Sunday, March 24, 2013
Liz Carlyle's Fabulous Debut
Liz Carlyle is one of my favorite historical romance writers. I was very late coming to her, but I've devoured nearly all her books since discovering her a couple of years ago with the marvelous THE DEVIL TO PAY.
With one exception. For quite a while, I've had Liz's debut romance MY FALSE HEART sitting on my bookcase. And for some reason whenever I reached for the next book to read, this one wasn't picked up. I wonder if it's the black cover!
Anyway, last Christmas, I had a little historical binge, including the first two of Liz's St. James Society series, ONE TOUCH OF SCANDAL and THE BRIDE WORE SCARLET. And of course, having read two great books by one great author, I looked around for another one and remembered (d'uh!) that I had MY FALSE HEART on the office bookcase.
Wow, what a fantastic story. MY FALSE HEART was published in November, 1999. It's long, closer in feeling to a Laura Kinsale like FLOWERS FROM THE STORM than to the quicker reads in style these days. Small print. No white space at the end of chapters. Over 450 pages. Definitely a feast of hearty roast beef and gravy rather than a quickly gobbled souffle.
Most of Liz's books are linked through the complicated extended family and social connections of the Marquis of Rannoch who makes an appearance in many of the later instalments, usually as an all-powerful eminence grise. While you get a bit of backstory in later books, it was nice to be in on the ground floor, so to speak, and see the marquis fall in love in the story that launched a thousand sequels (well, lots anyway!).
After a wanton coquette breaks Elliot Armstrong's heart when he's a naive young Scottish lord, fresh on the London marriage market, he sets out in a fury to make himself the worst of the worst. And he succeeds to a point where the world considers him ready to commit any and all sins.
Ten years later, he's on his way to break with his latest mistress when he becomes lost in the Essex fog and stumbles upon a house that seems to promise all the warmth and love and redemption that he has come to believe forever denied to him. And inside this house is a woman who lures him as no other ever has. Under false pretenses, he inveigles his way into talented artist Evangeline Stone's life and finds a place in her family and in her heart.
But what happens when she finds out that kind Mr. Roberts is really the notoriously dissolute Marquis of Rannoch? Not to mention that Evangeline has secrets of her own that place her and her loved ones in jeopardy. An entanglement with the most infamous man in England means danger and scandal for this innocent, yet strong woman. She's no pushover; she's smart and independent and she's used to managing her life. Rannoch needs to work hard to get his happy ending, especially once the cat is out of the bag about his identity.
The plot gallops along with twists and turns worthy of Dickens. There are murders and disappearances and duels. Not to mention a marriage of convenience, one of my favorite plot devices. And all the time, our libertine of a marquis is dragged kicking and screaming toward becoming a genuine hero. Loving Evangeline gives him his one chance at redemption, but he doesn't turn into an honorable man willingly.
One of the lovely things about a big feast of a book like this is that you have plenty of room for vivid secondary characters, many of whom go on to play major roles in later Liz Carlyle stories. One of my favorite ongoing characters is Rannoch's acerbic and very worldly wise valet Kemble. And we get glimpses of a whole batch of future heroes and heroines including Zoe, Rannoch's illegitimate daughter who has a wonderful romance later in WICKED ALL DAY (reviewed here: http://www.theromancedish.com/2010/03/wickedly-wonderful.html).
Another lovely thing about this book is that the descriptions of setting are so vivid, you really feel like you're wandering the foggy Essex marshes or the dark and dangerous streets of London. Again, the use of atmosphere to build the story is worthy of Dickens.
And of course there's Liz's wonderful trademark crescendo of sexual tension between the hero and heroine. She writes the complex dance of falling in love beautifully and you'll be entranced watching the wary, heartless marquis fall helplessly under the spell of a good woman. The love scenes are incendiary, hot and emotional and full of subtle character revelations.
OK, enough raving. You've probably gathered that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was really glad I had a free day when I could just wallow in its wonders. This is a big satisfying banquet for the historical romance lover.
So are you a Liz Carlyle fan? Do you have a favorite? Do you have any authors whose debut books really made you sit up and pay attention?
