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Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase
published by Avon (Harpercollins Publisher) in June 2011
From the Design Book of Marcelline Noirot:Genre: Historical romance
The allure of the perfect gown should be twofold:
ladies would die to wear it...
and gentlemen would kill to remove it!
Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirot is London's rising star. And who better to benefit from her talent than the worst-dressed lady in the ton, the Duke of Clevedon's intended bride? Winning the future duchess's patronage means prestige and fortune for Marcelline and her sisters. To get to the lady, though, Marcelline must win over Clevedon, whose standards are as high as his morals are... not.
The prize seems well worth the risk—but this time Marcelline's met her match. Clevedon can design a seduction as irresistible as her dresses; and what begins as a flicker of desire between two of the most passionately stubborn charmers in London soon ignites into a delicious inferno... and a blazing scandal.
And now both their futures hang by anexquisite thread of silk...
Series: The Dressmakers series, Book #1
The Story: The Noirot sisters are the proprietresses of the up and coming Maison Noirot - i.e. dressmakers. They are confident of their talents; however, London ladies are slow to recognize true fashion and shift their allegiance. In order for their business to more prestige, the Noirot sisters need a coup... and what would be better than the worst-dressed lady, the Duke of Clevedon's fiancée. Especially when rumors have it that the Duke will finally come back from the continent to claim his bride?
In order to accomplish this coup, the eldest sister - Marcelline Noirot - heads for France to catch Clevedon's attention, arouse his curiosity and make him aware of Maison Noirot's fashion... Using all the charms and tricks she got from the Dreadful DeLuceys side of the family. What Marcelline doesn't expect is the sparks and attraction between them, for her game of seduction to go too far. How can Marcelline be Clevedon's mistress as well as his fiancée's modiste?
My Opinion: Ms Chase has a huge fanbase thanks to Lord of Scoundrels which is often voted best romance novel ever. Me, I enjoyed it a lot but I wouldn't say it's the best book I've ever read... I don't know if it's a generation thing or just my personal tastes. Anyway, all to say that I don't gobble up all of Ms Chase's books, I actually pick and choose based on the blurbs the ones that interest me. I skipped Last Night's Scandal based on the reviews... but when I came across Silk is for Seduction's blurb, I just knew I was going to read it. What really caught my interest was the fact that the heroine was a dressmaker. LOL, I know, it doesn't take much... but seriously, it's such a pleasure when an author takes such a small detail and makes it work :) And of course, when a hunch pays off :)
All to say that Silk is for Seduction was a great book, in big part thanks to the heroine, Marcelline Noirot. She was just an awesome character. I love the fact that she was a dressmaker, that she was artistic with a temperament, but also ambitious. Also loved her wits and cunning ways. Truth is, Marcelline comes from a family of charlatans/conmen and she along with her sisters have been taught to use their wits and charms to manipulate, to get what they want... and while they're trying to step away from the Noirots' ways and become legitimate, they're not above using whatever is at their disposition to get what they want :) All this made for a very complex and also very charismatic heroine :) And as I said, pretty awesome :)
While I didn't get as much of a feel for Clevedon, I thought he was also pretty interesting. I think it's because he's not your typical duke. He's not the stuffy type nor the ultra-authocrative duke nor the debauched rake. He doesn't really fit any of the stereotypes that we're used to. He's just a man who has spent the couple last few years on the Continent, most specifically France, avoiding his ducal responsibilities and marriage... mostly because he doesn't think he'll measure up to the expectations imposed. However, his time is coming to an end. Even by the end of the book, he didn't act that "dukely" :P That made him different, refreshing... but not as likable as Marcelline. In comparison, he was a bit bland. Interesting, but not totally exciting.
I really liked the first part of the book that took place in France where it was only Marcelline and Clevedon. I liked the seduction game, the battle of wits. I felt it's really where Marcelline and Clevedon could be themselves and I really enjoyed their interactions. Once they were back in London, hmmm, the romance cooled down a little. Of course, there was the ton, Marcelline's family and daughter to consider, oh and the fiancée and their reputations, etc. Understandably, it was due to circumstances... but I thought it was unfortunate. I was a bit disappointed as well because given Marcelline and Clevedon's personalities, I was expecting them to be a bit more assertive, to really go after what they want no matter what others think.
I think that romance novels where the hero already has a fiancée is always tricky to handle. You'll notice when it's the heroine who has a fiancé, then the guy tends to be a jerk and it's easy to get rid of him... But with a hero, well the fiancée usually tends to be a nice, naive girl. So all the characters are really walking a fine line, because there's always the potential feeling that the hero is cheating... That's why I would have liked Marcelline and Clevedon to step up earlier. Ah well, at least Marcelline wasn't pining for Clevedon which is a good thing... and I have to say, I liked how Clevedon's fiancée stood up for herself at the end. To call Clevedon's out for his action, but also to not settle for someone that doesn't suit her just because that's what her parents want. So all in all, while it's not the way I wanted it to be handled, I think Ms Chase did a good job and resolved this conflict in a satisfactory manner which made for a good romance.
After reading Silk is for Seduction, what stay with the readers are the characters and romance. However, Silk is for Seduction did have a storyline and it was one that was interesting and one that worked. The secondary characters made for a better book and so did the details about the dressmaking business... and all of this, wrapped with engaging writing :) Hard to ask for more :P
My Grade: A-. I devoured Silk is for Seduction because it was an excellent read :) I love the characters, but also the originality of the book. I'm looking forward to the next book, because I'm definitively picking it up :)