Desert Isle Keeper
Tempted All Night
Liz Carlyle quickly became a favorite of mine when I read her “Never” series a little while back. Her newest, Tempted All Night is another winner.
Lady Phaedra Northampton is not your typical debutante. At an “advanced” age of 21 and with a scandalous – but still secret – past, she is unconcerned with the husband-hunting her younger sister and mother are focused on; Phae has other things to worry about: finding her maid’s sister, who has abandoned her child and run off to London to become a courtesan. Unfortunately, she has instead found herself in a brothel that tends to the more perverse desires of powerful men.
Tristan Talbot spent several years in Greece as a soldier doing reconnaissance during the war there, but now he’s back in London being the somewhat empty-headed ladies’ man that people expect him to be. However, when his dying father, a powerful man in the Foreign Office, asks him to investigate the murder of a Russian national, he reluctantly agrees. Phae was a witness to this murder, and Tristan knows that she’s hiding something, he just doesn’t know what. As he continues to investigate this murder, which leads him to a Russian spy in London, he and Phae begin to fall for each other, and passion ignites between them.
Neither Tristan nor Phae have particularly unusual or unorthodox character types. Though it may be a bit anachronistic, we’ve seen a number of mischief-seeking heroines, adept at disguising themselves and having no qualms with sneaking into the more unsavory bits of London. And Tristan is, in many ways, another underestimated Duke of Slut. But it is a testament to the author’s skills that Phae and Tristan were still unique, individual, and fresh. Ms. Carlyle took these two somewhat archetypal characters, and created strong, vibrant leads with depth. They work wonderfully together, have great chemistry, and strong emotions. I even briefly considered ratcheting up the sensuality rating to “burning,” as there is a mild bondage and domination element to their love scenes. Though Ms. Carlyle makes an effort to separate their “love play” from the sadomasochistic practices at the brothel featured in the book, it is a bit more adventurous than many mainstream romances I’ve read – but it worked.
As fans of Ms. Carlyle may expect, the book has a rich cast of side-characters as well, some of which may be familiar to us from books past. I really enjoyed the relationships between Phae and Tristan and their assorted family, friends, and associates. I know there has already been discussion about which of the minor characters will be paired off next, and I’m looking forward to it myself.
I thought the plot was really well done. The author handles a number of darker issues with aplomb; this book certainly isn’t a light read. Though the very end wraps things up in a neatly predictable, romance-novel way, other elements of the conclusion are quite realistic and thus not quite as prettily tied up.
Liz Carlyle truly is a gifted writer. The dialogue and narration of this book were nearly flawless, and flowed smoothly and richly. Reading Tempted All Night was an absolute pleasure, and I can’t wait for her next book.