Never Lie to a Lady
Liz Carlyle begins her new trilogy with Never Lie to a Lady, a somewhat uneven book in terms of momentum, but one that I ultimately enjoyed due to the interesting characters – both old and new.
Xanthia Neville and her brother Kieran, the new Baron Rothewell, have recently arrived in London from the West Indies where they were raised. They own a shipping business and, while Kieran has never been interested in the family business, it is practically Xanthia’s whole world. She is a hands-on manager, which includes working out of the London offices on a daily basis. She is almost 30, unmarried, and plans to remain so, for she is loath to give up her fulfilling life and turn over to a husband the business she has worked so hard to maintain. She has a romantic past with Gareth Lloyd, who runs the operations side of the business. He has repeatedly asked her to marry him, but she repeatedly refuses.
She meets Stephan, the Marquess of Nash, at a ton ball, a rare attendance for both of them, and shares some passionate moments with him on a balcony. In the cool light of day, Nash worries that he is being manipulated into marriage and is relieved, and then perversely miffed, when Xanthia lets him know that marriage is the last thing she wants, although she can’t help but be interested in him.
Xanthia’s already high interest in Nash ratchets even higher when she and her brother are visited by everybody’s favorite Carlyle characters, George Kemble and Max de Rohan, who are looking for a favor. Eastern Europe is poised on the edge of a war between Greece and Turkey that threatens to engage the entire continent. Russia is involved, and as Nash’s mother was Russian and he was promised as an officer in the Tsar’s army before he unexpectedly inherited his English title, he is under suspicion. Especially when a dead body bearing incriminating papers is found near his estate. The Nevilles, being new to England and in the shipping business, are in the perfect position to make some discreet inquiries. Xanthia is consumed with finding out the truth but is quickly convinced that Nash is innocent. Now she must find proof of that innocence even as they begin a torrid affair.
Xanthia and Stephan had much in common: they are both new to England, both feeling out of place and outsiders, both have a love of their old homes, both have troubled siblings for whom they care deeply. They were very compatible and understood each other well, and I liked that. Most romances feature opposites attracting so it was nice to see a couple’s experiences and desires mesh together so nicely.
The love scenes definitely earn the “hot” rating and steamed up my glasses nicely, even if I thought that the initial encounter on the balcony was a bit rushed and far-fetched. I’m really disliking this trend I seem to read in every book now – that the couple has a sexual encounter in the first chapter even before any names are exchanged. It is unnecessary and usually feels forced to me, as did this one.
I felt, despite the early sexual encounter, that the action and momentum of the plot was a bit slow for the first 80 pages or so, but once Kemble and Max appeared, the story took off. I loved the scenes of Kemble acting as Xanthia’s Man of Affairs at her office to keep an eye on and protect her. Nash’s struggles to stay away from Xanthia and her determination to stay close and have a relationship were well done and made for some great reading.
So, while there were some problems, I enjoyed Xanthia and Nash – and my man Kemble – and their varying relationships enough to recommend Never Lie to a Lady and look forward to the next in the series, which will feature spurned business partner, Gareth.