No True Gentleman, by Liz Carlyle

>> Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I first read No True Gentleman (excerpt), by Liz Carlyle in mid 2002, during a time when the situation in my country was pretty unsettled - the whole financial system seemingly failing, supermarkets being looted, the local currency crashing... In the midst of that, I was reading this book and finding it hard to get into it. Was it the book or was I just (understandably) distracted?

After a year in mourning for her husband, Lady Catherine Wodeway has come to London to escape her grief. And even though she’s a country girl, Cat realizes that no true gentleman would presume to kiss a lady senseless without a proper introduction—not even to save her life. Yet somehow, police inspector Max de Rohan’s dark good looks and mysterious past make it all too easy to forget that she’s a lady.

Although de Rohan is stunned by Catherine’s beauty, honest, and charm, he knows firsthand that getting mixed up with a noblewoman can end badly. But when Catherine stumbles onto the key to his murder investigation, he will risk everything to pull her out of danger and into his arms. Too late, he realizes that Catherine’s brother Bentley is his prime suspect...
After rereading it now, I think I simply wasn't in the right frame of mind to read anything at that time. It wasn't my favourite Carlyle, but it was excellent. A B+.

Catherine and Max were mature people.

Max was a fascinating character. First of all, he wasn't British, which made him one in a million in the world of Regency-set romances. He was part Italian, part Alsatian and part Catalonian. Carlyle really worked to create his background. He was an aristocrat by birth, but his upbringing in England as a war refugee and his work as an investigator first for the River Police and then for the Home Office gave him some interesting rough edges.

These rough edges made his romance with Catherine earthier and more... carnal, I guess I could call it, than the other books I've read by this author. And Carlyle's prose adapted to this, and lost much of the sumptuousness and lushness that usually characterized it, becoming better suited to the story.

I liked Catherine, too, though she was a less interesting character than Max. I liked that she was no innocent virgin, but a widow, and one who had a good first marriage and enjoyed the sex. She actually missed this aspect of being married, and was open to the possibility of taking Max as a lover because of this.

What I enjoyed less here was the suspense subplot. That's something I'd noticed before, that Carlyle has progressively been giving the suspense subplots more and more space in each book. It was my main criticism of Woman of Virtue, and given Max's job, this aspect was given even more space here.

Still, that's a small problem, and on the whole, this was a very good book.


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