6 Rated Books Book Reviews Guest Dare The Dare

Guest Dare: Mr Impossible by Loretta Chase

Welcome to another Guest Dare – the August edition. For those new to the feature, our Guest Dare is a monthly endeavor in which we invite an unsuspecting victim to read a book totally outside of their comfort zone.

This month we invited Angie (from Angieville),  one of our favorite bloggers and book pimps. When we asked what sort of genre was outside her comfort zone she answered “Romance” and Ana jumped at the opportunity to introduce someone else to one of her own favourites: Loretta Chase. What we did not know was that Angie had never EVER read a romance before. Here is what she has to say about her experience.

Title: Mr Impossible

Author: Loretta Chase

Genre: Romance (Historical)

Publisher: Berkley
Publishing Date: March 1 2005
Paperback: 320 pages

Stand Alone or series: Part of the Carsington Brothers series but can be read as a stand alone.

Summary: Blame it on the Egyptian sun or the desert heat, but as tensions flare between a reckless rogue and beautiful scholar en route to foil a kidnapping, so does love, in the most uninhibited and impossibly delightful ways.

Angie’s Review:

Hi fellow Smugglerites! When Ana and Thea dared me to read Mr. Impossible, I knew I was in for it. You see in all my years of reading I had never read a romance novel. That’s right. Not one. I was a romance virgin. And so it was with some trepidation that I girded up my loins (sorry! I couldn’t resist) and marched into the library to check out my first book featuring brawny man chest resplendent on a field of hot pink. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I was secretly looking forward to the whole endeavor, in a nervous I-hope-I-don’t-hate-it kind of way. I mean, I love a good romantic subplot as well as some of the old romantic suspense classics, particularly the incomparable Mary Stewart. I also know Ana is a big fan of Loretta Chase, which equals big points in my book. And though I’ve never heard of Mary Jo Putney before, according to her blurb, fine and delightful things were in store for me. I worried about my tendency to burst out laughing and/or wincing at descriptions of certain body parts…meeting and mixing…but I resolved to keep my reservations at bay and sit back and enjoy the story.
Daphne Pembroke’s life sucks. She had the extreme misfortune to be born in a time and place (1821, England) when her value resides solely in her name and not even a little bit in her mind. This is particularly painful for Daphne as she is of a scholarly bent and, try as she may, she cannot seem to bring herself to give up her passion for hieroglyphics and all things ancient Egypt. She marries the fabulously wealthy, fabulously square Lord Pembroke in the hopes that they’ll get on well because he is also of the scholarly persuasion. Her hopes are dashed, however, when Pembroke proves to be in the dark ages as far as his expectations of how a wife should (and shouldn’t) act and what a wife should (and shouldn’t) do. Fortunately, Pembroke has the good sense to die, leaving Daphne a rich widow. Her progressive and kindhearted brother Miles agrees to let her publish her work under his name and the two of them travel to Cairo together in search of a papyrus Daphne would like to get her hands on. When the papyrus (and Miles!) are stolen, Daphne finds herself in the middle of a decades-old conflict between three nations. She must race to rescue her brother and the papyrus before they, too, become casualties of war. She is accompanied on her journey by Rupert Carsington–the fourth son of the Earl of Hargate and general mountebank, cad, wastrel, what have you. Having sprung him from the dungeons of the Citadel, Daphne determines he will provide the brawn (see cover) and she will provide the brains (alas, the cover is Daphne-less). Together they will foil the kidnapper’s plot.
This was a good pick for me as I love historical novels and mysteries and this has both. Give me a good Laurie R. King or Deanna Raybourn and I’m in heaven. The problem is I spent the first half of the book kind of wishing one of them had written it. There just wasn’t much in the way of development, plot or character. Ms. Chase seemed to fall on the tell end of the show, don’t tell spectrum and I was having a hard time with it. It was like she told me Daphne was smart and Rupert was dumb (or playing dumb) and I was expected to accept it and move on, no more questions asked. Well, it’s clear Daphne’s smart, but when her knees melt and her mouth goes dry the first time she encounters Rupert, it just doesn’t seem the action of an independent and intelligent woman uninterested in layabout men of uncommonly large size. For his part, it’s so abundantly clear that Rupert isn’t any kind of stupid that I found it difficult to believe Daphne would buy his act for a moment. Let alone a couple hundred pages. I wanted more back story, more on her past and his, and not just the bare sketch of a few facts slapped together. I wanted more of their thoughts than how he was going to get into her pants and how she was going to resist his advances. After all, she’s smart (and he really is, too), so give me some more of what’s going on in those complex brains of theirs. And I’m fine with some nice description of just what he and she find attractive about the other. But I need a little bit more to go on than her “rump” (Rupert’s word, not mine) and his “bronze chest” (Daphne’s words, not mine). And varying it up is nice as well. After the fifth “bronze chest” reference, I was ready for some other body part. Or at least some other color. It didn’t help that I kept picturing Edward Cullen’s hair on Rupert’s chest. Sort of makes it hard to take him seriously as a hero when he’s got a chestful of RPattz hair…
Interestingly, at the halfway mark things picked up for me. It seemed like there was a sudden shift in focus. As though Ms. Chase hit her stride a bit with the writing and it felt smoother and more intriguing. This could very well have been me adjusting to things in general, but my favorite scene also happens at right about this point. My favorite passage:

“You were right after all,” Mr. Carsington said.

