One Little Sin, by Liz Carlyle

>> Friday, October 14, 2005

In the last couple of years, Liz Carlyle has become a total autobuy author for me. I don't even check out what her new books are about before I buy them, much less wait for a review to come out.

Her latest, One Little Sin, is the first in her new Sins, Lies and Secrets trilogy, vaguely related to her late 2004 book The Devil To Pay.

Sir Alasdair MacLachlan is a dashing man-about-town, too charming for his own good, and a bit of a notorious bounder. But Sir Alasdair’s cavalier past is about to catch up with him when a beautiful stranger arrives on his doorstep with a basket full of surprises.

Miss Esmée Hamilton is a gentlewoman tossed out of the home and life she knew in Scotland by a vindictive stepfather. With her infant sister Sorcha in tow, Esmée makes her way to London by her wits and her tenacity, and calls on the man she holds responsible for their plight. Sir Alasdair MacLachlan, she is confident, has committed more than a few sins. But Esmée vows that Sorcha is one he won’t walk away from.
As much as it pains me to say it, OLS was a bit of a disappointment, and I didn't like it nearly as much as I've liked the rest of her books. It's not bad, but it would be "only" a B- for me.

I just didn't really feel the romance here, and I didn't find myself too captivated by the protagonists. Esmée was likeable, but her characterization was not particularly deep. I never really got a feel for her, for who she was and what she wanted in life.

Alasdair's characterization was a bit better. The dissipated rake who really should have outgrown his dissipation a good 10 years earlier is not a character type I enjoy, but it's a testament to Carlyle's talent that she was able to mostly like him. Still, I would have liked a bit more reassurance that his whoring days were over and that he wouldn't fall into temptation again.

The romance was best when it really got going, in the second part of the book, when Alisdair has to face losing Esmée. Problem is, I just didn't feel that he was so crazy about her before she left. I didn't get the feeling he'd even felt anything but some basic lust for her before that, so, to me, his love for her once she had left came out of nowhere.

In that second half of the book, then, the romance was much better. This is also the point where this story intersects with what will be the storyline of Carlyle's next, Two Little Lies, and I found myself more interested in Quin and Viviana than in Alasdair and Esmée. There's a bit of a whiff of Beauty Like the Night there, even if Quin doesn't seem to be that much like Cam, nor does Viviana seem to be like Helene, and I was intrigued.

I really do like Carlyle's style, though, and I found the book entertaining throghout, which is why I'm giving it a B- instead of the lower grade my above litany of complaints seems to suggest.

Or maybe I'm just still in a good mood thanks to these gentlemen: ;-)


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