Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can't see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax's nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child is in trouble, she turns to tall, dark, and annoying barrister Oliver Radford.
Though he's unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford's never been part of fashionable society, and the blonde beauty, though not entirely bereft of brains, isn't part of his plans. But Clara overwhelms even his infallible logic, and when wedlock looms, all he can do is try not to lose his head over her.
It's an inconvenient marriage by ordinary standards, but these two are far from ordinary. Can the town's most adored heiress and London's most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?
©2015 Loretta Chekani (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
This is a smart, funny, sexy romance. Loretta Chase does romance like no one else, and when her prose is read by Kate Reading the story becomes incandescent. I loved this, inhaled it in pretty much one sitting, and will very likely re-listen soon. If you like Ms Chase you'll love this. If you like historical romance, you'll love this. If you like Kate Reading, you'll love this.
You can read the blurb for a plot summary, but here you have love between equals. A very smart woman frustrated to the point of hysteria over having to pretend she has no brain. A man so smart he's never surprised...and Lady Clara surprises him. Quite a bit. The sexual tension is palpable, the dialog is hilarious, the narration is sublime, the plot is unique and unpredictable, and the whole thing is a delicious delight. I especially enjoyed how, when she became deathly ill, Raven nursed Lady Clara. That's the opposite of nearly every other romance I've ever read.
This is Ms Chase's best so far, IMO, and the narration makes it sizzle and pop even more. I highly recommend this one!
I loved this! Lady Clara was my favorite character in the previous book in this great series. I'm so glad she got her own story
Clara is one of my top female characters ever! I love that she puts up with nothing. The beginning of the book relates her first meeting with "Raven" and it's memorable. She reads books when it's not considered proper for women. She drives her own carriage. She's an amazingly "modern" woman for her time. And then she runs into Raven again (of course) and it's a very fun adventure. Oliver, aka Raven, is also one of my favorite characters. Their banter makes the book. Both characters are intelligent and that contributes to a great story.
The writing is phenomenal. The dialogue is a riot. I found myself laughing out loud and surprising my husband since I was listening with headphones and he had no idea what was going on.
Kate Reading does another perfect job with the narration.This book was well worth the wait.
I love historical romances with an occasional foray into mystery/thrillers.
Chase's newest book features the trademark witty banter between Lady Clara and Radford that listeners of the Carsington series would expect. Clara is a pampered aristocrat who feels smothered in her pampered life. She decides to help one of the girls at a charity she is involved with. It leads to a meeting with Radford who she had met as a child. What follows is a delightful and somewhat unconventional courtship. I appreciated the book didn't end with a wedding, but allowed readers to see Clara and Radford work thru the first days of the marriage. Kate Reading's narration is top notch as always. I can't wait for the next collaboration between Reading and Chase.
She has always been a favorite of mine & it was great to watch her meet her match. In Dukes Prefer Blondes the plight of intelligent women is articulately expressed with all the passion and humor to be expected from Lady Clara. Raven Radford is a perfect foil for her. Many thanks to Loretta Chase and Kate Reading for such an enjoyable few hours.
Popular reviewer of more than 400 historical romance titles on Goodreads. Georgian/Regency/Victorian/Edwardian.
We first met Lady Clara, daughter of the Marquess of Warford, in Silk Is for Seduction, when she was unofficially betrothed to her childhood friend, the Duke of Clevedon. She was perfectly beautiful and beautifully perfect – except for one thing.
Clara’s wardrobe was dreadful, and the French-English Noirot sisters were determined to get her as a client for their dressmaker shop. They did obtain her patronage, but in the end, Lady Clara refused to marry a man who wasn’t in love with her, and the duke married Marceline Noirot. Lady Clara was disappointed in love in Scandal Wears Satin but pleased when her brother married Sophie Noirot. And in Vixen in Velvet Lady Clara plays a secondary role as her dowdy cousin Gladys falls under the Noirot sisters’ spell.
With impeccable politeness, Lady Clara simply demanded her own story, and Loretta Chase listened. In Dukes Prefer Blondes (unfortunately title, that), we learn that Lady Clara is much more than just another wealthy, beautiful young lady. She is intelligent and witty and she silently chafes under the oppressive rules of conduct to which ladies of that day were expected to adhere. She dreads becoming the wife of a man who wants her only for her beauty and her fortune. As she becomes resigned to this fate, however, she decides to perform one selfless service before coming under the dominion of some gentleman.