She turned back to meet his deep brown gaze, serious now. “About what?”
“About learning to take care of yourself,” he said. “The Egyptians have been beaten down cruelly time and again. What reason have they to stand and fight to protect us–a lot of foreign invaders? It makes more sense to run away. You and I shall have to rely upon each other.”
She could hardly believe her ears. He had been so reluctant to teach her how to shoot. But these words used between equals, words of trust–in her judgment, her skill–from a man. Her heart leapt–with pleasure or fear, she wasn’t sure. Perhaps both.
He pointed to a large mound some twenty yards away. There were many such mounds of rubble hereabouts.
“Don’t I need a target?” she said.
“Choose a spot to aim at,” he said. “For now, you mainly need to practice loading, aiming, and firing. Later we can work on your sharpshooting skills.”
He showed her how to fully cock the weapon. He stood behind her, and holding his arm alongside hers, showed her how to aim. The weapon was heavy, and she was more than a little afraid of it. These weren’t the only reasons her hand shook. She’d caught his scent. She was actuely aware of his nearness.
“Hold the pistol with both hands, if you need to,” he said.
She did so, and it helped, but the shakiness went deeper than unsteady hands.
Then he moved away, and her head cleared.
“Fire when ready,” he said.
She took a deep breath and pulled the trigger. There was a click and a little puff of smoke, then a blast so powerful that she nearly dropped the weapon.
“Excellent,” he said. “You hit the mound.”
The mound was the size of Bedford Square. Blindfolded, she could hardly miss it. Still, a wave of happiness surged through her. She wanted to jump up and down. She wanted to dance. She wanted to throw her arms about his neck and kiss him senseless–for teaching her how to do something, a useful thing that men knew how to do, a skill that even her indulgent brother hadn’t taught her.
“Try it again,” Mr. Carsington said. “This time, see if you can do it without any prompting from me.”
This time she went through the preliminaries a degree more confidently, aimed, and fired. Again the ball struck somewhere in Bedford Square.
She fired several more times, and it seemed the ball struck nearer and nearer to the spot she aimed for.
“It is not so very difficult, after all,” she said casually, while her heart pounded with happiness.
Isn’t that great? From this point on I could buy a connection between these two, even if I wished there was more emphasis on its development rather than their getting it on before Rupert bursts a blood vessel. Because he understood her in this scene and he taught her how to shoot a freaking gun. From there on out she can protect herself. She can (and does) protect him. This girl who has been helpless her whole life is helpless no longer. It was bloody awesome. And that scene stayed with me for the rest of the book so that I was happy with how it ended. Happy they foiled the bad guys. Happy they rescued the hapless Miles. Happy Daphne would no longer be shackled to a boorish, tyrannical husband. In the end, I felt quite fond of both of them. In the same way I’m fond of little puppies frolicking about my feet. How innocent and uncomplicated they are. I still cringed through every sexual encounter, but that’s no more the writing’s fault than mine. I just prefer my sex a little subtler and a little more drawn out over time. Like, say, across a four-book series. Lol. Apparently I’m all about the foreplay. But that’s just my preference. For whatever reason, when terms like “rod” and “root” start getting bandied about it’s like I’m suddenly 12 again watching the dreaded maturation video and hoping no one notices if I quietly dissolve in a puddle of embarrassment right then and there. I guess in some ways it is possible to never grow up.
In Smuggler terms: 6 – Good, recommend with reservations
Thanks for the dare and the chance to review Mr. Impossible, guys! As always, I had a great time.

Thanks for accepting the dare Angie. I hope you will try other romance novels – maybe give Julia Quinn’s What Happens in London a go next?

Next month on the Guest Dare: Lusty Reader accepts our dare to read the Graphic Novel Fables, Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham.

Until next month!

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  • Louisa Edwards
    August 25, 2009 at 5:39 am

    I somehow never saw this segment before, but I love the idea of the Guest Dare! This was a particularly good one. Thanks to Angie for being willing to try something new, and thanks to you guys for picking a Loretta Chase book that I now HAVE to read!

  • Kati
    August 25, 2009 at 5:49 am

    Ah Angie. I’m glad you tried Loretta Chase. Sorry the book didn’t work out better for you.

