Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Silk Is for Seduction by Loretta Chase

Dear Ms. Chase:

“He truly did love her. After all she’d told him. He truly believed she could do anything.”

That’s an amazing showing of love.  He believed she could do anything.  The Duke of Clevedon falls so in love with Marcelline Noirot, shopkeeper, that he believed she could convince the entire world that they belonged together.  Or at least the entirety of the world that mattered.  And if she could not? Then to hell with the world.

But alas, I get ahead of myself.

silk is for seduction loretta chaseMarcelline Noirot is the eldest of three sisters who came to England young and nearly penniless.  They have spent years trying to build up their fashion house, Maison Noirot, but have not yet broken into the ton where the leaders of fashion reside. Determined to change their fortunes, Marcelline hunts down the Duke of Clevedon when society papers indicate that he is readying to return to England to marry his childhood friend, Lady Clara Fairfax.  Clevedon was fostered in the Clara’s household after his drunken father died.  Yet, when it was suggested to Clevedon it was time to marry Clara he ran away abroad and took his best friend, Clara’s brother, Longmore, with him.

It’s time to come up to scratch.

From the moment that Clevedon meets Marcelline, it is over for him.  And regrettably, Marcelline is nearly struck dumb by Clevedon as well. It is not her intention because no dressmaker will be successful if it is known that she seduces the gentlemen.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t made uncomfortable about this set up.  Clevedon is promised to Lady Clara.  He is supposed to marry her.  Yet, his sole focus is on getting Marcelline in bed.  The idea of pre marital fidelity doesn’t really enter his mind.  What’s interesting about this is that the scandal wouldn’t affect Lady Clara so much as it would affect Clevedon.  They aren’t betrothed and Lady Clara is beautiful, wealthy and comes from a titled and important family.

They’d seen Lady Clara Fairfax on several occasions. She was stunningly beautiful: fair-haired and blue-eyed in the classic English rose mode. Since her numerous endowments included high rank, impeccable lineage, and a splendid dowry, men threw themselves at her, right and left.

Marcelline wants this marriage to happen though because Lady Clara would be a magnificent advertisement for the Maison Noirot and if Clevedon doesn’t marry Lady Clara, then it may be years before he gets married and maybe to someone who is only half as magnificent as Lady Clara.

And frankly, this story couldn’t be told any other way.  Clevedon is a rotter.  He’s a feckless, selfish man who flits through life with no purpose but to enjoy one pleasure after the other.

“For clothes,” he said. “Does it not strike you as absurd, to go to such lengths, when English women, as you say, are oblivious to style? Why not give them what they want?”

“Because I can make them more than what they want,” she said. “I can make them unforgettable. Have you drifted so far beyond the everyday concerns of life that you can’t understand? Is nothing in this world truly important to you, important enough to make you stick to it, in spite of obstacles? But what a silly question. If you had a purpose in life, you would give yourself to it, instead of frittering away your days in Paris.”

He should have realized she’d strike back, but he’d been so caught up in her passion for her dreary work that she took him unawares. An image flashed in his mind of the world he’d fled—the little, dull world and his empty days and nights and the pointless amusements he’d tried to fill them with. He recalled Lord Warford telling him, You seem determined to fritter away your life.

He felt an instant’s shame, then anger, because she’d stung him.

Marcelline is the opposite of Clevedon. Oh, she has just as few scruples, but she is focused, dedicated and purposeful.  She has to be. She has a young daughter and two younger sisters. This dreary existence Clevedon so readily insults makes sure that none of the Noirots are selling their bodies on the streets.

Through Marcelline we are shown both how women can triumph but how hard it is for them to achieve independence and most importantly respect.

Clevedon becomes a better person, one with a focus in his life, and that is to make Marcelline’s life easier, happier, safer.  Even though Clevedon and Clara had been friends forever, the reader is shown that Clevedon would not fulfill the promise of the man he could be in Clara’s arms and even better, we are shown that Clara deserves someone who loves her without reservation. (Her set down of Clevedon is magnificent).

At the start of every chapter, there are excerpts from what I assume are books you used as research and I thought it was a brilliant way to provide authenticity and historical context for the story.

I also thought this is a book that could have been a great enhanced book. I would have loved to have seen sketches of some of the amazing dresses or even sewing tips on how make a certain type of bodice or the difference between blond lace and cotton lace (blond lace is not blond in color but a reference to the fabric (silk) of the lace).

