More backlog: three classic Loretta Chase stories, Lord of Scoundrels, “The Mad Earl’s Bride,” and The Last Hellion, which share some characters.
Lord of Scoundrels is almost entirely adorable. It is genuinely funny and charming and romantic and except for one small thing it would be perfect. It takes the “tragic childhood leads to male romantic lead becoming complete jerk” and turns it upside-down and inside-out and into a real character arc. It gives the female character desire, romance, and practicality that all work together. And the two of them are, I’m sorry but, adorable together. (This appears to be one of the classic books to give people who don’t read genre romance, and with the caveat below, that seems like a good idea to me.)
“The Mad Earl’s Bride” is a novella (in the anthologies Three Weddings and a Kiss or, just printed, Three Times a Bride) about a couple who get married because the man is dying and his family wants an heir to continue the line, and the woman wants money and social standing to establish a scientifically-run hospital. The plot is sadly obvious but it has more charming gender reversals and characters who are friends as well as lovers. I am very fond of it.
The Last Hellion took a while for me to warm too, because at first it felt too much like Lord of Scoundrels. Eventually I came to like it, perhaps because it managed to do what I would have thought impossible: make Bertie Trent (a character in all three) not only likeable but actually kind of awesome. It does also share the completely incomprehensible (and, I think, randomly bisexual, alas) villain of Scoundrels, which is the flaw in both books: the plots are in many ways not worth speaking of. But except for wishing there wasn’t that random passing reference to the villain’s bisexuality (I think), I don’t care.