Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels is on everybody’s list of favorite Historical Romances. In an All About Romance interview, Ms. Chase professed surprise at its long-term popularity. “I asked my husband why it’s so popular, and he said, ’The glove scene.’ ”
Ah! The Glove Scene. This is another one of those great romance moments that gives me the shivers. I lap it up every time I read the book (which I do every year, of course). It is the first time that Dain and Jessica touch, and the effect it has on them both is profound. They both leave the encounter knowing that they want—that they MUST—touch some more.
Jessica Trent has been called to Paris to deal with her younger brother who is mixed up with a debauched crowd and on his way to the poorhouse from trying to keep up with them. Jessica helped rear ten male cousins and knows the way their brains work, their penchant for making jokes about what they want to do with women, their endless fascination with passing wind and water—nothing they can do surprises her. She knows what they are, and she knows how to deal with them. Until she meets Sebastian, the Marquess of Dain.
Dain is an unattractive giant of a man who inherited a big nose and sensitivity from his Italian mother. He is a very intelligent man, but he is also, alas, an emotional Neanderthal. He is crass and boorish and has very little patience with the dimwitted Bertie Trent. But his sister . . . now that’s a different story.
When Jessica and Dain first meet in an antiques shop, it is an electric moment. What comes out of their mouths is witty banter, but inside, Dain’s first thought was to contemplate “licking her from the top of her alabaster brow to the tips of her dainty toes,” while Jessica, who had been told that Dain was large and so pictured a gorilla, not a stallion, later confesses, “In my mind, I took off all your clothes. I couldn’t help it. It was a dreadful few moments.”
Jessica attempts to bribe Dain into sending Bertie back to England with a valuable Russian icon which Jessica has and Dain wants. Dain doesn’t like to be told what to do and threatens to ruin Jessica’s reputation, right there in the coffee shop. When Jessica says, “I should like to see you try,” Dain goes to work on her glove, slowly unbuttoning the many buttons while muttering in Italian. He begins by talking about the weather and the state of the Paris sewers, but
. . . his pulse had started to accelerate by Button Number Six. By Number Twelve, it was racing. By Number Fifteen, he had to concentrate to keep his breathing steady . . . Miss Jessica Trent’s grey eyes had taken on the drunkenly bewildered expression of a respectable spinster being seduced in spite of herself.
Even if he had comprehended her expression, he wouldn’t have believed it, any more than he could believe his untoward state of excitement—over a damned glove and a bit of feminine flesh. Not even one of the good bits, either—the ones a man didn’t have—but an inch or two of her wrist, plague take her.
The worst was that he couldn’t stop. The worst was that his passionately intent expression had somehow become genuine, and he was no longer talking in Italian about drains, but about how he wanted to unbutton, unhook, untie every button, hook, and string . . . and slip off her garments, one by one, and drag his monstrous blackamoor’s hands over her white virgin’s flesh.
And while in Italian he detailed his heated fantasies, he was slowly peeling the glove back, exposing a delicately voluptuous palm. Then he gave one small tug toward her knuckles. And paused. Then another tug. And paused. Then another tug . . . and the glove was off. He let it fall to the table, and took her small, cool, white hand in his great, warm one. She gave a tiny gasp.
Ooh! That first touch—skin to skin—after the great buildup is delicious. There’s more, but I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say that this little demonstration in front of all Paris fuels all kinds of speculation. Neither can ever convincingly pretend indifference again. Their fate is sealed. Fabulous!
Back to my book. That scene where they’re kissing in the rain under a lamppost and Jessica beats Dain with her bonnet until he does it right is coming up. My second favorite scene in the book. And then there’s the carriage ride . . .
Cheryl Sneed reviews at Rakehell.com.