    Confession: I’ve been reading romance for more than 25 years, and I’ve read all of one Loretta Chase that works for me. I am absolutely in the minority there. But I’d love to see you read another romance novel sometime. I hope you’ll consider it…

  • KMont
    August 25, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Sounds like you made a good go of it. 🙂 I have Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels that I’ve still not read. *ducks a Smuggler tomato*

    This one reminded me of the movie The Mummy with Brendan Fraser, for the breaking out of prison scenario, etc. as well as Meredith Duran’s Bound By Your Touch, for the Egyptian-oriented heroine details.

  • Anne M Leone
    August 25, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Hah! Love the concept of the Guest Dare and Angie’s willingness to share her thoughts and romance trepidations. Thanks!

  • Diana Peterfreund
    August 25, 2009 at 6:09 am

    Am kinda shocked that Angie has never read a romance before. Given how much she’s always talking about kissing on her blog. 🙂

    I tend to steer the newbies toward FLOWERS FROM THE STORM, which has less sex and all those cool narrative games.

  • Angie
    August 25, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Louisa, thank you! I had a great time doing it and am definitely going to give WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON a try. Hope you enjoy Rupert and Daphne.

    Kati, it’s always interesting to be in the minority. I could tell just from reading the Smugglers that Chase was quite popular. And I can see why as well. Which one was the one that worked for you? And like I said, Quinn’s book is on my TBR now. I don’t scare that easily. 😉

    KMont, you know how it is. 🙂 And I was reminded of The Mummy movie the entire time I was reading it as well! Perhaps picturing Rupert as Brendan Fraser would have helped me…

    Anne, you’re welcome. Thanks for stopping in and saying hi!

    Diana, I knew it! It’s been too lovey dovey on the blog lately. Probably time for another Stephen King. Thea, which is the best to read after IT? 😉 Of course if you keep writing such good romances into your novels, I’m going to keep talking about them. Knock it off already, will ya?

    (that was a joke. please don’t!)

    It is shocking given my appreciation of a good romance that I haven’t read one before this, though, isn’t it? What is this FLOWERS FROM THE STORM of which you speak?

  • Diana Peterfreund
    August 25, 2009 at 8:45 am

    It’s by Laura Kinsale. It’s about the vehemently Quaker daughter of a mathematician who rescues a brain-damaged, aphasic, polymath Duke from an insane asylum in Regency England.

    No, I’m not joking.

  • Adrienne
    August 25, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Angie-That was a great review! As like you, I don’t realy read romance (to much of the tresses and the throbbing manhood) so when you had wrote about being 12 again and watching mAture, crindge worthy video I started to laugh, that and the RPatz chest hair…made me think of a chia pet 😀

  • Adrienne
    August 25, 2009 at 9:03 am

    😯 Sorry for the 2nd post…If you want a good book after IT, try the Stand…evil, check. Blood, check. Naughty charactures, check check

  • Angie
    August 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Diana, WOW. I, uh, don’t see how I can not read that now that I know it exists.

    Adrienne, thanks! Yeah, that was pretty much how it felt. I’m gonna keep trying them out, though, to see if I can find a few that suit me. And thanks for THE STAND rec. DH seems to agree with you. That’s the bloody enormous one, right? 😉

  • Adrienne
    August 25, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Angie-it is HUGE (haha, get it huge… 😛 ) But so worth it. I read the “short” version at 10 and the HUGE version at 12. If you want to try another book for romance, try Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught. Stupid title, awesome book. Thanks for replying to my post!

  • Ana
    August 25, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Angie, noooooooooooo step away from the Whitney My Love 😆 I loathe that book like you wouldn’t know. 😯 actually….I’d love to see how you felt about it. 😈

    I never read any Laura Kinsale either 😳 I hear that Flowers from the Storm is REALLY good. I just don’t think old school romance is really my thang (see above re Whitney, My Love)

  • Thea
    August 25, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Angie, thanks again for the awesome guest review – and I can completely understand your mixed feelings concerning Mr. Impossible (love scenes, body part details…they make me giggle in a 12 year old kind of way too. My particular hot button – lolololol you LOVE the puns – is “nipple”).

    As for what SK to read, well THAT’S a whole other matter *rubs hands together eeeeevilly* Are you in the mood for a horror/fantasy? Since you loved It, I’d recommend giving The Talisman a read. Or if you want more of a straight-up horror, ‘Salem’s Lot is always a fun twist on vampires and Dracula…

    Or, of course, you could read my favorite series of all time: The Dark Tower books. Starting with The Gunslinger (book 1). The Gunslinger is good, but once you read book 2, Drawing of the Three…well, it’s awesome.