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
I have several of her books on my TBR pile but I too tend to overlook her as my next choice. THIS WILL CHANGE!ReplyDelete
Laurie, seriously, read her! I suppose it would be most sensible to read the books in order but I haven't and it doesn't seem to have affected my immense enjoyment.Delete
Debut authors: Theresa Romain, Heather Snow, Sherry Thomas, Tessa Dare and Tiffany Clare all caught my attention and I loved their first books!ReplyDelete
Ooh, great choice in debut authors there, Laurie!Delete
I have long read anything I could get my hands on by Liz Carlyle...and will continue to do so...but I haven't read My False Heart (how did I miss that one?)...and am going to go and buy it now!!! email@example.comReplyDelete
Janice, how cool! Love that I've encouraged you to go out and get the book. It's SOOOOO interesting reading where all that complicated family originated. Hope you have fun with My False Heart!Delete
I haven't ready a Liz Carlyle book, that I can remember. You've written a fab review, Anna, but the line that jumped out me, literally, was "Rannoch needs to work hard to get his happy ending, especially once the cat is out of the bag about his identity." Heroes shouldn't just have things always fall into place and one who has a bad rap and reputation is going to win me over more if he really wants the heroine to realize his worth. Kind of like Suzanne Enoch's hero Saint. What say you, Andrea?ReplyDelete
I will get this book because, even though I usually don't like bad boys, so to speak, I like the fact that the hero knows he needs to change for the love of a good woman.
Deb, so glad the review piqued your interest. She's such a great writer - hope this spurs you on to read more of her stuff. When Rannoch falls deeper and deeper into his lies, you're sitting there saying, "Come clean! Come clean! You know that the longer this goes on, the worse it will be for everyone." But of course, he doesn't listen to me! ;-)Delete
I'm not a Liz Carlyle fan but I will be after reading your review. I love Romance and I'll be looking for her book. One of my new favorite author is Sherri Thomas. Just discovered her about a year back and she's outrageous. Love your review and I am hooked!ReplyDelete
Hi Sela! Thanks so much for swinging by. Hope you like Liz's books when you get to them - it's wonderful when you find a new author with a BIG backlist! ;-)Delete
Hi Anna! Love Liz Carlyle but I've never read her debut. Will have to give it a go.ReplyDelete
I'm away from my computer today and conserving phone battery so can't respond individually to comments. Thanks to everyone for stopping by!
Hi PJ! Are you off at another dance contest? I've loved seeing the photos on Facebook! Thanks again for hosting me. And when you get a chance, give this a go! It's well worth reading.Delete
I checked my tbr piles and see that I have One Little Sin by Liz Carlyle. Seems like I need to do some shuffling again lol. I use to be such a stickler for reading in order but then books languish in my tbr pile so recently I just jumped into a series by Grace Burrowes and hopefully it wont' matter lol.ReplyDelete
Hi Catslady! Thanks for swinging by. I've read ALL Liz Carlyle's books out of order (although the more recent series like the One Little Sin lot or the Morning/Night duo, I read in order). I don't really think it makes that much difference. She's pretty good at catching you up on who's who. I really loved the One/Two/Three series - great one to start with.Delete
I have her books on my TBR mountain, but am not sure if I have read any by her. I have a "bad" habit of getting books by new-to-me authors because they sound good and never getting around to reading them. I'll then read a story by them in an anthology and see what I have been missing (just did this last week with Julia Quinn.). The advantage is I can start indulging immediately and not have to wait to buy something. I do not recognize the cover of MY FALSE HEART, so I'll have to go looking. Better to start at the beginning and get to know the characters. It will make the later books richer reads.ReplyDelete
Thanks for another good review and the push to dig into my TBR mountain.
Hi Pat! I know exactly what you mean about the TBR mountain. I've actually slowed on buying new books for the last six months or so just to clear away a few books that I bought and never got around to reading. I've discovered some real gems lurking there (including this one!). Think you'll like Liz's books!Delete
I am a big, big LC fan, and I totally love Kimble, I so want him to have his own book someday. Whenever there is a discussion about secondary characters taking over the story Kimble is always the first one I think of but of course at that moment in time I can't remember his name, Liz's name or any of the titles.......sigh....this whole short term memory loss is a dragReplyDelete
Dianna, I had to giggle at your post. I had exactly this discussion with a friend of mine over the weekend. Both of us want to put up posters offering rewards for the return of our memories. I've always had a pretty good memory which means losing it is the pits. I haven't worked out any coping techniques because I've never had to! Oh, you're so right about Kimble. He just steals every scene he's in.Delete
I love it when you review an older book, Anna. My False Heart is a great choice.ReplyDelete
I've been a Liz Carlyle fan since I read A Woman Scorned a dozen or more years ago. I think I've read all her books. Choosing a favorite is difficult, but if forced to do so, I'd probably go with The Devil You Know, one of the best forced marriage stories in romance fiction.
I have a long list of authors who joined my autobuy list on the strength of their debut novels, beginning with Mary Balogh and Jo Beverley. Cecilia Grant is one of the newer additions. I just read A Woman Entangled, and it confirmed my reaction to A Lady Awakened, her 2011 debut novel: she is an extraordinary writer.
