Not Quite a Lady / Loretta Chase. 2007

I have no idea how many Regency-set novels I’ve read over the years. Hundreds and hundreds at least. So here’s to an author who can take a well-worn concept and put it in fresh prose, and make me laugh when she does it. Describing Almack’s on p. 18 we read, “…Almack’s Assembly Rooms, to which only the cream of Society was admitted—for the meritorious purpose, it seemed to her, of confining excruciating boredom to a small, select circle.” Such are the delights of reading a Loretta Chase novel. But it’s not just her way with words, it’s her way with characters, too. I always feel as if her characters are well-drawn; we understand who they are and what motivates them. Ms. Chase also understands the era she writes about and I think her characters are, for the most part, true to that era.
Not Quite a Lady is the 4th and final installment in her linked series of books about the Carsington brothers. I have to say that Mr. Impossible remains my favorite, but I liked this one a lot. It was both touching and funny; any book that makes me both laugh and cry is a winner. I like a book that gives me an emotional rush and if it doesn’t, well then it’s just an average book. This one was definitely above average. While the stories are totally different, NQAL is similar to The Leopard Prince in that it plays off the stereotypical differences between men and women. Men are logical, rational, and analytical. Women are emotional and nurturing. Darius’ calm, logical approach to things is his trademark (although the word “logic” began to appear a little too frequently). Interestingly, Lady Charlotte strives to project the same sort of logical approach to life in order to keep her secrets safe. Only she becomes so rattled when she meets Darius (instant attraction), that she begins to let her guard down and as the book progresses, both we and Darius see her for the more emotional woman she really is. This book is really Charlotte’s journey.
SPOILER ALERT. One of the best parts of the book comes near the end when the “villain” (I hate to use that word because Col. Morrell isn’t evil, he’s just stuffy and controlling—probably rather typical of men of his era) confronts Charlotte about her son. Here’s a perfect opportunity for Charlotte to have a TSTL moment. Instead, what does she do? Why she goes straight to Darius so he can help her stand up to this problem. She trusts him! How novel, and refreshing, to have a heroine turn to the person who loves her. I wish we saw this more often. But one of the weaker parts of the book is the presumption that Charlotte will still be accepted into polite society because she has the backing of the Carsington family. I just can’t imagine it really would have been that easy. Although I don’t get the feeling that polite society meant so much to either Darius or Charlotte that they would care. But I think I would have liked to see that although Darius & Charlotte have a HEA, their road ahead would be bumpy. Nonetheless, still a fine read and rates a B+ from me.


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