Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Review: Captives of the Night - Loretta Chase


If you've read the blurb you know that this is a romantic mystery where Leila Beaumont is trying to find out  who killed her father almost a decade ago and who is responsible for the recent death of her husband. Of course, she can't help but be tempted by the spy assigned to help her, Comte d'Esmond.

What you don't know is that Captives of the Night isn't a quite like any other romance novel I've ever read before. It's a historical and it features a so called bad boy with a heart of gold, and those are things I love, but for a good part of the story the heroine spends married to someone other than the apparent love of her live. What's more curious, is that she freely admits having once loved her abusive and vile husband. 

It's a delightfully realistic take on two people finding each other and giving themselves a second chance in happiness. Not everyone finds and marries the love of their live at seventeen and spend the rest of their lives together. There's a slight problem, though.

How does an author stop the heroine from becoming a contemptible doormat to an abusive husband while turning her into a possible adulteress and keep her relatable to an average romance reader? 

The answer is, she doesn't. At least, Chase didn't. She made the Leila Beaumont into a violent tempered shrew who can stand up to her morally corrupt husband and and whose tantrums lead to her being the suspect in her husband's murder. And that's how Chase handled the second part of her dilemma. Getting rid of an unwanted balls in chain (pun intended) was the only way for the true romance to move on. 

I call it a true romance because it isn't magically easy. Both Esmond and Leila fight their attraction for each other instead of giving into their insta-lust. The sex part still comes quite early for an historical novel, but at least it follows a decent seduction. I'd almost given up on the hope of reading scene something as innocuous as a good look at a man's hands can raise the temperature of the room. It shouldn't come as a huge surprise then that this book was written and originally published in the early 1990's. As much as I don't miss the euphemisms, I do miss the sensual seductions that used to precede outright sex in romantic fiction.

I liked the fact that as imperfect and infuriating as both characters were, they were evenly matched. Their flaws and strengths complemented each other. Admittedly, Esmond had the advantage of his gender and the laws of the era to help him, but I also felt he was cunning enough to handle Leila when needed to, just as she was stubborn enough to demand the truth and trust he so reluctantly bestowed to anyone.

All this I liked, the story, the writing, and I liked the mystery too, which managed to surprise me to a certain extent. Also, I'm valiantly ignoring all the bad, bad, words like female, core, and a host of others I've managed to forget since reading the book. So, why then, isn't my rating higher?

I simply didn't like certain aspects of the book. Not only was I bored for the longest periods, I found myself baulking at how certain things were handled and how much attitudes have changed in twenty years. It has to do with the dead husband's vices and how those were described. I appreciate the historical accuracy of such attitudes, but I can't help but feel that another author writing today would have chosen his or her words differently especially when describing someone as tolerant as Comte d'Esmond talking or thinking about the matter. 

Rating: 3




Series: Scoundrels #2
Pages:      352 (paperback)
Published: Originally 1994
Source: Anachronist

28 comments:

  1. "Balls in chain" - lol. I like the mystery part, but if a lot of the story was boring... I don't know.

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    1. It's a balance act that works for some but not for others. It's the character driven part that'll either pull the reader in or not.

      Delete
  2. I would find the inappropriate words irritating too, and for some reason the guy on the cover gives me the creeps, he looks like a peeping Tom!

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    Replies
    1. As sad as it is, I prefer the peeing Tom cover to the other one I found online.

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  3. Some of the phrases bother me, other times they don't. I think it just depends on my mood when reading. Not sure if this one is for me, there are so many simular to it and I think I'd chose others.

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    1. A lot of it is the mood but I've read so much romance and erotica over the years that only on special occasions I don't care about them at all. Some of it is my preference for "less is more".

      If you're curious, I'm sure there are other, better Loretta Chase novels you could try. Or stick to the news books being written and published right now.

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  4. I'm glad when authors make it true romance and show that not all love is easy all the time.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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    1. It really does make the stories more interesting.

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  5. The only book I've read by Mrs. Chase is Lord of Scoundrels and I really liked it. I'm not sure about this one. Thank you for your honest review.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. Maybe you should look up other reviews to help you make up your mind. It's really difficult for me to recommend accurately a meh book to anyone.

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  6. I like the sound of this..great review!

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  7. I have to admit this is one of the books by Loretta that I didn't like enough to read all the way through. However I do love this writer! Thanks for a great review, Rameau!

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    1. Thanks. If I hadn't promised a review on Lord of Scoundrels, I might still be reading this one.

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  8. I call it a true romance because it isn't magically easy.

    I completely agree with your assessment. Because of that, I was able to forgive this novel many sins, like the repetitive language and some boring parts in the middle. A great review, nuff said.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. And I can definitely see why you would forgive so much, it just wasn't enough for me to do the same.

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  9. I didn't know this one but I don't know what to think about it. If it's really worth it to read it...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe you should look up other reviews to help you make up your mind. Or read something else and decide later.

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  10. Another one that bored you? :( *sad face* I can't handle those at all!

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    1. In some ways meh books are the worst. They don't invoke any strong feelings and end up just being waste of my time.

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  11. Overall, this sounds like a good romance. I like a couple who are flawed. Wonderful review.

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    1. Thanks. Imperfect people make for great characters.

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  12. My TBR pile is so high I don't think I would have the time nor the inclination to pick a book which is a 3 out of 5....

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    1. It's only a 3 star book if you agree with me. If you agree with Anachronist, it's a 4 star book ;)

      This is why I have two lists. One is for books I definitely want to read and the other is for books I maybe want to read.

      Delete
  13. Nice review Rameau, thank you. Not a book that attracts me, but I also can't remember ever having read about a real shrew.

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    Replies
    1. There's something appealing reading about a difficult woman who finds her happiness too.

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