What I love about Loretta Chase is that she breaks convention – she does things not many other authors are willing to do, and she does it well. Many historical romance novels have an innocent, pure heroine with a wicked rake who gets turned on by her naïveté and falls for her genuine openness during their frequent lovemaking. I would not yet consider myself a great connoisseur of romance novels, but I have had my fair share of reads. I have yet to encounter a romantic heroine who was a courtesan (I mean a REALLY good one). I have now.
Francesca Bonnard is the ex-wife of Lord Elphick, and instead of falling into ruin and financial despair (as expected) she becomes one of the most respected and well paid courtesans on the Continent. James Cordier works for the English government as a spy/jewelry thief/whatever-else-they-need-at-the-moment. He has been hired by the government to travel to
, where Francesca is, and retrieve some letters she has in her possession – letters incriminating Lord Elphick. However, as explained thoroughly in the book, he cannot acquire them simply by asking - and even with vigerous searching he cannot find them. What is a man to do, but seduce? Yes, what follows their meeting is a romantic, witty journey, filled with the classic Loretta humor. Venice
Francesca and James spend most of their time dancing around the fact that they both want one another. Each, in their arrogant way, believes that they know exactly how to entice the other because (obviously) they know EVERYTHING about the other gender from their vast experience. They tease and taunt with delicious, luxurious skill until, suddenly, they find themselves as lovers that truly love one another, despite all fears and insecurities (and there are plenty). Amazing.
All the while, an evil force sent by Elphick threatens Francesca’s security, and she finds herself often in danger. But we definitely see the survivor in Francesca, because she tackles the pain, hurt and fear better than a linebacker on a McDonald’s diet. She squashes her troubles beneath her proud, courageous, firm, beautifully clad heel and doesn’t let up until they’re well and truly ground out of her life. Of course, having James’s help is nice, too.
My favorite part of the book? The first time they make love… is beautiful. *Sigh* Venice is truly the perfect setting and Loretta uses it to her full advantage.
“A hundred words for bad girls like us, but what is a man courtesan?” (Giulietta)
“A penniless aristocrat.” (Francesca)
“No, killing me would spoil his fun.” (Francesca)
“And dying would spoil yours, I reckon.” (James)
“Sexy”ness rating: Sweet and Spicy!
Overall Rating: A
Bottom Line: As long as you have an open mind, as far as Francesca being a courtesan goes, you'll love every minute of this book!
Published: May 27, 2008