Posted in: Karen's Capsule Reviews
Now my tastes don’t usually gel with Mrs G’s, but I figured that since I have enjoyed Loretta Chase’s books in the past I’d give it a go. Good job I did too.
Here’s the blurb from Ms Chase’s website:
Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot is London’s rising star. And who better to benefit from her talent than the worst-dressed lady in London; the Duke of Clevedon’s intended bride? Winning the future duchess’s patronage means prestige and fortune for Marcelline and her family. To get to the lady, though, Marcelline must win over Clevedon, whose standards are as high as his morals are…not.
The prize seems well worth the risk. This time, though, Marcelline’s met her match. Clevedon can design a seduction as irresistible as her dresses; and what begins as a flicker of desire between two of the most passionately stubborn charmers in London soon ignites into a delicious inferno . . .and a blazing scandal.
And now both their futures hang by a thread of silk…
The book starts with a prologue telling the tale of how Marcelline Noirot’s scandalously corrupt and amoral parents first met, and I was pretty much hooked from this point.
What I Liked About Silk Is For Seduction
ABSOLUTELY FREAKING EVERYTHING.
The heroine was fantastic, the hero was great, the chemistry between the two protagonists was sizzling, the plot was fascinating, the book was informative and seemed to be extremely well-researched. All the secondary characters were integral to the book, which was a nice change-up from the norm. And I loved, loved loved Marcelline’s daughter, Lucie.
Marcelline is definitely the best heroine that I’ve come across in a very long time. As a borderline feminist, she was everything that I longed to see in a romance heroine. She was feisty, without being utterly stupid, clever and conniving, without being cruel and obnoxious, witty and sarcastic, without being hurtful and cutting. Her character was so multi-layered, that watching it unravel was a fascinating process for me.
I loved her self-confidence and deep belief that she truly was the “greatest modiste in all the world”.
She was absolutely a force of nature who would literally stop at nothing to get what she wanted. I loved her honesty and sheer grit in the face of adversity, and most of all, I loved how well she brought Clevedon to his knees, and bested him at every opportunity, whilst openly acknowledging that she was merely using him so that she could dress the future Duchess of Clevedon. After all, what better way to guarantee the success of her dress shop, than to have her designs worn by the nobility?
Marcelline, referred to by Clevedon as “Noirot” throughout the book, (she hadn’t bothered telling him her first name, a fact which amused me no end for some reason) and Clevedon’s repartee with each other was always amusing to witness. Here’s a great example of the way their conversations generally went. This scene is taken from their second meeting:
“He made his way through the crowd to her side. “Madame Noirot”
“Ah there you are” she said. “Exactly the man I wished to see.”
“I should hope so” he said “considering you invited me.”
“Was it an invitation?” she said. I thought it was a broad hint.”
“I wonder if you hinted the same to everyone at the Italian Opera. They all seem to be here.”
“Oh no” she said. “I only wanted you. They’re here because it’s the place to be seen. Longchamp. Passion Week. Everyone comes on holy pilgrimage to see and be seen. And here am I, on display.”
“A pretty display it is” he said. “And exceedingly modish it must be, judging by the envious expressions on the women’s faces. The men are dazzled, naturally–but they’re no use to you I daresay.”
“It’s a delicate balance” she said. “I must be agreeable to the men, who pay the bill. But it’s the ladies who wear my clothes. They wont be eager to patronize my shop if they see me as a rival for the attentions of their beaux.”
“Yet you dropped me a broad hint to come to you and seek you out in this mob” he said.
“So I did” she said. “I want you to pay some bills.”
It was yet again the last thing he expected. This time he was not amused. His body tensed, and his temperature climbed, and it had nothing to do with desire. “Whose bills?”
“The ladies of your family she said.”
He could hardly believe his ears. He said, his jaw taught, “My aunts owe you money, and you came to Paris to dun me?”
“Their ladyships your aunts have never set foot in my shop” she said. “That’s the problem. Well, one of the problems. But they’re not the main issue. The main issue is your wife.”
“I don’t have a wife”. He said.
“But you will” she said. “And I ought to be the one to dress her. I hope that’s obvious to you by now.”
They had many conversations like this, and they were always a pleasure to read. She was so direct, without the usual lack of self esteem and insecurity issues that seem to beset the typical romance heroine. It was just such a refreshing change.
The secondary characters all had their parts to play, which was great. I’m assuming that the other sisters will have their own stories in future books, but I have to say, it was great getting to know them in Silk Is For Seduction.
What Made Me Want To Stab Myself In The Eye
The fact that it had to end.
Silk Is For Seduction was one of those rare books that I just didn’t want to end. As I got closer to the final pages of the story, I kept anxiously scanning the remaining pages, regretting that this marvellous historical romance was going to soon come to an end for me. That hasn’t happened in quite a while, and that’s a testament to Loretta Chase’s fantastic writing, her beautifully fleshed out cast, and of course, the indomitable Marcelline Noirot. If you’re looking for a book that hooks you in, and doesn’t let you go until the bitter end, run, don’t walk to buy this book. You wont be sorry. (And if you are, tell it to somebody who cares, because I will simply assume that all your taste is in your mouth.)