Lady Clara is a patroness of a charity run by the Noirot sisters which trains impoverished women for respectable work. One young woman is concerned about her younger brother, who has stopped attending school and disappeared; she fears he may have been forced into a criminal gang. Lady Clara vows to help her but has not the first idea how to go about it. Fenwick, the Noirot sisters’ pickpocket-turned-footboy suggests that she enlist the help of the eminent barrister Oliver Radford, known to all at the Old Bailey by his schoolboy nickname, “Raven.”
Raven Radford is the last man anyone would choose for Lady Clara Fairfax. Although he is the great-grandson of a duke, he is a commoner who earns his living as a barrister, a barely respectable occupation, given that he defends the dregs of society. He eschews meaningless social events and polite conversation. He knows that he is the smartest man in the room and has no use for fools. In fact, he is known for saying exactly what he thinks to anyone at any time. He is passionate about his profession and not much else.
When a beautiful blonde lady strides into his office, he sees through her frumpy disguise and remembers a dauntless eight-year-old girl who once defended him against his bullying cousin at a Vauxhall family outing. Raven was a schoolmate of Lady Clara’s older brother and of the odious cousin Bernard. To this day, Lady Clara has a chipped tooth where her mouth met Bernard’s elbow. For his part, “Beastly Bernard”, now the Duke of Malvern, has grown into a self-indulgent, utterly irresponsible drunk whom Raven detests.
Before Raven can dismiss Lady Clara for the useless lady he believes her to be, she takes charge of the situation, and by the end of the interview, where she matches him blow for verbal blow, Raven discovers a burgeoning respect for her. Against his better judgment, he finds himself helping her on her quest to find the missing boy.
And so, the first half of this wonderful book features Lady Clara and Raven meeting surreptitiously and doing all sorts of things that would give her mother the vapors. Clara, who wants passion but has never known it, begins to wonder if perhaps that is what she feels for Raven. And Raven, who has always avoided titled young ladies, discovers that he not only desires this lovely woman, he also admires her intellect, her determination, and her fearlessness in the face of his initial disdain.
Naturally, they fall in love but fear of admitting it. Raven knows that they come from two different worlds and that neither would fit into the other’s. Nor would Lady Clara’s father ever consent to her marriage to a man could not begin to support the style of life she has always known.
In the end, Lady Clara has to force Raven to the point. Reminding him that she was raised to be a duchess, she declares:
“Perhaps I ought to marry Beastly Bernard,” she said before he could step far enough away from himself to fashion a rational sentence. “He sounds as though he needs someone like me desperately. Being despotic, I should not have much difficulty making something of him. In my experience, men like Bernard are not at all difficult to manage.”
Radford stared at her. It took a moment for his brain to connect to his tongue.
“Bernard,” he said.
“Yes,” she said. “He’s the duke in the family, is he not?”
As expected, Lord Warford does refuse Raven’s request to marry Lady Clara, but when Raven asks for a “fair trial” of the “charges” against him, her parents agree to listen. There they learn that not for nothing is he known as the leading barrister of the day. In a lovely scene, he delivers not only a strong defense of himself but also a stirring oration on behalf of letting Lady Clara be the woman she wants and needs to be. Finally, as Lady Warford reaches for the smelling salts, Lord Warford consents.
“’Mr. Radford is unsuitable on a wide array of counts,” the marquess said.
“Except the most important one,” Lord Warford went on. “He suits you, and you seem to suit him.’”
Loretta Chase is known for her witty banter between leading characters, and she puts her talent to excellent use here. But really, their conversations, while funny, are much more than banter. They actually listen to one another, and although each wants to get their own way, they demonstrate mutual respect and a desire to please the other. But it isn’t just all talk; the chemistry between them jumps off the page, and the wedding night scene is a classic.
In the second part of the book, while the couple adjusts to married life together, they are also put in danger by a band of criminals seeking revenge against Radford, and unexpected events in Radford’s family upend their lives. Some of the sexiness dissipates a bit, but it’s fun to watch them devise a true partnership where each is able to put their talents to the best use on behalf of the other.
