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Book Review: In Love With a Wicked Man by Liz Carlyle

17333645New York Times bestselling author Liz Carlyle has created a breathtaking new romance about a man without scruples and the lady who brings him to his knees.

What does it matter if Kate, Lady d’Allenay, has absolutely no marriage prospects? She has a castle to tend, an estate to run, and a sister to watch over, which means she is never, ever reckless. Until an accident brings a handsome, virile stranger to Bellecombe Castle, and Kate finds herself tempted to surrender to her houseguest’s wicked kisses.

Disowned by his aristocratic family, Lord Edward Quartermaine has turned his gifted mind to ruthless survival. Feared and vilified as proprietor of London’s most notorious gaming salon, he now struggles to regain his memory, certain of only one thing: he wants all Kate is offering—and more.

But when Edward’s memory returns, he and Kate realize how much they have wagered on a scandalous passion that could be her ruin, but perhaps his salvation.

****

Another book by Liz Carlyle, In Love With a Wicked Man is an entertaining enough read to recommend. However, it’s not as strong as her previous books. I love, love, love Carlyle. I do. But this novel fell a little flat towards the end.

Before I jump into my criticisms, let me flesh out a little background. Our hero, Ned Quartermaine, is the illegitimate son of a lady of the aristocracy. He owns a gaming hell, which suits his affinity for numbers. He’s sharp with mathematics, ruthless, and unquestioned by his underlings. He’s a man of power. So, when the Lord Reginald Hoke loses a fortune at his tables, Ned accepts the deed to Reggie’s ancestral home as adequate payment. Ned, a man of reason, visits his new property to estimate its worth. There, he meets the lovely Kate Wentworth, Lady d’Allenay.

Kate holds the title to one of the few baronies to pass through the female line after her brother, Stephen, dies in a tragic accident. She’s titled as the Baroness of Bellecombe Castle, but her estate is on the brink of financial ruin from her two predecessors. She’s resigned to her spinsterhood, despite having once been engaged to the Lord Reggie Hoke. However, she jilts Reggie after discovering him in a scandalous misconduct. Her only determination is to see to the resurrection of Bellecombe Castle and leave the estate to her heir, her sister Nancy.

In Nancy, we find a subplot. Nancy wants to marry the local rector, but her Uncle Upshaw, her guardian, disagrees with the match. He wants his green niece to see more of the world, but Nancy wishes to marry her beloved as soon as foreseeable. Worst off, Aurelie, Kate’s mother, intends to return to the estate with a party of her friends. Extravagant, wild, and pleasure-seeking, Kate worries her mother will indebt her inheritance once further.

Vexed with her family, Kate goes on a horseback ride. She almost collides with a male rider, who is thrown from his mount. Kate takes the gentleman back to Bellecombe to heal the unconscious bloke. Once he recovers, he’s lost his memory to amnesia. Kate and her maid, doing a little detective work, discover the man’s name is Edward. He and Kate become close throughout the recovery of his memories.

When Edward does regain his memory, Aurelie has arrived at the estate with her party. Along with them comes Lord Reginald Hoke. Penniless, Reggie wants to woo Kate once more into marriage. However, Edward keeps his identity as Ned Quartermaine hidden for a time as Reggie pursues her. This creates a whir of jealousy, which is a tad predictable.

Also, Edward, once he does reveal his identity, doesn’t ask for her hand, because his reputation would damage Nancy’s chances of coming out in London. That is, if Nancy so chooses to forget her rector and pursue other potential prospects. Although this shows the honor and nobility in Edward, as well as his intentions to protect Kate, much of the writing feels like fluff to bolster the page count. The writing is good. Don’t mistake me. The characters are splendid in their own quirky way, but the lingering on this part of the plot is a hitch in the novel. Another flaw is the amnesia plot. This is seen time and time again in Regency romances. It’s overused at this point, and I would’ve liked to seen something else from this writer. Edward’s amnesia seemed more like a plot convenience than anything else. However, if you enjoy Liz Carlyle and her other books, I recommend this book. It kills some time.

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