All of the characters sing in this story from the seamstresses to the sisters.  There is not one character that appears who did not have a purpose, who did not add something important to the scene, to the overall story arc. This story is full of passion and it’s not just passion between the characters but its Marcelline’s passion for women, her desire to make them magnificent, to imbue them with confidence and instill in them a presence.  I came away from this book thinking that this author, you, really love women and you are writing books to make women feel proud of themselves.  B+*

Best regards,

Jane

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
| Sony| KoboBooks

*So why my B+?  Because in the overall pantheon of amazing Loretta Chase books, this is not my favorite and so I’m giving it a B+ not because I can pinpoint any imperfections but because as great as it is, I love other Chase books more.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

36 Comments

  1. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 05:19:29

    Oh,Jane. Don’t be stingy. A- if you must quibble. This was a wonderful story with such a vivid, unusually strong heroine who won me over despite her being French. I have a French ex-daughter-in-law, and she’s ruined the whole country for me, I’m afraid. Chase is pretty much a genius if she can get me to forget her.

  2. joanne
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 07:00:38

    Before anyone says anything about a Duke marrying a seamstress: I don’t care. I Loved this book.

    *and I agree with the grade. When an author continually writes wonderful books we start to rate them in comparison to each other rather than to other books.

    I particularly like that the ‘other woman’ in this story was given a very positive spin AND a wonderfully dramatic exit.

    I’m not big on children in romance stories but the Princess Erroll is all that she could be to entrance a Duke.

    For drees sketches and other tidbits, Lorretta Chase has her TWO NERDY HISTORY GIRLS blog with everything- from head to toe and into the dining room- but beware that time will slip away while you look around there.

    Thanks Jane.

  3. Las
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 07:22:16

    This sounds really good. I really hated LoS so if that’s the book SifS is getting compared to then there’s a good chance I’ll like this one.

  4. Keishon
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 07:24:31

    J, may I ask what other Chase titles did you love outside of Lord of Scoundrels? Which stories epitomize her best work do you think? I don’t know why she doesn’t work for me only that I just haven’t found the right story to hook me yet and I will keep trying because she seems like the kind of author I should like. I still have the best friends to lover book she wrote (argh title escapes me) that you enjoyed as well. Thanks.

  5. Chelsea
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 07:26:45

    Oh I’m so excited that this is getting positive reviews! I did that thing I’m not supposed to do and bought it without really knowing anything about it. I’ve never read anything by Loretta Chase before, so I’m looking forward to this one.

  6. ksb36
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 09:42:55

    I read somewhere that Loretta Chase says she writes about women she would like to be: beautiful, courageous, witty, sensual, sharp as a tack. She’s my number one autobuy, because even if I like some books better than others, I know I will always find a heroine that I admire at the center.

  7. Lynn S.
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 09:58:16

    It’s a July release apparently so all my June anxiety was for nothing. I’m reading this right now and so far I’m enjoying it. At this point it’s reminding me somewhat of Your Scandalous Ways.

    @Keishon: Not Jane but, since I have absolutely nothing to do at work today, I’ll throw in some possibilities and start by stating I don’t understand all the undying Lord of Scoundrels devotion. It’s a good book, but far from my favorite by Chase. Like I was telling someone the other day, Dain is a dolt and not in the good way that Rupert Carsington is a dolt. I adore Chase but find that she maintains a certain distance from the characters in her books which I can see being a problem for some readers in engaging with her as an author. Top three for me: Knave’s Wager, Miss Wonderful, and Your Scandalous Ways.

  8. Christine Rimmer
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 11:06:06

    What @Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe: said. Sounds like a solid A to me! I’m gettin’ it.

  9. Moth
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 11:45:00

    @Keishon: I’ll throw in my two cents worth too. Mr. Impossible is my favorite Chase book. Hands down. I LOVE Rupert. LOVE him.

    Followed by Your Scandalous Ways and then Lord of Scoundrels. The Last Hellion is good, too. I like it when she skews toward the lighter side of things. I’m not one who likes too much angst in my romance and sometimes she gets a little too heavy, too wallowy-.