As with the other Dressmaker books, clothes are important, and the outrageous fashions of the 1830s are described in loving detail. The Noirot sisters make a cameo appearance because of course Lady Clara must have the most fabulous wedding dress ever created. But really, this is Radford’s and Clara’s story, which means it works well even if you haven’t read the earlier books.
As for Kate Reading, I'll say what I've said before: she is the perfect narrator for Loretta Chase's books. Her performance is faultless.
It is no surprise that the immensely talented Loretta Chase has produced another winner. Radford and Lady Clara are a perfect couple on many levels and reading their story was a joy. Dukes Prefer Blondes is highly recommended!
As usual, these characters in the Dressmaker series are so real. The dialogue is a treat. The reader makes this one come alive. I don't know how she does it, but each character's voice is different and unique.The only thing that I did not understand was why the book was titled Dukes Prefer Blonds. That didn't seem to go with the story, even though the heroine was a blond. She was so much more that her hair color seemed a distant second to me.
I really liked Clara's maid and Fenwick as secondary characters.
Yes. This book is just as well read as the others. She is my favorite reader. I tried this series because she is the reader. I had never heard of Loretta Chase before I listened to Marceline and Clerendon's story.
I liked the trial scene wherein our hero is trying to persuade Clara's parents to accept him as her future husband. Clara's father is not a stick in the mud, even though her mother was more worried about what people will say than her daughter's happiness.
I ADORE this book. Such amazing dialogue. Is not like anything else I have ever read by Loretta Chase. I admit I am a big fan but this book is by far the most witty of all and the best written. Believe me when I say this book will leave it's imprint on you. I know I will listen to this book over and over and over again over time. Anytime I feel like laughing and enjoying a great book.
Attorney - love to listen to audio books
The Dressmaker books (the three book prior to this one) were very good. Dukes Prefer Blondes does not come close to their level. There is some witty dialog between the H/H, but that does not make a good book - there needs to be a plot. In my opinion the plot in this book is very weak. The writer mostly tries to follow the same formula she used in the Dressmaker books (particularly the second and third, which were the best) and did it in a hurried haphazard way. The reader/performer is good except for her "excited voice" for Clara, which was terrible and whiney. I recommend that you try the first three books of the Dressmaker series and then quit. The story of Clara is not worth bothering with.
I enjoyed the Dressmakers trilogy in which Clara was a featured character. Therefore this book detailing Clara's quest for love was a preorder.
I loved her man Raven for his willingness to see and appreciate her brains and beauty. Clara found a man that let her blossom and ended the restrictive life she had. I had expected more interaction with the Dressmakers or her brother but that did not occur. This was an enjoyable light and fun listen.
Addicted to listening, Loves a good story and a good narration!
I really liked the Dressmakers series. But this is a mixed bag, as if it was confused.
Some people wrote that nothing happens, that it was boring, but I disagree, I actually think TOO MUCH happens. It seemed to me the author had too many different stories about this couple.
The dialogue and banter between the characters is wonderful and fun, lots of sarcasm and good humor. I love that much of the book is about after their marriage. The ideas for the story line are actually great, but IMO it is just too many ideas and too little about each. More below in the spoiler alert. Overall fairly enjoyable.
Story: 3.5 great characters, strong woman, confused plot.
Performance: 4.5 stars. solid good as always
Relationship: a bit different, loving, great chemistry. Fun, Some hot scenes.
Overall: 3.75 stars- fairly enjoyable, worth a credit.
I think there are too many plot lines here and that is what makes this book a mixed bag. Every time I thought,"oh, that is interesting, that's where the story is going"... it changed direction.
The idea that a noble woman will marry a professional man is more unique. How they met and fall in love is also original. The description of her ilness and how he took care of her was also good. The law suit about the marriage is great and interesting but not too much time is spent on it. I would have liked to read more about that idea.
The story could have developed in the direction of how Lady Clara helps the family to adapt to their new life in nobility, but that is also just a small sub plot. I wished there was more development in that plot line....and then the story introduced a murder plot, that is also not developed enough, and not very clear. Then back to nobility adjustment but very short.
Maybe this couple needed two books?
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