‘The Earl’s Mistress’ by Liz Carlyle

tem lkSTORY: Women rarely refuse the wicked Earl of Hepplewood, whose daring exploits are only whispered about. But when his new governess answers his proposition with a slap, then stalks out, references in hand, Hepplewood finds more than his face is burning.

Isabella Aldridge has brains, bravado, and beauty—but the latter is no use to a servant. Her circumstances are desperate, and with Hepplewood’s words ringing in her ears, Isabella realizes she must barter her most marketable asset . . . her body.

But when fate sends Isabella back into Hepplewood’s arms, the earl must make an impossible choice—draw Isabella down into his sensual darkness, or behave with honor for the first time in his life.

REVIEW: To say that I am a fan of this author would be an understatement. I believe I have every book she’s written and some are print, some on my Kindle and some, as is this one, on both Kindle, copy and audio. Yeah, I am that kind of a bookworm.

I’ve read all the others in this series, so naturally I had to read this one too. Let me say at the outset that I loved the Victorian setting as much as I loved the characters. As a matter a fact, I had to wrestle between liking and loving this story because of one thing that I’m not a huge fan of: BDSM.

Now, before you start on me, let me explain why I had a bit of a problem with it. At first I thought “here we go again with ‘Fifty Shades of Gray'”, but as I thought more on it, I realized that for some reason the narrative worked within this story and by the end of the book, I accepted it and thought it was handled with thoughtfulness and care to the characters and who they were.

Both hero and heroine were very complex individuals and both had shades of grey and weren’t just “good” or “bad”. They had flaws and a lot of baggage that needed to be worked through and I had a lot of fun watching them do just that.

In the end, I loved the story and highly recommended it you read.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘A Bride by Moonlight’ by Liz Carlyle

lc abbmSTORY: Royden Napier, Baron Saint-Bryce, is tall, dark, and ruthless—and on the hunt for a dangerous beauty . . .

On the eve of her escape to the Continent, bold, beautiful Lisette Colburne accepts a proposal she dare not refuse: masquerade as the future bride of the steely-eyed Royden Napier and help him solve his most dangerous case. Soon Lisette is in even greater danger—of losing her heart to the one man with the power to destroy her . . .

Estranged from his aristocratic family, the enigmatic Napier has forged a reputation as Scotland Yard’s most relentless police commissioner. He’s vowed to bring Lisette to justice—but with every forbidden kiss and every tantalizing touch, he finds himself becoming less convinced of her guilt . . . and more certain he must have her. But when danger touches Lisette, can he save her?

REVIEW: It looks like I reviewed book five of this series [Fraternitas Aureae Crucis series] ‘In Love With a Wicked Man’ before I did book four, which is this one. Don’t ask me how that happened!

In regards to the reading of this series, it really helps to read this whole series in its order, which you can get here.

The series is worth the read as a whole because all the characters and plots are really well-developed and the pace in each is fast, so you’re never bored.

Another reason to read them all is the huge cast of characters, supporting and recurring, such as our hero, Napier Royden. He was in these books from the get go, so if you don’t read book one, you’ll miss his characterization, and let me tell you, he is one great character.

You also would be better off to have read ‘The Bride Wore Pearls’ because of the thread of this story, which picks up at the end of that book. Get the picture now?

Right off the bat I was taken with this story and its hero. He is very likable. It took just a wee bit longer for me to like Lisette, but I did. She went through a lot in her young life, but she was stronger for it. Both hide some serious secrets, but once aired out, there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for one another.

In truth, everything in this story just clicks. I enjoyed the romance of it as much as I did the mystery. Its trope, “fake engagement”, has been done before, but Ms. Carlyle is undoubting and puts her own spin on it, while giving us a mystery, mayhem and murder. I didn’t see that curve ball coming!

I highly recommend it to everyone that loves ‘who-done-it’ with really sweet and sensual romance. If you like stories of unconditional love and forgiveness, this one’s for you. It was a win-win for me because this is one of my ‘Keeper Shelf’ authors.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘In Love With a Wicked Man’ by Liz Carlyle

ILWAWM LCSTORY: What does it matter if Kate, Lady d’Allenay, has absolutely no marriage prospects? She has a castle to tend, an estate to run, and a sister to watch over, which means she is never, ever reckless. Until an accident brings a handsome, virile stranger to Bellecombe Castle, and Kate finds herself tempted to surrender to her houseguest’s wicked kisses.

Disowned by his aristocratic family, Lord Edward Quartermaine has turned his gifted mind to ruthless survival. Feared and vilified as proprietor of London’s most notorious gaming salon, he now struggles to regain his memory, certain of only one thing: he wants all Kate is offering—and more.

But when Edward’s memory returns, he and Kate realize how much they have wagered on a scandalous passion that could be her ruin, but perhaps his salvation

REVIEW: For all those that thought Ned, one of the secondary characters from Ms. Carlyle’s Fraternatis series should have his own story, get ready! Here it comes! 

Ned Quartermaine is very handsome and sophisticated, but not a likable fellow. He’s been through a lot as a child and that has taught him to always look out for number one. himself. He’s a calculating and ruthless owner of a very notorious high-end gambling establishment. His patrons are crème de la crème of aristocracy, and they know better than to cross him. Wicked is something this man is closely acquainted with. As we meet Ned after the accident as ‘Edward’ we can’t help but like him. The combination of wicked ‘Ned’ and charismatic ‘Edward’ makes him simply irresistible.