  10. Keishon
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 11:51:17

    @Lynn S.: Hi Lynn,

    I appreciate your response. I actually read Your Scandalous Ways and didn’t like it much either (sorry!). I marginally enjoyed Lord of Scoundrels but that title seems to be #1 on just about everyone’s best romance ever list (and nothing wrong with that). I think you nailed it for me as for why she doesn’t work for me. I plan to try an earlier book of hers and see how I like it. Thanks.

  11. Keishon
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 11:53:15

    @Moth: Thanks! that’s the title I’m going to read actually.

  12. Keishon
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 11:55:01

    Just to throw it out there, I am a big fan of Judith Ivory. You would think Chase would be similar but that is not the case for me.

  13. Las
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 12:09:45

    @Lynn S.: “At this point it’s reminding me somewhat of Your Scandalous Ways.”

    Now I’m convinced…I’ll definitely be reading this one! Your Scandalous Ways was the first Chase book I read and I loved it so much that I didn’t completely write Chase off after reading Lord of Scoundrels (yes, I thought it was THAT bad).

  14. Janine
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 12:18:46

    @Keishon: Lord of Scoundrels isn’t my favorite either. I don’t understand the hoopla there. My favorites are the Carsington books, which are best read in order and IMO get better with each book. The series is:


    Miss Wonderful
    Mr. Impossible
    Lord Perfect
    Not Quite a Lady
    Last Night’s Scandal

    ETA: Even though Last Night’s Scandal is quite possibly my favorite Chase of all, I wouldn’t recommend reading it first. There’s a lot of background on the main characters in Lord Perfect, which is where you see them meet and their relationship begin to develop.

  15. Amanda
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 12:53:59

    Jane, I agree with you: I really adored this book, but it wasn’t my favorite Chase novel. Lord of Scoundrels, or perhaps Mr. Impossible top my list. Regardless, it remains a fact that Loretta Chase is, simply, a Master!

  16. EmilyW
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 14:45:13

    LOS is one of my favorites but Lord Perfect is close behind. I love me a road romance and this is one of the best.

  17. Ros
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 14:57:42

    Miss Wonderful, Mr Impossible and especially The Last Hellion are my favourite Chase books. But I’d give any of hers a go if [insert rant about geographical restrictions here].

  18. infinitieh
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 15:41:16

    My favorite is “Lord Perfect” although I loved the P. G. Wodehouse references in “Not Quite a Lady”.

  19. Sandia
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 16:16:33

    My favorite Chase is The Last Hellion… I read it a while after Lord of Scoundrels but it prompted me to go back and re-read. My second reading is when I realized why LOS is so beloved….it can be read and re-read again and again, and I feel like each time, I’m getting something different out of it.

    I loved “Silk is for Seduction” though. I thought it was well written and I’m excited to see more stories about the “Dreadful Deluceys”!

  20. Jennie
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 17:34:40

    I was definitely planning on getting this book at some point, since I really like Chase, but you’ve moved it up on my TBB list – I am sort of a sucker for across-the-tracks romances, and romances where the heroine focuses the hero so he can grow and change (both concepts can be problematic, but when done well they really work for me).

  21. Las
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 18:15:17

    I just read the first two chapters in B&N and I’m sold.

    And I know it can’t happen, but I’d love a prequel featuring the heroine’s parents. The description of them in the prologue enchanted me.

  22. Sandra
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 18:57:47

    @Las: And I know it can’t happen, but I’d love a prequel featuring the heroine’s parents. The description of them in the prologue enchanted me.

    I was hooked from the first paragraph of the prologue. I imagine the parents’ story would be something along the lines of Janet Mullany’s “A Most Lamentable Comedy”. Hopefully, we’ll get more backstory, since Chase seemed to be setting the sisters (and Clara, please) up for their own books.

    I really liked the way she wrote Marcelline. Just jumped right into her current circumstances. There’s so much we learn about her as Clevedon learns it. The casual way her daughter’s first mentioned; the ambiguity about her last name (Had she married? Was Lucie born out of wedlock? If she was married, where was her husband?). Even her thoughts on sex imply that she’s more experienced than she actually was.

    I think this one will rank right up with my favorite Chase’s.

  23. etv13
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 20:09:48

    A lot of Chase feels to me like 30′s movie comedies, with a sort of intelligent battle-of-the-sexes vibe in at least the early scenes between the hero and heroine.

    LynnS #7: I don’t think Rupert Carsington is a dolt at all. He’s not a brilliant scholar like Daphne, but he’s intelligent enough that a fair amount of his classical education has stuck, he’s in prison at the beginning for doing a good deed, and (this is the clincher for me) he teaches Daphne to shoot.

