Monday, April 12, 2021

Loretta Chase - Not Quite a Lady

Darius Carsington is a spectacularly handsome rake with a rare intelligence and no heart, a man who divides his time between bedding loose-moraled women and writing scholarly papers. He finds society's "perfect darlings" exceedingly boring. But there's something intriguing, and not quite perfect, about faultless Lady Charlotte Hayward. He senses a crack under her polished surface, and finding it is a challenge he can't resist.
Lady Charlotte is so beautiful, charming, and gracious that no one has noticed what an expert she is at Not Getting Married. Early on, she learned a painful lesson about trust... and temptation. In the years since, she's devoted her life to being all she ought to be—and she's not about to let a man like Carsington entice her to do everything she shouldn't.
But the rules of attraction can easily overpower the rules of manners and morals, and sometimes even the best-behaved girl has to follow her instincts, even if it means risking it all.

Comment: This is the 4th installment in the Carsington series by Loretta Chase. I have had a good time reading these books but I should say this is more or less at the level I thought the first one was. Good but not as engaging the ones I liked best.

In this book we follow the story of Darius, the youngest son as he finally seems to grasp some stability in his life. As it happened with the others, he is unassumingly led by his father into happiness for he is given a choice of putting a propriety to rights or marry a heiress. This is how he meets Charlotte, the daughter of the neighbor to his new estate an their first meeting isn't the polite encounter one would wish for. They seem to clash at first but the more they get to know one another, the more in tune they become and the more they start admiring each other. However, Charlotte has a secret... could it be that their romance could be doomed fro the start?

As I have with the previous books, I liked these characters and I liked how they emotionally grow because of their shared experiences and because they become part of each other's lives. Like I said, I would put this book along the same lines - execution-wise - as the first. Meaning, I liked it but there was something missing to make it extra special, like I found books #2 and #3 to be.

I think my biggest issue with this book is that the romance, despite captivating, wasn't as romantic as I'd have liked. I can't exactly tell if due to the character's personalities or because the circumstances which made them interact weren't as smoothly inserted as thought happened in the previous two books. It just feels as if something isn't exactly right but I wasn't as fully engrossed in these two as I would have liked.

Darius is the youngest sibling and his story develops pretty much as the others, his father is an influent man and he wants his children to be settled in life. He makes a deal with Darius and that is how he is put in the way of Charlotte. I keep wondering how perfectly each sibling fell into his father's plans, after all, how could attraction and suitability be accomplished so hopefully, it's not as if the father could control how the relationships would go, but the reality is that it was precisely what happened. Darius is described as too focused on his studies and interests and womanizing, so not really husband material but of course we get to be aware of how incorrect this is when the matters the, we are given some insight into Darius' mind here and there and he does seem to be somewhat miscomprehended.

Charlotte, I should say, is the big focus of this novel. She had been mentioned in previous books as a potential suitor for Benedict (book #3) but nothing happened. We get to partially learn why for she wants to remain unmarried due to her big secret, which we are ware of from the start. I think she was a rather complex character but when we get to the end of the novel, some things just... I think the climax of this story wasn't as intense as it could, almost as if she self suffered for no big reason. I liked her personality, though, and I liked she and Darius made a complementary couple.

These two get to know one another well as the plot develops. They unite efforts to accomplish the improvement of Darius' new estate and they start sharing confidences. I think the idea they would be a good couple isn't the question and, in fact, I was glad they found each other, but everything felt rather easy and simple in how all the necessary details got to be in the right place so easily. I think the author thought about the overall idea of how this would play out but that special extra, the "magical" let's say so, flavor many of her novels ave, wasn't as obvious, or perhaps it just wasn't a conscious detail from her part to add.

I liked the book and I liked the (sadly, too few) references to other known characters, I liked how things worked out in the end, even though it wasn't as amazing as it could. I liked the fact the antagonist wasn't a villain per se, just someone with different views and goals. I wish we could have more on Darius' family connections and relationships... I suppose the next book might offer that since the main characters are known to us and the action will take place a few years down the road.

As for this one, it had good moments, good details, but it wasn't as deeply engrossing as I found other books by the author to be.
Grade: 7/10

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