Author: Loretta Chase
Publication: Avon; Original edition (June 28, 2011)
Description: From the Design Book of Marcelline Noirot:
The allure of the perfect gown should be twofold:
ladies would die to wear it . . .
and gentlemen would kill to remove it!
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 the ton, the Duke of Clevedon's intended bride? Winning the future duchess's patronage means prestige and fortune for Marcelline and her sisters. 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—but this time 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 an exquisite thread of silk . . .
My Thoughts: When I picked this up, I was looking for a light and fluffy book of historical fiction to use as a palate cleanser between more meaty books. That was not what I got! This story was wonderful. It was filled with intense emotion. It was also a very good look at what a rigid class structure is like.
Marcelline is in trade. While she has aristocratic ancestry, they were not the upstanding, honorable type of aristocrats. They were the black sheep of their families. She has been raised without moral code or scruples and is an excellent forger, liar, and actress. She is also a brilliant dress designer. When her parents, beloved cousin and husband die of cholera she travels to London with her two younger sisters and her daughter to make a life for herself and them. To be successful they need to attract aristocratic clients to their dress shop.
Marcelline travels to France to win the interest of the Duke of Clevedon so that he will have his intended bride buy her clothing from Marcelline's shop. Her intentions are purely mercenary as she sets out to fascinate and intrigue him. She isn't at all expecting to be fascinated and intrigued herself but Clevedon is more than she expects.
Clevedon is a typical historical romance hero. He is handsome, arrogant, spoiled and bored. But he is also intelligent and damaged by an unfortunate childhood.
These two people should never have met. They should never have fallen in love. Both will have to overcome major obstacles in order to be together. This story talks about the very real problems that come when a person marries outside of their class. The heroine states them very clearly. The hero manages to find a compromise.
This was an intense read with strong characters and an interesting story. The story is lightened by the antics of Marcelline's daughter Lucie who is a very charming and willful six-year-old who manages to wrap everyone around her fingers.
I recommend this one to lovers of historical romances. It was great!
"I was worried about you," he said. "When you left Paris so suddenly, I thought a catastrophe had occurred. Or a murder. Have you murdered anybody, by the way? Not that I would dream of criticizing, but--"I bought this on after Ilona Andrews recommended it on her blog. You can get your copy here.
"I left Paris to get away from you," she said.
"Well, that didn't work."