  • Li
    August 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    That’s the longest review I’ve seen from you, Angie 😉

    I’m also surprised this was your first straight romance! I second the Julia Quinn rec – I haven’t yet read WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON but I do like her Bridgertons books. Will have to think more about what romance recs I would give to a non-romance reader…

  • Angie
    August 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Adrienne, you bet! Sounds like I’m coming to King waaaay late in the game. lol.

    Ana, ooh, a book you actually loathe. I don’t know if I can actually go there, especially given how new I am to the genre. I’m thinking I’m going to have to give FLOWERS IN THE STORM a shot, though. I mean, wow.

    Thea, LOL. I can picture you right now. I myself have a hard time with “wetness.” *shudder*

    I haven’t heard much about THE TALISMAN. That might be fun. But I really want to read The Dark Tower books as well. I even owned The Gunslinger not long ago but I can’t find it now. I hate it when that happens.

    Li, lol! What can I say? When I’m over here I get all loquacious. Something in the water, no doubt. Yes, I’m glad I’m no longer uninitiated when it comes to romance. And I’m happy to have the Quinn recommendation seconded. More newbie recs absolutely welcome!

  • Kati
    August 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Angie – Lord of Scoundrels. Terrific book!

    And yes, Ana loathes W, ML, but I love it. It’s all in the approach. My guess is, as someone new to romance, you probably wouldn’t like it either. If you’re thinking about giving McNaught a try, I’d go with A Kingdom of Dreams.

    Diana’s recommendation of Flowers from the Storm is a good one. It’s a meaty book, and one that is really executed quite well. It’s not one of my favorites, it’s certainly really beloved in the romance community.

  • Adrienne
    August 25, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Ana-knife to the heart! Really? You hated it? It’s the only romance novel I think I still have, that and Kingdom of Dreams 🙄 I would have to agree with Kati, Kingdom is a much better book then Whitney, My Love. I was thinking less member and more drama. 😉

    I agree with Thea-the Tailsman rocks! Read that over the Stand actually

  • Gerd Duerner
    August 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    ’tis too bad, whenever I read those Loretta Chase excerpts I can’t help but love her writing style, but the reminder that she’s very much into the erotic part scares me away from actually giving her a try.

  • Lusty Reader
    August 25, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I totally would have pegged Angie as a having previously read a romance! Mr. Impossible was actually my least favorite Chase, so I hope you keep trying.

    And I’m glad you survived the dare, I’m getting a little nervous about mine!

  • Angie
    August 25, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Kati, noted. Why didn’t you love FLOWERS FROM THE STORM, out of curiosity?

    Adrienne, I’m all for less member, more drama. Hehe. And I’m waffling between THE TALISMAN and SALEM’S LOT. Hmm.

    Gerd, I’m glad you enjoyed the quoted passage. I wouldn’t really call this one too erotic. But, again, I’m a newbie here. The others could probably guide you to a relatively tame Chase book. Anyone?

    Lusty Reader, *grin* I seem to have been successfully “passing.” And I survived perfectly unscathed. Your dare looks very interesting and I’m looking forward to your review!

  • Ana
    August 25, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    I second the Kingdom of Dreams rec! It is the only JM that I REALLY liked. It is one of my faves of all times and Angie, even THEA liked it. 😉

    Adrienne – I thought the hero in WML was a jerk, a rapist and a brute. Yeah. I loathe that book. 😯 *runs from Kati and Adrienne*

    Gerd! Say it ain’t so! Loretta is actually one of the least erotic romance writers, in my opinion. Yes, there is sex and yes, it is hot but the sex scenes don’t have all the time and usually, they are intertwined with the development of the plot and not just to fill a quota of sex scenes.

    If you wish to start with Loretta, give Lord of Scoundrels a go. It is one of my favorite BOOKS (not only Romance) of all time

    Maybe I should have dared Angie to read THAT one 😆

  • Angie
    August 26, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Okay, KINGDOM OF DREAMS is on the list. Interesting how polarizing McNaught is. THEA liked it?!? Veeeery interesting.

  • willaful
    August 26, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    In a way I think it’s a shame you lost your romance virginity with this particular book (one of my favs) because I think there’s often a… period of adjustment when one starts reading romance. I found many books virtually unreadable when I first started that I later adored. Writing conventions are different and sex scenes take some getting used to, it’s true. (Chase is not even particularly graphic in this area, believe me!) Now the Kinsale might be an excellent next choice, because her literary value is so high. I would also suggest something by Judith Ivory.

  • tolgirl
    August 26, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Excellent review! In fact, best guest yet! Please come back.

  • Angie
    August 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Willaful, I think you’re probably quite right. That’s fascinating that you came around on several of the first ones you disliked. Out of curiosity, is there such a thing as a romance series in which the couple do not get together in the first book but in a later book?

    tolgirl, wow, thank you! That’s very high praise. Rest assured, I’ll be available whenever Ana and Thea call. 😉

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