    Keishon #12: It would never occur to me to compare Chase to Ivory. They just don’t feel the same at all to me.

  24. njoireading
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 10:07:04

    I have to agree; this was a really good book but…..I like other books that Ms Chase has written more, especially Last Night’s Scandal.

  25. Jane
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 10:10:34

    @Las Robin said it reminded her of Your Scandalous Ways too.

  26. Jane
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 10:11:26

    @Keishon I would go with the other recommendations such as Mr. Impossible.

  27. cleo
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:23:33

    Good review – I agree with the grade. I liked this book, but it didn’t grab me the way some of her other books have – I didn’t love LoS either (I didn’t think Dane deserved Jessica) but I love, love Miss Wonderful and Mr Impossible. Mr Impossible made me a Chase fan.

    I have a minor complaint about SifS that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere – the sisters’ hair color. Marcelline is brunette, and she has two sisters, one blonde and one with red hair. Really? This seems to be common with fictional sisters, but not (in my experience anyway) with real sisters or sibs. I was surprised Loretta Chase did it.

  28. kiahzoe
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 16:37:09

    re: the sister’s hair color – I think Marcelline mentions somewhere that she’s not altogether sure that her sisters have the same father as she does. It’s a throwaway remark but it makes clear that her mother may not have always been faithful – and in fact both parents may have from time to time used their sexuality as part of the scams they ran. So she is giving herself wiggle room here.

  29. Patti
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 17:41:44

    I love Loretta Chase and I will read anything she writes. No wasted words, scenes or characters. Plus she is so smart and funny.I liked this book very much. Time will tell if it’s one of my favorites of hers. What really sets her apart (and other great authors) is that I remember so much about the stories they write. I also really remember the characters.
    As for the hair color, I have three children and when they were younger, they were blonde, brunette and red headed! Now my blonde is dishwatery and the red head more auburn. Plus, we have no redheads in our family. Go figure :-)

  30. Lynn S.
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 20:03:29

    Back again having just finished reading the book and I’m with Jane on the B+ rating. It’s Loretta Chase, so of course it’s well written, entertaining, and worth reading. But there’s that something missing which I had all plans of calling je ne sais quoi but then Clevedon swooped in and stole the French right out from under me, that rascal. The first part did remind me of Your Scandalous Ways but then I started being reminded of Lord Perfect and, honestly, I’ve never had that experience with her books before. They always have that Chaseian verve but I’ve never felt such noticeable similarities to past works. A little different than I’m used to with Chase but the ending was delightfully romantic.

    And why no poussièrie dress on the cover. If ever a dress screamed out cover art, that one did. The book is centered on fashion and do we get a cover featuring one of the richly-imagined dresses of the book? No, we get unadorned hot-pink fluff and a blow up of wallpaper for a background.

  31. SAO
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 01:28:44

    Knave’s Wager is my favorite and all other Chases have disappointed me slightly in not matching up.

  32. Jane
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 07:24:16

    @SAO I barely remember that book. I’ll have to go and re-read.

  33. Jane’s Best of 2011 List | Dear Author
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 12:09:07

    [...] Silk Is for Seduction by Loretta Chase.  You can tell by this book how much Chase admires her fellow woman.  She praises their ingenuity, their toughness, their ability to survive and matches those strong, capable women with swoon worthy heroes.  Because she can. [...]

  34. Christopher
    May 27, 2012 @ 00:22:11

    Thanks for the detailed review. I have a copy of Scandal Wears Satin in front of me, and I was trying to decide if I should read Silk is for Seduction first. But- as with you – the idea of premarital infidelity is not something I’m comfortable with, and I think it’s going to be a dealbreaker for me.

  35. Jane
    May 27, 2012 @ 10:13:21

    @christopher – This one worked for me, but honestly the Scandal Wears Satin did not. I’ll be interested in hearing what you think.

  36. Christopher
    May 27, 2012 @ 17:03:05

    Hey Jane:
    It didn’t work for me as well, and I gave up after about half the book. I enjoyed the frequent humor, even if it was at the expense of my gender ;). But there was hardly anything in terms of romance development. The characters were half in love (or at least lust) from page one. I also found myself unable to respect the main characters much.
    What about it bothered you?

%d bloggers like this: