I was as surprised to find a Loretta Chase book in my TBR as you are. I think the original plan was to save the book for a Bad Day Read, but then the early buzz was mixed so I tossed it into the all purpose TBR bag. Then the Bad Day Read bag was empty. You see where I’m going with this. Rather like the moment when the mysterious orphan whips off her cloak to reveal a hereditary birthmark, a secret piece of jewelry, and a tattoo on her lower back reading “Your Lost Heiress” there was much rejoicing and disbelief.
Last Night’s Scandal has a tiny continuity error. There’s a moment late in the book where a scene has obviously been altered but it’s effect on subsequent events has not. As it appears in the book it is much stronger than it would have been in it’s other form, but the distraction remains. Acknowledging that, I still loved Last Night’s Scandal. To some extent Loretta Chase is a victim of her own success. When you’ve written some of the landmark books of the genre, everything else pales.
“Well sure” the reader thinks, “These are original characters that I feel I understand. Absolutely they have consistent internal logic, a true conflict and seem as though I know them. But it’s not as good as…” Other authors don’t have to meet that standard. If Last Night’s Scandal was by B.J. McHappenstance, I think I’d be hailing the new Genre Queen and Expecting Great Things and Raving Like a Loon. (Olivia, the heroine of Last Night’s Scandal writes like I do. It made me love her even more.) Instead the reaction is “Well, that was good.” And it was. It was very, very good indeed.
Olivia is bored in the confines of her life. An active mind in a beautiful body, she’s delighted when her best friend, the Earl of Lisle, returns from Egypt for a family event. They are the oldest of friends. Comfortable with each other, Olivia and Lisle perfectly portray that ease you have with someone you trust completely. For poor Lisle, Olivia has gone and become a girl. How can you act the same way with a girl? It’s a problem. His solution is to return to Egypt, but his parents have other plans. Before you can say Slacker Angst, Lisle has had the financial plug pulled on his dreams. Lisle is a pitch perfect despondent young man. He wallows, he whines (just a bit), he says “Parents!” in the sort of tone one uses. It’s up to Olivia to fix things, and her solution involves a trip to Scotland, a decaying castle, a hidden treasure and a… actually no. Not a wedding. Olivia isn’t interested in being Lisle’s rich bride or his benefactor. She’s his friend. She’s willing to consider friends with benefits, but she’s not looking to marry Lisle to make his life easier.
Here is what I really liked about Last Night’s Scandal. Olivia is the rare heroine who worries about the rest of her life. Sure she loves Lisle, he’s her best friend. That doesn’t mean they can make each other happy. Olivia actually takes the time to consider both their needs and the ability of either of them to meet them. I loved her. Lisle is just as wonderful. Together I could have read about them all night. From any other author this would be a book to exclaim over. From Loretta Chase, it’s just a good book.