A Woman of Virtue, by Liz Carlyle

>> Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I just can't stop rereading my Liz Carlyle books! My next read was A Woman of Virtue.

In the months since her husband’s death, Cecilia, Lady Walrafen, has hidden her emptiness by devoting herself to a charity mission for the poor women of London’s slums. But when the man who once tried to ruin her reputation turns up at the Nazareth Society, Cecilia is outraged.

The womanizing Lord Delacourt is vain, vindictive, and merciless. But he’s a man who honors his wagers. And when one of them goes wrong, landing him in a charity mission for prostitutes, he comes face-to face with the young woman whose reputation he once nearly ruined—and whose lips he has never forgotten. Soon, however, evil is stalking the women of the Nazareth Society, and only Delacourt knows how to guard Cecilia from the consequences of her own principles.
Yet another fascinating read. A B+.

As always, I'm bowled over by Carlyle's way with words. I've described her style as lush and sumptuous and opulent, and this holds for this book, too. This makes for a slow read, because I want to savour every one of her words, but it's a very intense read, and it's worth it.

In this book we start seeing quite a few characters we've already met in previous books... the hero, Delacourt, for instance, is the brother of Jonet, from A Woman Scorned, and we see a lot of Bentley Rutledge, brother of Cameron, from Beauty Like The Night. I actually liked this, mostly because I'd read the previous books not too long ago. If this had been my first Carlyle, I might have been a little irritated. Though I always could have resorted to the author's website and her Who's Who">family trees... ;-)

The romance itself was wonderful, starting from an adversarial relationship that felt realistic and evolving slowly and believably to something more. David is an amazing character, vulnerable and hurt, needing Cecilia but not wanting to acknowledge it, and I loved that once Cecilia really sees him for the person he is, she immediately allows herself to follow her impulses and love him. My only problem with this two was a little thing about Cecilia... I groaned when I realized she was one of those strange creatures which for some reason abound so much in romance novels... the Virgin Widow! Wonderful love scenes, though.

I wasn't too crazy about the setup, actually, with Cole and Jonet, from A Woman Scorned, transforming into those stereotypical matchmaking monsters every single married couple in RomanceLand seems to become, for some strange reason. However, if one can overlook this, the situation set up is really good, forcing David and Cecilia together.

Any flaws other than that? Well, there's something that was a bit of a flaw to me, but I've got strange tastes. Suspense subplot. It feels like Carlyle has progressively been adding more and more suspense subplot to her books. My False Heart had practically none, A Woman Scorned and Beauty Like the Night had non-obtrusive ones. in A Woman of Virtue it becomes substantial, and we're "treated" again and again to scenes showing David and/or Cecilia following clues to the murders of some of the girls from the mission. It wasn't a bad suspense subplot, not at all! It's just that the romance was so much more interesting, that I resented the distraction.

Anyway, on the whole, A Woman of Virtue was wonderful. I've forced myself to wait a bit before tackling another by this author, but the minute I finished this one, the only thing I wanted was to grab the next.


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