Review A Bride by Moonlight by Liz Carlyle

 

Title:  A Bride by Moonlight

Author: Liz Carlyle

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant façade of Victorian London in another deliciously intriguing novel featuring the dangerous men of the mysterious St. James Society. 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:

This is the first time I’ve read a book written by Liz Carlyle.  After I finished it, I immediately wanted to read The Bride Wore Pearls, which features Lazonby and Anisha, two of the secondary characters from A Bride by Moonlight.  I enjoyed Carlyle’s writing style, and I’m always up for a good historical romance, which in the case of this title is Victorian England. While I have a few quibbles about the pacing of this book, I did like the characters immensely, especially Napier. Lisette was harder for me to warm up to, but considering all the baggage she has been dragging around since the death of the father and her sister, that was understandable.

Lisette blames Lord Lazonby for the deaths of both her father and her sister.  Having returned to London from the States, where she was raised by her aunt and uncle, she has dreamed of only one thing – revenge!  She has drawn comfort and strength from the thought of getting back at Lazonby, for plotting to make him suffer as painfully as she has.  He stole everything from her, and she is going to collect her pound of flesh.  When attempts to reason with, and then bribe, the straight-laced assistant police commissioner, Napier, fail to propel him to arrest Lazonby, a man he considers the vilest of criminals, she sets out to destroy Lazonby’s life by herself. 

A murder forces them together two years later,  and Napier believes that Lisette might be the murderer, but in a switch of loyalties, she and Lord Lazonby are now providing air-tight alibies for each other.  Napier is skeptical, to say the least, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of both the murder and his two chief suspects’ sudden friendship.  Before he gets far into his investigation, he discovers that he is now the heir of a prosperous estate.  Estranged from his father’s family for his entire life, he has no interest in getting to know his grandfather, Henry Tarleton, Viscount Duncaster, or any of his other relatives, better.  He is forced to visit the estate to investigate the suspicious death of his uncle, though.  In an attempt to foil the matchmaking machinations of his scheming aunt, and to keep Lisette right where he can see her, he forces Lisette to pose as his betrothed.  Once he arrives at Burlingame, he begins to question everything he  believed about both his family and Lisette.

I loved Napier.  What a hottie.  He’s analytical and capable, and he doesn’t give a fig about his inheritance.  He loves his job with the police, and has no intention of giving it up.  His superiors aren’t going to give him a choice about the matter, though, and he is urged to do his duty and take up his rightful position in society.   Though Napier is also stubborn and can be harsh, he also has a heart.  He treated Lisette coldly, though respectfully, at the start of the book, but by the end, he was the first to accept that his feelings for her had changed, and that he couldn’t live without her.  I loved that about him.  Once he realized how he felt, he also realized that he had to tread carefully.  Lisette’s drive for revenge left her twisted and emotionally fragile, and he was terrified of pushing her away from him. 

Once I understood Lisette, I liked her, too.  She is so strong and so fierce, and she won’t let anyone hurt her again.  Losing her family, and then being shuttled off to America, away from everything she had ever known, almost destroyed her.  Her aunt and uncle only agreed to take her in because they were paid to do so.  As time passed, causing Lazonby’s downfall kept Lisette going.  All of her dreams, all of her emotions, were cast aside for her all consuming need for revenge.  I believed that Lisette was ruthless enough to murder a man in cold blood, just as Napier did, and that made her a very interesting heroine, indeed!

The romance between Napier and Lisette developed slowly and realistically, given their mutual suspicion of each other.  As they spent more time together, though, it was obvious that they were a perfect match.  They complimented each other, and gave strength to each other.  Their attraction was unrelenting, and after they got to know each other better, their mutual respect made the romance work for me.  They still didn’t trust each other, and they were keeping big, big secrets from each other, but with the foundation of respect they had built, I knew that they could overcome all of the other obstacles in their lives.

The mystery is fun and I didn’t see the major plot twist coming.  My one quibble with A Bride by Moonlight is that it felt too long, especially near the end. 

Grade: B

Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours

About the author

A lifelong Anglophile, Liz Carlyle cut her teeth reading gothic novels under the bedcovers by flashlight. She is the author of over twenty historical romances, including several New York Times bestsellers. Liz travels incessantly, ever in search of the perfect setting for her next book. Along with her genuine romance-hero husband and four very fine felines, she makes her home in North Carolina.

Review: The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone

 

 

Title: The Seduction of Phaeton Black

Author: Jillian Stone

Publisher:  Brava

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In the gaslit streets of Victorian London, phantoms rule the night, demons dance till dawn, and one supernatural detective dares to be seduced by the greatest power of all. . .

He’s The Man With The Magic Touch

A master of deduction, seduction and other midnight maneuvers, Phaeton Black is Scotland Yard’s secret weapon against things that go bump in the night. His prodigious gifts as a paranormal investigator are as legendary as his skills as a lover, his weakness for wicked women as notorious as his affection for absinthe. But when he’s asked to hunt down a fanged femme fatale who drains her victims of blood, he walks right into the arms of the most dangerous woman he’s ever known. . .

