Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Loretta Chase - Last Night's Scandal

After surviving the perils of Egypt, Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle is back in London, facing the most dire threat of all: his irrational family....and Miss Olivia Wingate-Carsington. A descendent of notorious—but very aristocratic—swindlers, the delectable redhead has the ability to completely unhinge him, and a long history of dragging him into her scandalous schemes.
Olivia may be Society's darling, but she's aware a respectable future looms menacingly. And so when Lisle is forced to go on a family mission, she sees this as the perfect chance for one last adventure—even if it is with the one man in the world she can't wrap around her finger: but really, she only wants to help…
Which is why Lisle and Olivia find themselves in a gloomy Scottish castle inhabited by spiteful ghosts and craven murderers...and a shocking secret: the greatest peril of all may be burning within their own stubborn hearts.

Comment: This is the last installment in the Carsington brothers series, although none of the protagonists is a Carsington sibling. However, they are familiar characters, for they were an integral part of the plot on book #3, being the motivation behind some events. Olivia and Peregrine (now know as Lisle, from his title) were children on an adventure on that book but now, years later, they are grown ups and this is their romance, which tidily wraps up the series...

In this final book, Olivia and Lisle finally come face to face after so much time apart, since Lisle has been in Egypt for most of his life. The last time they had been together was five years prior, because of one of the many family events . Now the reason is the same, the birthday of the oldest member of their family, but neither is prepared to see in the other someone they only thought of as a childhood friend. Five years is a lot when so much physical changes occur and the reaction they both have confuses them. Still, they have been best friends since they were children and met on a museum and have been corresponding all these years, sharing each other's thoughts and cementing their friendship. However, are they ready to finally realize there's more than just friendship between them?

This is a fine last book in a series. It provides closure to several things, it tidies the loose threads one might have thought about while reading the other books and it allowed the reader to go on one last adventure with these characters. In fact, if there is one major critique I'd have about all the books - but especially so in this one - is the lack of scenes between family members. They only happened in the key moments and were not lengthy. I suppose many can say it wasn't necessary but I like the feel of united families caring for their members and would have liked to see it more often.

I believe that would have the cherry on top in this book, because the reference to this and that about one or two people just wasn't enough for me. I'd have liked to see more demonstrations of family love or, at least, in a more obvious manner. I understand the focus had to be on Olivia and Lisle but a bit more about how the others have been doing would have been good too.

The plot isn't too complicated, as per the author's style, there's adventure and confusing feelings running through our protagonists until they go past their own doubts and just admit they care for one another far more deeply than just the letters exchanging would have let them realize. There's a task Lisle feels he has to do, regarding a family state in Scotland, which propels the development of he plot but it was a nice touch that part of it involves a journey, so a romance on the road is a nice way to link who they are now with how they became friends as children.

I won't go into any details about it, but let it be said there are plenty of shenanigans, fun moments, silly scenes and some mild misunderstandings and pining. I suppose it's quite obvious fro the reader Lisle and Olivia would have to end up together but I admit the way things are written felt rather too strong in trying to convince us they had to be a couple, or that they could only ever be one. That should be easy, should be natural but we are sort of forced to see it that way. I think the scenes they share where we could see that are too often on the underdeveloped side, barely touching  the complex emotions they had to be feeling.

I guess this is what disappointed me a little here, I wanted their romance to be the perfect peak of the series, the best love story ever, with their history and family background, which has been set up practically since book #1. I wanted more deep conversations, more moments where they would see one another as how hey really felt, and perhaps that the sexual side of things would be delayed even more, so that it would be like a reward for all those feelings instead of another complication in the midst of all the confusing things they felt for one another. They are characters in their 20s, we are told they have dealt with proposals by other people (in the sense they could have been in relationships) but they behave like teenagers. I would have liked to see more emotional complexity, yes.

Nevertheless, despite the things I'd change, I still liked reading about them and how their personalities evolved from how they behaved when we met them, how they became good people, even among all the ridiculous situations they saw themselves in while going to Scotland and after being there. I'd say this book means more to me due to the sentimental value because of the whole atmosphere the author created than because of the romance, which I think could have been better.
Grade: 7/10

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