Friday, February 22, 2008

Never Lie to a Lady - Liz Carlyle

I usually enjoy Carlyle's books and after reading the short story in the School for Heiresses anthology I thought this might be an interesting series.

The notorious Marquis of Nash is a creature of the night; his wealth and his title provide but a tenuous entrée into polite society. With his Eastern European manners and dark elegance, Nash tempts women even as he tempts the scandalmongers. Rumors abound of the men he has bankrupted and the hearts he has broken. But when Nash leaves his lair for a rare foray into the ton, and enjoys a moment of heated passion with a mysterious lady in the dark, he develops an obsession which will lead him into the hellish world of smugglers, spies, and political intrigue as the Continent edges nearer to war.
Xanthia Neville has arrived in London to expand her family’s most lucrative business holding—Neville Shipping. With her brother Rothewell all too happy to waste his life in debauchery, Xanthia opens up shop in London’s grimy Docklands, and sets about expanding the family fortune, all the while flaunting the ton’s silly strictures about how a lady ought to behave. But London, she soon learns, is not Barbados. And when the British Government approaches Rothewell to ask the family’s help in exposing a dangerous arms dealer, Xanthia must enter society after all, only to find her loyalties torn. Someone in London is fueling the conflict on the Balkan Peninsula by smuggling illicit weapons into the Aegean—and there is only one likely suspect. The Marquis of Nash has the resources, the contacts and, quite possibly, the deeply divided loyalties. But can Xanthia’s subterfuge prove him a traitor to the Crown before her heart is broken?

Now that I've finished I am unsure how to rate it. First of all, the book sounded very modern to me. I think I could believe in an independent, working and experienced heroine but Xanthia seemed too comfortable in bending all the rules, it was like she had a separate set of rules that allowed her to go everywhere and do everything.

Then there’s her relationship with Nash. I really liked Nash by the way and his dialogues with his valet! He was supposedly a rake but the day after they kiss at a party he visits her brother to ask permission to court her. And first the brother, Rothewell, and then Xanthia set him straight about her not being interested in marriage. That struck me as odd! That he, the rake, is immediately proposing after one heated encounter. Then the Neville's are involved in an investigation about rifles' smuggling and Xanthia has the perfect excuse to go near Nash and find out what he knows about it. I had very bad feelings about this, it's easy to see that Nash, who has had a difficult past and has a difficult family to deal with, is falling in love with her and she not only doesn't tell him the truth but doesn't seem to have any strong feelings towards him. It's more a sexual romance with Xanthia being in turns overtly bold or not very experienced. Weird! Then suddenly the whole mystery plot is discovered, Nash forgives Xanthia for having been spying on him and it's the end.

I think it lacked chemistry between the h/h and plot wise it wasn't really interesting. Not to mention that she keeps hinting at some mysterious bad thing that happened to them in Barbados and instead of making me curious I'm starting to feel that there's nothing concrete there. And what's the mystery with Aunt Olivia? Because I really liked her!

Grade: C


  1. They not only lacked chemistry but I had a hard time believing they really had such strong feelings for each other, even in the end. Then, like you said, Xanthia (makes me think of Xena, the warrior princess) is too modern and I just cannot believe someone could live like she did and still be accepted in society. Nash was described as a dangerous and very charismatic man, a rake, someone without morals and then... nothing.
    I couldn't care less about them! Everything is done and solved very quickly and there's no real tension or mystery.
    This is the first book by Carlyle that really disappointed me. The next one was even worst... I cannot say I'm eager to read the 3rd one about the brother. What really annoys me is that she can do so much better!

  2. I haven't read this one but the first thing I thought when I read your review was, Xanthia? Is this fantasy? Where do they find these names I wonder?

  3. The next one is worse? Uh oh...

    And yes the name was really annoying!


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