She’s The Devilish Miss Jones

Pressing a knife to his throat–and demanding he make love to her–Miss America Jones uses Phaeton as a willing shield against the gang of pirates chasing her. As deadly as she is, with a derringer tucked in her garter, Miss Jones is not the vampiric killer he’s been staking out–but she may be just what Phaeton needs to crack the case. As the daughter of a Cajun witch, she possesses uncanny powers. As a fearless fighter, she can handle anything from Egyptian mummies to Jack the Ripper. But when an ancient evil is unleashed on the world, she could be his only salvation. . .or ultimate sacrifice.

 

Review:

The Seduction of Phaeton Black is like An Affair with Mr Kennedy on steroids.  I have to admit that I was a little leery before I started reading Jillian Stone’s latest release.  How could it live up to my high expectations?  I loved Mr Kennedy, a sexy romp with a Scotland Yard detective who could easily give Remington Steel or James Bond a run for their money.  He is gifted in everything that he does; he’s a magnificent rider, a crack shot, and can hold his own in a fist fight.  Best of all, he’s a wonderful lover and partner.  Guys like Mr Kennedy don’t exist in  real life because the pressure of being that perfect would quickly cause a seizure.  Cassie had me pulling my hair out a few times, because for such an intelligent lady, she could be so dumb, but Zak needed  to be a hero, and a woman with more common sense wouldn’t have needed rescuing.

In steps Phaeton Black.  I admit that it took me a while to warm up to this guy.  He is rather juvenile and thinks with his crotch instead of his brain.  Probably because most people thinks he nuts due to all of the paranormal sightings he has, but still.  He showed an appalling lack of discretion and caution, but I did finally start to appreciate his character.  He’s a flirt and a player, with no plans of ever getting shackled to one woman.  He doesn’t want kids, either, because he’s afraid that they will be as messed up as he is.  After the death of his mother when he was a young lad, his father had no patience for Phaeton or his supernatural abilities, and quickly packed him off to boarding school.  Poor guy.  I guess an emotional blow like that will warp anyone, especially a guy who sees all of the scary things that go bump in the night.  Best to just pretend to not see them at all.

When America Jones takes him hostage in a dark alley, Phaeton is quick to turn the tables on the desperate lass.  Even though he’s the one held at knife-point, he is quick to take advantage of the situation.  This is the only part of the story that I didn’t like.  I wanted Phaeton to be noble.  He wasn’t.  He was a cad at best, and a sex offender at worst.  Yuck.  Not sexy, not worthy of high regard, and it took almost the entire book for him to redeem himself in my eyes. 

I enjoyed the world building here, and found the addition of paranormal beasts to Victorian England fun and interesting.  Well, not fun for Phaeton, but certainly entertaining for me.  This guy is oozing with supernatural abilities, but because he has repressed them and never learned how to use them, he finds sightings of supernatural creatures disturbing.  America embraces her gifts, and she longs for Phaeton to do the same.  It’s not healthy to suppress  all of that power, and it puts him at a distinct disadvantage when the beasties are on the prowl for a new victim to snack on.  Phaeton’s association with Dr Exeter, a mysterious meddler with powers that give Phaeton pause, slowly convinces him look at his own abilities in a new light.  I am extremely hopeful that between America and Exeter, Phaeton will learn how to develop his gifts without worrying about how others perceive him.   After getting into trouble with his superiors at Scotland Yard, and his father’s rejection, though, I understand his reluctance to do that.

The pacing faltered near the end, but otherwise I had a hard time putting the book down.  I loved America and Exeter, and once Phaeton’s questionable charms finally wore me down, I liked him, too.  It just took a lot longer because he has so many flaws and weaknesses.  Once he started thinking with the head on his shoulders, and not the head in his pants, I did find him much more likeable, and now I can hardly wait for his next adventure.

Grade:  B, leaning to a B+

Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours

Subscribe in a reader

Teaser Tuesday–An Affair with Mr. Kennedy by Jillian Stone

The weekend was all about Mr. Kennedy. What a luscious hunk of man he is.  I love this book, and hated every interruption I suffered while trying to savor this read.  The chemistry between Zak and Cassie was electric, and I could readily believe that he had the power to sweep this intelligent and stubborn woman right off of her feet.

She tucked her arm in his.  He took a long appreciative glance at the lovely woman by his side.  Indeed, she was stunning.  This was the second time in so many days that he wondered what she might look like in nothing at all. “You are entirely too distracting.”

“What was that, Zak?”

He exhaled.  “I’m having wicked thoughts about you.”

And then there is this passage, that surely sent Cassie’s heart galloping out of control.

He turned her in small circles and no longer waltzed at a respectable distance.  Candlelight from the ballroom chandeliers whirled around his face.  Blue eyes deepened to violet as his gaze fell to her mouth.

