Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase

Book Description:
She Needed to be Tamed...

She was a breathtaking firebrand, and Vere Mallory, the notorious Duke of Ainswood, had never seen anything like her. Although he thought he was rescuing Lydia Grenville from the clutches of a renowned wastrel, he quickly discovers she is angry at his interference! Amused by the sultry hell-cats's fury, Mallory vows to teach her some humility - in life and in love.

He Was Just the Man to Do It.

Lydia Grenville was fuming. She was determined to save womankind from disreputable rakes like the infamous Mallory, not to succumb to his scandalous charms. She finds herself overwhelmed by the scintillating sensations he brings to her body, but when she discovers that he has bragged that he's going to "tame" her, Lydia vows to fight his advances... but nothing prepares her for the surrender she finds in his arms.

I totally loved this book!

I’ve really enjoyed the entire Scoundrels Series as a whole (the first was a bit weak, but the others made up for it). This is the last book of the series and I recommend reading the series in order, or at least read Lord of Scoundrels (which is great!) before this one.

Beginning with the prologue, which brought tears to my eyes, I knew The Last Hellion would be good. We are first introduced to our hero, Vere, a few years before the story begins. The younger brother to the Duke of Ainswood, he is a ne’er do well, man about town. But tragedy strikes and death upon death occurs successively in his family. His older brother dies first, leaving behind three children, two girls and a son, Robin, the nine year old heir to the dukedom. Vere takes Robin under his wing, becoming close over the course of six months. But, tragedy strikes again and Robin succumbs to diphtheria and dies. Despite his outward jovial, devil-may-care appearance, Vere is heartbroken and must now carry the burden of the dukedom he does not want.

Vere becomes all the worse. He’s gone overboard, and for those that read, Lord of Scoundrels, you may remember him as the lout that Sebastian Dain fights with on his wedding day. The present Duke of Ainswood is basically… a jerk. Yet, we know he’s really not as bad as he seems. He’s just suffering inwardly and rebelling against the dukedom and air of respectability he’s supposed to uphold. Much of the course of The Last Hellion is the reformation of Vere, Duke of Ainswood.

And just who is responsible for this reformation? The indomitable Lydia Grenville, that’s who, although she is completely unaware of it. Lydia is amazingly resourceful, smart and intelligent. A reporter and secret author of London's most popular and highly anticipated fictional serial, The Rose of Thebes, she is a match for Vere. At first, they despise each other and have a very public fight in an alleyway, much to the consternation of Vere. Proud of his boxing prowess, he’s having a hard time living down the fact that Lydia bested him in a street brawl! In front of a crowd of witnesses, no less!

Lydia comes from the lower depths of society. She is no high society debutante. Yet, as the story progresses, we find out there is some kind of distant family connection to the Ballisters, Lord Dain’s family (from Lord of Scoundrels). All is not as it seems. All Vere knows is she is absolutely annoying as hell, yet absolutely magnificent. Beautiful and statuesque, dressed all in black, she careens through London in her gig, giant black mastiff, Susan, in tow. She is a crusader. In the spirit of Mary Wollstonecraft, she is an advocate for women’s rights, particularly in rescuing young innocents from the clutches of a notorious London “bawd” who leads poor, unsuspecting runaways into her trap and turns them into prostitutes against their will.  Lydia has the makings of becoming a great duchess!

Vere and Lydia run into each over and over again and despite their animosity towards each other, there’s an undeniable attraction as well. Although she’s worldly when it comes to street smarts and getting scoops for her paper, she’s a complete innocent when it comes to love – much less kissing! Vere takes advantage of this, which becomes a delicious romance between the two. He intends to take her down any way he can. Except, he didn’t count on falling in love with her too! While trying to romance her, the two of them join up as a team to foil London’s seamy underworld and save his two young nieces! Lots of thrills and chills abound!

In addition, I greatly enjoyed the romance between Tamsin (one of Lydia’s rescues) and Dain’s brother-in-law, his wife, Jessica’s notoriously addle brained brother, Bertie. Bertie became quite endearing in this book. It helps if you’ve read Lord of Scoundrels previously to appreciate him.  He and Tamsin were very cute together and were a funny little side story.

I can’t say enough about what a fun and entertaining read this was! A thrilling, steamy, funny historical romance! Yet , there is an underlying emotional storyline as well – ahhh, the perfect combo. Do yourself a big favor and give it a whirl. Chase has become one of my favorite romance novelists, in the style of Julia Quinn and Karen Harper. I highly recommend her. The Last Hellion was a wonderful finale to Chase's Scoundrels series.


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