered marriage very much in love and full of youthful ideals...until she was betrayed by the men in her life. It took little time before John Bonnard ran through her fortune and turned to other women. When her father was revealed as a swindler, Bonnard smeared Francesca's name and divorced her. Disgraced and heartbroken, Francesca left England and is now the most celebrated courtesan in Europe...a very exclusive, very high-priced courtesan. It pleases Francesca greatly that her living so well infuriates her ex-husband.

James rents a palazzo across the canal from Francesca's, then uses his talents for disguise to observe her closely, now as a servant at the opera, again as a bearded Spanish gigolo. One evening, as Francesca travels home in her gondola after parting from her good friend Giulietta, she's accosted and attacked by two men in a boat. Luckily, James had been watching that boat and is a strong swimmer; he saves Francesca's life. It seems John Bonnard -- an ambitious man who recently bought a title and has his eye on the prime minister's office -- hired Marta Fazi to steal back treasonous letters that Francesca took from his desk. And he doesn't care how she does it.

YOUR SCANDALOUS WAYS can be exciting and suspenseful, humorous and sensuous in turn. The story is unusual, the plot cleverly contrived, but best of all, the characters are delicious. Francesca is all that is admirable, no matter her profession. She didn't descend into the gutter as Bonnard hoped she would. Instead, she uses her beauty and sharp wits to survive in the only way open to her. She's a good friend to Giulietta -- who is also a courtesan, if less exclusive -- and kind to a young, wholly enraptured crown prince of an obscure kingdom. She enjoys the freedom of being mistress of her own fate. How her meeting with James Cordier will affect that life remains to be seen.

James lost his trust in man's goodness at twenty-one during the year of torture he spent in a French prison. Ten years later, he looks forward to retirement at home. But before he can do that, he's in danger of becoming more and more entangled with Francesca Bonnard, whose name is anathema in England.

Terrific scene setting that brings Venice to life and smart dialogue that makes you a participant, together with captivating characters, stimulating wit and love scenes, make YOUR SCANDALOUS WAYS worthy of a rare Perfect 10. Book after book, Loretta Chase truly earns the high regard of her fans.

Jane Bowers

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I LOVE that cover!!
Can't wait to read it!