Cassie tilted up her head and parted her lips.

After rising her ire, Cassie tries to give Zak the cold shoulder.  It doesn’t work very well.  Zak is too blazing hot for a setdown.

“Good night, Cassie.”

“Good night, Mr. Kennedy.”

He reached out and stopped the door from closing. “That is twice now you’ve called me Mr. Kennedy.” Pressing closer, his words fell against plump lips that parted ever so slightly.  “I don’t like it anymore.”

Swoon!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 Subscribe in a reader

Teaser Tuesday–Winterling and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

I just finished Winterling by Sarah Prineas.  What a good book! This is MG fantasy at its best, with a very relatable protagonist, a great big evil to defeat, and a wonderful supporting cast of characters.  Heroine Fer really sealed the deal, though.  She is a caring, brave girl who refuses to let her fears stop her from doing what her heart compels her to.

“Ah.” The Lady fell silent. When she spoke the edge had left her voice. She almost sounded sad.  “Our oaths and our rules bind us together, Gwynnefar. When an oath is broken there is a price. And it is always more than the oath breaker can pay.”

 

While browsing the comments at Dear Author, I discovered The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. The hero has Asperger’s, which immediately caught my interest.  I purchased it for my Kindle, and so far, I am finding it a hard to put down read.  Ian is proving to be a very unique character, to say the least.

 

Beth blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

“I said, you could marry me. I don’t give a damn about your fortune.”

“My lord, why on earth should you ask me to marry you?”

“Because you have beautiful eyes.”

“How do you know?" You’ve not once looked at them.”

“I know.”

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 Subscribe in a reader

Review: No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper

 

 

Title: No Proper Lady

Author: Isabel Cooper

Publisher: Sourcebooks

ISBN: 978-1402259524

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.

England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and no one has any idea that in a few hundred years, demons will destroy it all. Joan plans to keep it that way. All she has to do is take out the dark magician responsible-before he summons the demons in the first place. But as a rough-around-the-edges assassin from that bleak future, she’ll have to learn how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.

Simon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend-until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.

Review:

I was originally attracted to this book by the gorgeous cover.  A quick scan of the synopsis heightened my interest in No Proper Lady.  Terminator meets My Fair Lady?  Heck, yeah, I’ll take that bet!  I eagerly dove into the story, and I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed.  The plot is unique, the setting is intriguing, and I liked both leads.  I can hardly wait for Isabel Cooper’s next book!

Joan is a fighter, and she is one tough chick.  In a last ditch effort to save humanity, she is sent back in time to assassinate the man responsible for the fall of the human race.  Leaving behind everything she has known, and more importantly, everyone that she loves, Joan’s ticket to the past is irrevocably one-way.  She can never go back to be with her family and her friends.  If she fails her mission, she dooms them to death and destruction.  Joan has survived the horrors of her world, and when she arrives in Simon’s, she is taken aback by the beauty and quiet of his world.  Of the future she and her people were robbed of.   The stakes are high in this game of hers, and Joan isn’t about to fail.  For her, failure is simply not an option.

Simon is having a troubling time himself.  His former best friend has betrayed him.  His sister was almost lost to him, a vessel for a demon.  He frets about how he will keep Eleanor safe, and he worries about how far Alex will let his dark arts sway him.  House parties and genteel manners no longer seem important to the English nobleman; everything that he holds dear is now at risk of being sucked into a darkness so evil there will be no escape for any of them.  When Joan’s time travel spell poofs her in front of Simon, he suddenly has an ally and someone who might just understand how urgently Alex needs to be stopped in his tracks.

I love time travel stories, and this one is a good one.  Joan makes a huge sacrifice to make her journey back in time, and Simon, though slightly skeptical of how awful the situation in the future truly is, readily makes enormous sacrifices as well.  There can be no happy ending for Joan’s family – she is separated from them forever.  I wonder if I could have made the same choice.  Could I have left my family behind me forever, in order to save all of my kind from the demons that preyed upon the few humans who remained?  There is little softness or tenderness in Joan, because her world doesn’t allow for that.  I loved the contrast between her and Simon.  Simon has been raised in the lap of luxury, he can’t possibly imagine how awful her world was, and next to Joan, he is soft.  Not weak, but he lacks the cutting hardness that is Joan’s primary trait.  She always expects terrible things to happen, because they always do.  Her whole life has been a struggle to live to see the dawn of another day.

I liked Isabel Cooper’s re-imagined Victorian England where things really do go bump in the night.  I was totally convinced that Simon and Joan would fall for each.  They have both seen some terrible things, and they both have so much fear for the future.  They also find renewed strength together, and the courage to face the horrors that threaten to swallow them whole.  Knowing what the future holds, they are both willing to give their lives to ensure that Alex doesn’t get away with his dabbling with the darkest and cruelest of the demon kind.  I am so glad that I don’t live in Joan’s world, though!l

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher