August 2012, European Historical Romance (1835 London)
Avon, $7.99, 432 pages, Amazon ASIN 0061965774 Part of a series
On page 348, the hero starts maundering on and on about his first impressions of the heroine, and she cuts him off with a sharp elbow to the ribs. Holy crap – if only someone had done that in the editing phase. Then I wouldn’t have lost four weeks of my life to a book that felt reams longer than a measly 432 pages.
Problem #1: Don’t read this book if you haven’t read the other books in the (sub)series, aka Liz Carlyle’s woo-woo Avon historicals, and preferably quite recently. I have read the other Fraternitas books, and I was still lost.
Problem #2: Speaking of series, it’d be nice to have read the other books in the Liz Carlyle canon, many of which are connected and tentacle and linger wispingly in the ether to The Bride Wore Pearls. Well, I have read almost all of them. And I still forgot who was who and who had married whom, and how they’re all one big happy family. More importantly, I sure as hell had stopped caring.
Problem #3: This book lost the plot. Badly. We’re dealing with Lady Anisha Stafford’s acculturation difficulties in London as an Anglo-Indian; Rance, Lord Lazonby trying to discover who framed him eight years ago to be hanged; Anisha and Lazonby dealing and not dealing with their attraction; Fraternitas issues from the previous book; Anisha’s worries about her children (neither of whom feature prominently, which is both accurate and worrying for such a supposedly caring mother); and Lazonby’s own issues, which are far too many and muddled to describe here.
Problem #4: None of the above is explained clearly. At all. It was a bloody maze, and I am not only conversant with the Liz Carlyle universe – I adore it, particularly the earlier books. The only thing even halfway straightforward in this book are the sex scenes, which I found uninteresting because I really didn’t give a crap about Nish and Rance.
Just to be clear – it pains me to write this review. But call it karmic balance, because it pained me to read the book. The opening chapters, with Rance at the hangman’s noose and Nish stepping off the boat from India, grabbed me, and I settled in for a satisfying read. And this is still Liz Carlyle we're talking about, she of the cutting lines and fabulous prose. Well, cut out satisfying, insert “long and arduous," and here I am four weeks later. I expect better than this from Ms. Carlyle.
-- Jean Wan
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