Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tempted All Night - Liz Carlyle

Lady Phaedra Northampton and Lady Zoe Armstrong are best friends who couldn't be more different from each other. Phaedra is a good girl,
always doing what she's told and being the perfect lady, while Zoe is the bad girl, continually getting into trouble and acting like a hoyden. Even though they are polar opposites, they are also best friends. The pair decides to help each other with their "faults" and stop behaving so predictably. When Phaedra gets involved in solving a mystery with the irresistible rake Tristan Talbot, Lord Avoncliff, sparks fly...and for the first time she behaves completely opposite of the perfect lady she has always been.

Liz Carlyle's latest book includes some characters previously seen (or read about) in other books she wrote. Such is the case with both Lady Phaedra Northampton and Miss Zoe Armstrong. I must confess that I was a bit confused at first and had some trouble locating them in the genealogical tree of Carlyle's characters but after spending sometime looking at this page on Carlyle's site I eventually remembered where I had found them last. People who haven't been reading previous books should have no such problem btw.

Phaedra and Zoe strike a friendship in the beginning of the book and it’s immediately clear that this is Phaedra's story and the next book will be about Zoe, this is good because I really enjoyed Zoe, I'm sure she is going to be a very independent and determined heroine and I really want to read her story.

Phaedra is a proper society young lady, she has shun society for the past few years and only comes to town to keep an eye on her mother and sister who spend too much time going to parties and shopping. She is the sister of ... and while he would prefer that Phaedra would also attend some social events she really isn't in the mood. She also came to town to find one of her maids who decided to leave work in the country and find some easier way to make money.

Tristan has long been the family's black sheep. His mother wasn't well accepted in his father's family and they eventually separated leaving him, a child still, alone and ignored. This lead him to grow up more interesting in having a good time and flirting with every woman in sight than accepting his responsibilities as an Earl's son and heir. But now his father is dying and he can't find it in him to refuse one last request to uncover a plot that threatens England's security.

One of the interesting things about Tempted All Night is that there are several mysteries to solve, where is the maid that Phaedra is looking for? What happened in Phaedra’s past? What is Tristan involved in? Another is that it is very action packed, right in the beginning a man is murdered at Phaedra's feet and the fact that he is involved in the plot that Tristan is investigating is what brings them together.

So Tristan is wild and reckless while Phaedra is more controlled and less sociable. But they were both interesting characters (I liked Tristan better) and the attraction between them develops quickly. My main problem with the story is that Carlyle used their physical relationship almost as a healing process for Phaedra and while I, in theory, have no problem with that it did annoy me here and I felt there was too much sex (and the type of sex) where it could have been more story and character development. That did bring the book lower in my grading scale.

The book also deals with some darker subjects - like brothels and sexual slavery, the violence of the spy's plot, women abuse, S&M - which contributes to make me conclude that while this is better than most books out there it's still not as good as her previous books. I am very interested in Zoe's story, by the way, and find it odd that there's almost no information on the internet about it.

Grade: 3.5/5

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