Desert Isle Keeper
No True Gentleman
In a recent Potpourri Message Board discussion someone asked what trends we’d like to see started. Number one on my list would be something new and fresh in an historical set in the Regency. Yes, the period has been done to death, but I still pick them up and hope the author will make me feel the way I did in the mid-80’s when the full length historical set in the Regency was new. I’m usually disappointed, but that doesn’t mean I want writers to stop writing them. I want them to make them fresh. That’s asking a lot, I’ll grant you, but I think Liz Carlyle has done just that with No True Gentleman.
Meeting her hero gives the reader the first inkling that Ms. Carlyle is attempting to stretch a bit. Maximilian de Rohan first appeared in Carlyle’s previous book A Woman of Virtue as a constable. Recently promoted to the Home Office and deeply involved in a police corruption investigation, he interrupts his own case to work on the murder of Julia Markham-Sands, at the request of his friend (and sister-in-law to Julia) Cecelia, Lady Delacourt.
If you’re rolling your eyes right about now at the idea this might be something different, just be patient. You’re right. A lot of regency-set historicals now include a mystery and a hero/heroine involved in the case. But this is Max’s job. For all intents and purposes he’s a police inspector and an Italian refugee with a wine merchant grandmother to boot. He’s barely accepted by society and certainly thinks he hasn’t a chance with the widowed heroine Lady Catherine Wodeway. Instead he thinks his only option with Catherine is to maybe become her lover. Not because he’s tortured or commitment phobic, but because he knows they’re not on a social par.
Catherine is different from the usual run of females in subtler ways. Yes she’s a widow but thank you God, not a virgin. Her marriage was one she chose freely at the age of seventeen and her husband was not abusive, impotent or unfaithful. She wasn’t unhappy but she is aware that there might have been something more. Now widowed and on her own she’s trying to figure out what’s next. Her attraction to Max is powerful but she only becomes involved in the investigation when it looks like her brother may be a suspect in the murder.
Max and Catherine grab the reader with their immediate chemistry. They hold the reader with their very realistic and forthright manner and behavior. Most refreshing of all, though there is a mystery here and one that is very germane to the plot and the people involved, it is family and social and emotional difficulties the couple must overcome in their quest for the happily-ever-after.
Carlyle drew me in with a comfortably familiar setting. But it was her very original and deftly handled characterization and plotting that carried me past comfort to true enjoyment. In describing them I’ve been using a lot of ‘nots.’ Max is not a tortured rake. Catherine is not an impossible virgin. Take it from me. This is not your average, run-of-the-mill Regency Historical. This is a book that will satisfy.