Marcelline Noirot is a London dressmaker trying to make it big. Her innovative, French-inspired designs are unlike anything seen in staid English ballrooms and Marcelline is convinced that all she has to do is score one big client to ensure her family’s success – and freedom from poverty – for the rest of her life. So she sets her sights on the future Duchess of Clevedon, by way of the Duke, who has yet to propose. Marcelline gambles that the best way to convince Clevedon is to show him just how incredible her creations are in person, in Paris; what she stands to lose is no less than her reputation and her heart to a man she can never have.
Loretta Chase is a rising star on my romance radar. After a few fairly disappointing reads by her, I seem to suddenly be falling in love with her books. Silk is for Seduction is not an exception, as I virtually inhaled it on a couple of train journeys and struggled to keep the tears from my eyes in public. I did catch a few anachronistic notes, as I don’t really think this HEA would have occurred in real life, but the emotions were all genuine and the story was fabulous.
Marcelline herself was one of the high points of the book for me. A woman who has clearly been through it all, a widow with a small child who has pulled her entire family out of poverty and established them as dressmakers, she still manages to dream big. She’s obviously clever and positions herself as the dressmaker who will single-handedly inspire English fashion, but she knows it won’t be easy, putting in far more effort than she ever lets any of the other characters know.
Meanwhile Clevedon, the hero of our story, needs to learn a few of those tough lessons and stop taking everything in his life for granted. He’s returning from a three year wastrel’s tour of Europe having finally decided to propose to the woman who has been waiting for him for years, even though he truly believes he loves her. Marcelline shows up and, without meaning to, throws his life completely off track by introducing something he needs to work for and a purpose he can devote himself to. It’s easy to fall in love with him.
What I also loved about this book was the atmosphere. The sensation that Marcelline causes whenever she walks into a ballroom in one of her creations has still left a lingering memory imprinted on my brain – I can almost see her dresses in my mind. She’s present in glittering ballrooms across Paris and London, making an imprint on fashion that none of the characters ever manages to forget. To me, this added a real dimension to the book.
And, finally, the shadow heroine, Clevedon’s intended Clara. She too comes into her own in this book, and I sincerely hope she will be the focus of her own soon.
There were a few picky things I didn’t like about it; as I said earlier, I wouldn’t put this HEA in the context of real life because it isn’t particularly realistic. Neither was Marcelline’s daughter, who was an adorable character but for some reason I couldn’t imagine her as a real child. There was a side plot involving theft of Marcelline’s designs which did contribute to the story but was very much on the side of the main romance as well.
All in all, however, I loved reading this book and it’s stuck vividly in my mind for weeks now. I would highly recommend it to any romance reader.
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