When I started reading Loretta Chase’s latest, Last Night’s Scandal, I had a little bit of trouble. The character set up relies heavily on what happened in Lord Perfect and her other Carsington family books. So, it was slow going at first, as I oriented myself in this universe and figured out how everyone was related. What really anchored me in the tale — as, of course, it should have — was the relationship between methodical Lisle and reckless Olivia. It’s just delightful!
Chase uses letters from Olivia, filled with verve and lots of emphatic capitalization and underlining, to show the reader how long these two characters have been friends. So that even before the duo sets off on a grand adventure to Scotland, we already know what they don’t: They’ve been in love with each other since they were kids.
A lot of authors set up a dynamic where the hero and heroine have known each other for ages, but there’s usually still barriers and propriety to maintain and the hero is a brother’s best friend or something. In Last Night’s Scandal, Lisle and Olivia are the best friends. So, the fact that Olivia is always spending time alone with Lisle feels totally organic. It’s just that, unlike when she was younger, there are others factors at play — like how they both got substantially hotter. They know each inside and out, already love each other dearly, and must now reconcile becoming attracted to each other. They’re in their early 20s, and Lisle has been away, studying and working in Egypt, so, as a reader, you buy just how gob-smacked he is by Olivia’s new womanly curves. As for Olivia, she’s wonderfully impulsive and scheming, but also has a practical streak a mile wide. The last thing she wants is to keep Lisle from what she perceives is his real true love: Egypt.
As Olivia bedevils and charms Lisle in turns, and he becomes progressively unable to resist her, it’s a funny, heartwarming, and vastly entertaining tale of love blooming from friendship. Lisle and Olivia really do feel like characters who’ve known each other their entire lives, and they banter accordingly. There were so many laugh-out-loud moments that I’d be quoting the whole book if I tried to relate them. Last Night’s Scandal is definitely this morning’s great read!