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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Devil You Know

****½ The Devil You Know by Liz Carlyle. Historical romance.

This is actually the second book by Liz Carlyle I've read, but I just haven't gotten around to writing about the first one yet. I got No True Gentleman for free on my e-reader... which turned out to be a great marketing technique, because I loved it, and decided to look for more. A friend gave me this one after I raved about No True Gentleman. Thanks, Sangeeta!

Frederica d'Avillez didn't "take" during her season, but that's okay, because she's been unofficially engaged to Johnny anyway, and just waiting for him to come back from his Grand Tour to make things official. Except that when Johnny comes back, he tells her his father says he has to marry his cousin.

So when Freddie runs across Bentley Rutledge, long-time family friend and rakish rogue (roguish rake?), in the garden in the dark, and she remembers that kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas, well...

And right there The Devil You Know started confounding my expectations. I can't put my finger on what it was, exactly, that I expected, but Freddie and Bentley were absolutely not stock characters. Yes, Freddie seduces Bentley, and he tries to resist but can't, and I've read that sort of thing before--but not quite like this. Their actions, their words, and their thoughts all combine to make them some of the most three-dimensional characters I've read in historical romances.

I'm sorry I'm not explaining this better. I'll just say that the characters blew me away. Not because of any of their characteristics, but because of how well they were written.

Anyway, they spend the night together (eventually they'd moved from the garden to her bedroom), and Bentley narrowly escapes before dawn while Freddie's sleeping, but not before writing her a proposal... which she never gets.

Freddie ends up pregnant, and tells her family she refuses to marry Bentley, thinking that she doesn't want a philandering husband who's only married her because he was forced, so they concoct a plan to send her away to "marry" and in a couple of years, her fictitious husband can be killed off and she can return.

Bentley hears about the impending marriage, and goes after her, and they end up marrying. And then the second part of the story starts, with them moving into his family estate. There's the romance between them: they've got the passion down, but the intimacy takes a bit longer to develop; and there are some family tensions that need unraveling.

I docked this a half a star because the last third or so of the book did drag ever so slightly, but I'm not complaining. Despite a plot that, on the surface, seems fairly standard, The Devil You Know is fresh and new. I'd have thought I'd never read a historical romance before.

I've put Liz Carlyle's backlist on my to-look-for list, and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

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I love Liz Carlyle's older books, but I am not quite so enamoured of the new ones. I live in hope that her next ones will be a return to the good old days.
I never try Liz Carlyles's books. If you know some of the historical books I read, do you think I would enjoy this one, Darla?

Remember, I don't read lot of historical these days. But there are some auto buy historical authors from past though :)
Marg, that's disappointing. Maybe it's a good thing I decided to check out the rest of her backlist first.

Julia, I really liked it. Though if you'd like a historical romantic suspense better, you might prefer No True Gentleman which has a mystery along with the romance, and which I also loved.

But yes, I would like historical with some romance suspense in them, thanks for recommendation :)
The hero from No True Gentleman is my favourite Carlyle hero!
Than I'm looking forward to getting to know the hero from TRUE GENTLEMAN, than Marg! :)
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