Melissa McHugh's Reviews > The Bride Wore Pearls

The Bride Wore Pearls by Liz Carlyle
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Aug 04, 12

Read in July, 2012

Reviewed for http://www.paper-cup.org

I love Liz Carlyle. She has a wonderful lyrical way of writing prose that makes even the most dense and heavy subjects seem light. From the moment I picked up The Devil to Pay, she’s never disappointed me. That being said, I felt niggling details in this work that kept it from being five stars. The best thing about Carlyle’s work is that it’s a self-contained universe. No book exists in a vacuum. Her first characters, introduced in My False Heart, were featured in one of her most recent works, Wicked All Day. The hero and heroine in The Bride Wore Scarlet were children of former heroes and heroines. Few authors continue this kind of universe the way that Carlyle does with such flawlessness, and manage to weave in new characters. Yet, for the first time here, she stumbles, and it costs this book the last star.

The leads in this book are wonderful, just as I thought they would be in the first two books in the series. Rance and Anisha are complex, damaged and emerge at the end better for the trials. Anisha is a strong heroine, willing to pursue her own future without Rance if he’s not willing to step up, and Rance is willing to give her up because he thinks he’s not good enough. Until it’s time to actually do that. Rance’s tortured past is completely on display here, his obsession with restoring his name and honor ring true as well as his desire to keep his promise to Ruthveyn about protecting Anisha.

I liked seeing characters from past books show up–Benedict and Frederica, particularly as they hold a special place in my heart. I also was glad to see that Anaïs played such a strong supporting role, that her part in Anisha’s past almost betrothal was not forgotten. The actual mystery behind Rance’s framing for murder was interesting and well done, as well.

So, what bothers me about this book? What keeps me from rating it highly? Why did I put it down after devouring it on my vacation with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction? I was bothered the moment Anaïs set foot in George Kemble’s old shop and visited her father’s old friend. Every moment George Kemble is in the story is a wink to Carlyle’s old readers and is completely out of place for the story. The scene between Anaïs and Kemble in the shop is unnecessary fill, just to remind you of his flamboyancy. His role in the story is fluff, and leads you to believe, that along with the notes in Rance’s police file, held the key to the mystery all along. If Anaïs held connections to the Guardians before, why did no one use them on behalf of Rance? Why did no one ask de Vendeheim to look into it? He would have commandeered the file, and Kemble, to be sure. It leaves a niggling feeling in my head that it all could have been solved so much more neatly and sooner when Kemble is the one that holds the cards. You take out George Kemble, and put in someone else who doesn’t have the history with Anaïs’s father, it wouldn’t be an issue.

That won’t bother people who’ve haven’t read every Liz Carlyle cover to cover nine or ten times like I have. Unfortunately, I have. I feel like George Kemble was in this story because Liz Carlyle had queries from fans asking about him, and she gave into temptation. Better to leave it to mystery. Kemble would have approved.
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