Kate, Lady d’Allenay is practical, plain and reliable. She’s not a beauty like her younger sister, but she has a radiance, wit and charm that shine through her. She cares deeply for her title, lands and especially for her family. Honesty is something she values above all else.

Now, as trope’s go, this one has been done to death, yet Ms. Carlyle manages to infuse her story with two interesting, entertaining and very likable characters that you’ll ever meet.

Kate and Edward made this story shine! Kate may not captivate the ton, but she enchanted Edward, yet once Ned came out of his coma, he doubted she would give him a chance. I thought they were adorable together. The characters were well-developed and Ms. Carlyle has just proven to me once again, why I love her story telling. She takes her time in introducing these characters not just to each other, but to me, the reader. She doesn’t rush the plot or the romance. The tension is built slowly and carefully so that I can feel it in my bones. I’m made to savor their attraction and then…*sigh* …as they come together, I turn into a puddle! Once more the author impresses with a wit and originality in dialog as she pens another enchanting tale that is joining my keeper shelf.

Oh how happy I was after I was done with this book! To read a story you love from an author you love, is a very special thing. It makes you feel fuzzy, proud and giddy-all at once! Please don’t miss this well written, steady paced story that offers a solid plot that will immerse you into Kate and Edward’s world so deeply that you’ll be sorry to leave them after you’re done reading their story.

‘In Love with a Wicked Man’ is one book you cannot afford to miss this year.

Melanie for b2b

*Book provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.

‘The Bride Wore Pearls’ by Liz Carlyle

TBWP LKSTORY: Beneath the elegant façade of Victorian high society, the mysterious men of the St. James Society play only by rules of danger and desire.

Rance Welham, the Earl of Lazonby, has survived scandal and disgrace, even evading the Queen’s justice at the end of a hangman’s rope. Now he’s about to gamble everything on something far more dangerous—desire.

An exotic and elegant beauty, Lady Anisha Stafford fled her native India to seek refuge within London’s secretive St. James Society. But accepting protection from someone called a cold-hearted killer is a double-edged sword . . . especially when he’s the most intriguing man Anisha has ever laid eyes upon.

In a world where treachery abounds, no one can be trusted—and no true passion can be denied. Together, these two tempestuous souls will risk their lives for a love that could redeem them . . . or destroy everything they hold dear.

REVIEW: After three years of having this blog and many, MANY reviews under my belt now, I find that for me, the hardest reviews to write are those of the books written by the authors I love.

The reason for that is, either I love the book and in that case I’m afraid to come across as a blubbering sales clerk while I enthusiastically want to convey to all of you how much I loved reading it…OR…I didn’t like the book and in that case I’m afraid to come across as an author hater, while I again, enthusiastically try to convey the reasons behind my dislike of the read material…

I’m a huge, HUGE fan of this author. I believe I have every book she’s ever written on my ‘keeper shelf’. And while I like her writing style, it’s her dialogue through all her books that I love the most.

[“Madam, were I intent on debauching you, I’d have had your drawers round your ankles days ago,” he returned.  “All I did was kiss you—and not entirely without your consent.”- A Deal with the Devil]

[“I’m afraid, Johnny-Boy, that I’ve just made it my concern.” His voice was lethally soft. “Touch her again without her express request, and the next thing you’ll be touching is the trigger on a dueling pistol. And if those clever Cambridge dons of yours gave you any grasp of ballistics, physics, or the laws of probability, then you’ll be pissing down your leg and praying to your Maker when you do it. Because I don’t miss. Now take that bit of wisdom back to Essex, Mr. Ellows, and stuff it up your priggish Papa’s arse.” – The Devil You Know]

[“I do not know, my lord, what sort of witless females you are accustomed to tricking with that tripe of yours, but I shan’t fall for it. I don’t flirt. I won’t be your mistress. And I don’t believe in fairy tales, leprechauns, or fortune-tellers, either. You are arrogant and asinine and you-you—why, you are an arrant rake! And I’m certainly not fool enough to think arrant rakes can be redeemed.”

Grayston grew very still, the glitter slowly leaving his gaze. “My dear Lady Middleton! You are about to run out of insults which begin with A,” he said. “I shall relieve you of your burden before you proceed apace to the B’s. I can only guess which of those you’d hurl first.” – Hunting Season]

You see where I’m going with this?

‘The Bride Wore Pearls’ is part of a Fraternitas series and personally, I was looking forward to it as I liked the first story, but as the series got under way, I was having a hard time getting into it. Its plots became too elaborate and slow developing while the romances left me detached and lukewarm.

The only reason for me to recommend this book would be its main characters. I found both to be very strong, capable and mature, but even their romance felt a bit forced to me.

I’m really torn about this one…I really would like you to read this author because she’s very good at telling beautiful, romantic, sensual and complex stories. It’s just that this one isn’t my cup of tea…

If you’ve never read her before, please find her back list on her website and sample the excerpts. I know you’ll like it.

Melanie for b2b

*Book provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.