by Loretta Chase
OK, so I had to do something drastic to step out of this reading/reviewing funk I have been in recently. Fortunately, Desi linked to this blog post on romance and PMS, and something different piqued my interest. A historical nobleman ready and willing to deal with cramps and periods in a non sexual way.
And I am so glad I followed that random blog post. Mr. Impossible was delightful. The perfect anodyne to previous reading endeavors. How much was because of the sheer difference from what has recently been read, I just can’t say, but I really think most it was just this book. This lovely, lovely book. Here is the chimera, the unicorn; here is a man who legitimately falls in love and lust with a woman because of her mind. And Rupert, I adore him, he’s self-deprecating and sweet and not at all the aggressive alpha-hole, all without being a Beta either.
“And being a great dumb ox,” He went on, “I’m wonderfully easy to manage.”
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but he reminds me of my beloved Scarlet Pimpernel, who in so many ways is my ideal hero. And Daphne, she’s a scholar, and a spitfire. Her now deceased husband may have tried to curb her, but underneath it all, she is still who she is, and passionate about her research.
“It’s called ahezan,” she said.
“Yes, but what is it?”
“A scarf girdling the waist,” she said. “Useful for stowing things. Like my knives.”
“Have you the least idea how to use them?” He said.
“I know that you hold it by the handle and the sharp end is the part you stick in,” she whispered impatiently. “What else do I need to know?”
“Hold it with the sharp end aimed upward rather than downward,” he said. “More control, better aim that way.”
“Oh,” she said. “Yes. I see.”
“Shall we proceed, and ought I do so with my knife drawn?’
“You’d better keep it where it is for the moment,” he said. “Otherwise you might stab me to death accidentally.”
“If I stab you to death,” she said, “It will not be accidental.”
And what starts as lust on both their parts, slowly transforms into something very sweet.
Strange things happened inside him-a sudden rush of feeling he hadn’t a name for. Lust was involved naturally, since he was a man, and it would want far more than a few bloodstains on her clothing to make that go away. Lust though, was a hanger-o, an old friend as natural as breathing. The thing it hung upon was as strange and puzzling as the wooden figure tucked inside his coat. He didn’t understand the feeling and didn’t try to. He did understand that she was upset. She had reason.
And Rupert seduces Daphne in a manner that isn’t at all typical of historicals. He seduces her mind as much, if not more than her body.
She could hardly believe her ears. He had been so reluctant to teach her to shoot. But these were words used between equals, words of trust-in her judgement, in her skill-from a man. Her heart leapt with pleasure or fear, she wasn’t sure. Perhaps both.
And then I got to the period scene that started my journey, and it turned out to not even be my favorite scene, though it was awesome enough:
He did not like to leave her alone, suffering, even if it wasn’t his fault and the only cure was time.
“For such a clever woman you are woefully ignorant,” he said. “There’s a great deal one can do.
He had no idea what one could do. He had no sisters, and even if he had, they would have kept this secret from him as every other woman did.
And he proceeds to care for her, no matter how uncomfortable he was. It was as lovely as I had hoped. But that caring didn’t transform into something overly protective and smothering, it transformed into something that nurtured independence and acknowledges her as a strong woman in her own right.
“It wasn’t her rising to the occasion. It’s the occasion rising to her. Egypt and this business with you and the papyrus have finally given her the chance to show what she truly is. She’s-she’s a goddess. But human. A real goddess, not make believe. She’s beautiful and brave and wise, And fascinating. And dangerous. As goddesses are, as you know, in all the best stories.”
And then, the point when he tells her he loves her, it is beautiful, and I am not spoiling it with quotes, so you’ll have to read it when you get there.
I don’t think that this will necessarily make my re-read list, as there was something in the prose that wasn’t my preference and looking back there were a few plot holes (I didn’t notice those while reading though, only when reflecting back on what to say). BUT, it was a truly lovely story that I enjoyed very much, and I sincerely recommend it to any reader who like historicals and/or smart and independent heroines.