Beauty Like the Night, by Liz Carlyle

>> Thursday, May 27, 2004

I love Liz Carlyle! Since the last I'd read, No True Gentleman, had been a little disappointing, I didn't remember exactly how good her early books were until I started to reread them.

Beauty Like the Night is the third book the author published and, unlike many of the books that followed, it's not related to the previous ones.

The daughter of London’s wickedest widow, Helene de Severs has learned to govern her own reckless emotions. Renowned within Europe’s emerging field of psychiatric medicine, Helene has a gift for healing children. When fate sends her back to the village she once left in disgrace, Helene is confident she can govern her own reckless emotions, too.

The Earl of Treyhern has dragged his family back from the brink of ruin. But a disastrous marriage has left him with a traumatized child, and his rebellious brother Bentley is just one step ahead of the bailiffs. When his father drops dead while debauching the governess, Treyhern’s famous self-control almost snaps. Desperately in need of a good governess, Treyhern hires the very best. And when Helene steps down from his carriage, his resolve is truly tested—by a rush of desire he’d long thought dead.
Amazing, an A-.

I just love the way Carlyle writes. Her writing style is sumptuous, opulent, lyrical, lush, even, but NOT purple... quite a feat! I've no idea if her research is accurate or not, but the period comes alive through her writing.

Add to that the fact that she's a wonderful storyteller and that she's created fascinating characters, too, and you see why I loved this so much.

The story itself was great, very sensual and moody, and I liked that it's mostly character driven. There's a suspense subplot that is latent throughout but only comes to the forefront near the end, for the dénouement, luckily, because it's not really too interesting and much too obvious.

Cam and Helena, on the other hand, are interesting and are not at all obvious. Cam is a man who has reacted to his father's womanizing and debauchery by trying to become his exact opposite. He's sober and serious, and about to marry for duty, and he really doesn't know what hits him when Helene, the young woman he fell in love with as a teenager, shows up. He just can't stop lusting after her and she evokes feelings he has no idea how to deal with. He keeps trying not to be like his father, but being near Helene makes him a little crazy. I loved it!

Helena was a wonderful character, too. She's sophisticated and knowledgeable, and doesn't make it easy for him. My only disappointment is that the author makes her a virgin, thus in a way making this like those clichéd stories about a women falling in love as teens and pining chastely after the guys for years, while those same guys have their fun all over the place. Still, at least she wasn't a naive twit.

And those two together were steamy hot. Carlyle really does know her way around a love scene ;-) Oh, and those flashbacks to their original relationship were wonderfully sexy, too, with the 18 and 17 year-old kids crazy about each other. Is it sick of me that I love reading about those very sexual teenage crushes... Brockmann's Unsung Hero, Laura Moore's Night Swimming, for instance?

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