Thursday, August 4, 2011
Silk is for Seduction
Marcelline Noirot is the daughter of a penniless French aristocrat and an equally penniless English rose, whose financial state led them to a traveling life tricking their targets out of money. This left little time for Marcelline and her two sisters who have since become the most talented, if not the most popular, modistes in London. The Noirot sisters are determined to lure clients away from their nemesis, Mrs. Downes, especially Lady Clara, the presumed future Duchess of Clevedon. The Duke of Clevedon knows he is supposed to marry Lady Clara, but he has been enjoying his years of raising hell in Paris and the other big cities of Europe. Then one day he is entranced by Mrs. Noirot at the opera and even when she admits to him that she is only after him to win the patronage of his future wife, he cannot get her out of his mind. She spars with him, she gambles with him and he ends up losing and escorting her to the most popular ball of the Paris season, bringing their relationship into the public eye and gaining her quite a bit of notoriety.
Fearing that her new reputation will harm her business she rushes back to London, unaware that Clevedon is following her. On the journey back he takes care of her while she is seasick and then discovers that she has a daughter; a beautiful and charming daughter who quickly wins him over. But things in London become complicated because she is concerned with building up her dress shop and finding the spy who is selling information to her rival, and he wonders if he will ever be ready to propose to the woman he has always regarded as a sister. When Mrs. Downes efforts to drive them out of business turn potentially deadly, it is Clavedon who is there to save the day and it sets the ton off in a whirlwind and Marcelline knows she has to end things with him as soon as possible. But he has proved himself so capable and helpful that it is impossible for her to pretend that she doesn't love him. And Clevedon has finally realized what he wants out of life and he doesn't care if it flies in the face of society; the only question is if he can convince Marcelline that love is worth risking everything.
Marcelline was an awesome character and I liked her from the very beginning because she was strong and ambitious, but she cared so deeply for her family and harbored hidden hurts from her parents. I liked that she worked for a living and had pride in what she did, not shame, and that she was comfortable with her sexuality and desires. She went after what she wanted, and while she could have done it in a more muted, or kinder, fashion, it was impossible not to respect her actions. I felt like her fear of getting close to Clavedon was realistic and I understood her motives for everything she did clearly which shows that Chase is just great at completely immersing her readers in her characters. Clavedon was also amazing because he also had his own hidden hurts and his position in life had prevented him from ever really figuring out what he wanted to accomplish, or what his sense of purpose was and it was only with Marcelline's help that he was able to. He was so caring about Marcelline and her daughter and I loved when they all interacted together, almost as a family.
Their relationship was a little rocky in my opinion, with seduction taking the form of "sparing" and them teasing each other, which I am not really a big fan of. I felt like they didn't spend enough time actually talking and getting to know each other, but I also believed that there was genuine love and emotion between them. They both had so much respect and trust in the other that they worked incredibly well together. There was some sex between them, not a lot, and, in keeping with both of their confidence in their desires, it was really hot and loving all at the same time. I loved reading about how Clavedon matured and how he came to realize that he wanted a different life then the one that had been prewritten for him. I also liked reading from different points of view, from the rival Mrs. Downes, to Lady Clara, who was especially fun and well written and I loved her. The rival dressmaker plot was interesting and important without being overwhelming and worked really well in the story. My biggest problem was the incredibly well spoken 6 year-old who was like no child I know and seemed incredibly unrealistic.
Rating: A very fun book with two incredible characters that worked so well together. The side plots and characters were interesting and I really enjoyed reading this book.