Janga, Bentley was a lovely hero, wasn't he? I think we've spoken before about how much we love her books. I actually think right now she'd probably be my favorite historical author, which is saying something. She's so consistently good over the whole backlist and it's a BIG backlist! Great selection of debut authors. It was Mary Balogh's birthday yesterday, did you know?Delete
I don't think I could choose a single favorite author since I have so many whose books I consistently love. But Carlyle rates high with me, and she's especially good with tortured heroes (as you are) and perhaps the very best at labyrinthine plotting, as I noted recently in my review of her latest, A Bride by Moonlight, which I loved. I was awed by all the mysteries she wove into that one.Delete
Janga, I've got Bride by Moonlight on the TBR pile (and the latest Madeline Hunter - she's another fave of mine). Thank you for saying that about tortured heroes - actually my next guy is almost normal! What a shock! You're so right about her labyrinthine (love that word!) plotting. And she's so good at juggling lots of characters without sacrificing tension or plot development.Delete
I think I've only read one of Liz Carlyle's books. I keep meaning to read another. A few debut authors that were impressive: Sherry Thomas, Julie James, Sarah Maclean, Meredith Duran and Cecilia Grant.ReplyDelete
Kim, great list of debut authors. Give Liz another go - I find the more of her books I read, the more I like her!Delete
I don't think I have read her books before but I do have authors who's debut book really draws me in. Kaki Warner to mention one.ReplyDelete
Quilt Lady, I haven't read Kaki Warner. I remember the buzz about her debut so I really should. Definitely give Liz C a go!Delete
I have a couple of her books, but on still on the shelf. I will have to check them out. I debut author that I have read since her first book came out is Jodi Redford, Melissa Schroeder, Elle Kennedy, and EL James. I love finding new authors and then spreading the love.ReplyDelete
Chris, thanks for the list of great debuts! I love finding new authors and then spreading the word too. It's one of the real delights of having a platform like this review space on the Romance Dish!Delete
Hi, Anna! Great review! I still have not had a chance to read a Liz Carlyle book, but I loved this line from your review: "Definitely a feast of hearty roast beef and gravy rather than a quickly gobbled souffle." Wow, that makes me want to read it! I hope to have time to do some reading for pleasure soon! :)ReplyDelete
Andrea, you know I've been NAGGING you for ages to read Liz Carlyle! I hear you on the time factor. That's one of the lovely things about taking that time off over Christmas just to have a wallow in the TBR pile. I got enough books for a whole stack of reviews here just in that one week. So I could almost say it wasn't just leisure. ALMOST! ;-)Delete
Anna, please continue to nag away. Like a child, one day I'll listen and cave. Of course, I have no idea what "time off" means. Hahaha!Delete
Wow, that sounds like a great book! I am reading a debut from Jennifer McQuiston right now! What Happens in Scotland. I would say some debut books that have sold me were When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer, The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand and How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back by Sophie Barnes.ReplyDelete
Sharlene, I've heard such great things about Jennifer's debut. It's a fun premise, isn't it? It's on my TBR pile! Thanks for checking out the review!Delete
Thanks, guys, for another day of stimulating discussion here on the Romance Dish. Check back next month when I'm talking about Jenny Crusie's wonderful MAYBE THIS TIME.ReplyDelete
Liz Carlyle is one of my all-time favorite authors. I've read several of her books and have several more on my ultra large TBR shelves. I rate books I read on a scale of 1-4. I read My False Heart but strangely enough, I rated it 3.5 and the other 8 books I've read, 7 got a 4 rating and one got a 3. I enjoyed MFH a lot, but I liked other books better.ReplyDelete
Shana Galen's debut book of When Dashing Met Danger was excellent...as are her following books. Same for Emily Bryan (aka Mia Marlowe). Her early books were great. I also enjoyed reading the debut books by Kieran Kramer, Sophia Barnes, and Sherry Thomas, just to name a few. Plus, if no one has read Sally MacKenzie, do yourself a favor and find her Naked series. It starts with The Naked Duke. All the books in that series are so much fun to read.
Hi Karen! So glad to see you're a Liz C fan. I love the complexity of her characters and the strong emotion she gets into her stories. Definitely books I read in one go! Great list of books to recommend. Oh, my aching TBR pile!ReplyDelete
Liz Carlyle is on my reading list since I've only been reading historical romance for a little over a year now. And I love reading debut authors. Recently I've very much enjoyed Ashlyn MacNamara's A Most Scandalous Proposal, Jennifer McQuiston's It Happens in Scotland, and Valerie Bowman's Secrets of a Wedding Night.ReplyDelete