Huma Rashid's Reviews > No True Gentleman

No True Gentleman by Liz Carlyle
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's review
Jul 01, 12

it was amazing
Read in July, 2012

This book is fantastic.

The protagonist is Max, a half-Italian nobleman who lives as a middle class man and works as a detective. This becomes something of a significant point in the book - his eschewing of his noble position - because as readers of the genre are aware, the British aristocracy viewed "trade," where one actually accepted money for one's labors, as something base and unpleasant, something to be looked down on. That Max makes his living by working often causes the aristocracy to look down on him, because that is simply the social structure of the times. (Not that this has changed over the centuries.)

Catherine was a wonderful heroine - a young widow, rather than an inexperienced little virgin, and that was what really made it work. Catherine was mature, experienced, but still fresh and lovely, not jaded by her life or her experiences or the people around her. Carlyle infused this character with a sense of warmth and resilience that readers won't be able to help but to pick up on, and it becomes clear that this is part of why Max feels so powerfully drawn to her.

The supporting cast is, let's say, quite abundant. Readers might be confused at the beginning by the sheer number of people who are not the hero and heroine. There's Harry. Julia. Cecilia, Cecilia's husband, Catherine, Max, Max's delightful and kind of scary grandmother, Maria, Lucifer, Aunt Isabel, Vost, Kemble, Sisk, Nate, Bentley, Cam, Will, Genevieve, Eversole. Do not be put off by all these characters scurrying around in the background! Carlyle uses them well, and any initial confusion doesn't last long as the characters quickly find their places and stay there, allowing the reader to easily keep track of them all.

Readers will not only be able to keep track of all the characters, but will love them. Each supporting character is unique and a great piece of the puzzle that really fleshes out this story and fills it in, coloring the world that exists around these two flawed but resilient characters, Max and Catherine, and makes this such a memorable story.

It is rare that I personally love both a hero AND heroine this much. Normally, one of the two is usually my favorite. There have only been a couple books in which I loved both of the characters equally and completely - namely, Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn and A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare. And possibly also An Invitation to Sin by Suzanne Enoch, another delightfully fun read.

But Max and Catherine are equally wonderful. They are flawed people - Max with his dog-like focus on work, work, work, to the exclusion of all else and his disdain for nobility, magic, and things he feels he can't control; Catherine with her need to maintain her independence and not be hurt again after the death of her husband - but they are such rich, compelling and well-developed characters. Their love story is amazing. (The sex scenes are both steamy and fun, which is a tough line to walk but one that Carlyle traverses nimbly.) I completely understood why these two characters fell in love and came to be together and more importantly, I believed it. I totally bought the love, affection, and passion, due in large part to the great development and characterization.

Not only that, but Carlyle's writing itself is lovely. She has a way with words. She's not sharp and incisive and witty and inventive like Tessa Dare, or fluffy and sweet and lilting like Julia Quinn. Instead, her words are ... slow and heavy and swirling and gentle. Like how I'd imagine a long sip of mulled wine would taste and feel like. It's hard to describe but I think you'll get it once you read some of her longer, more descriptive passages. I loved her writing and can't wait to read more of her work.

I read this based on a friend's recommendation. And now I have another author to add to my Short List. I can't wait to discover more of Liz Carlyle's work!

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Melissa McHugh Once I realized the themes were somewhat similar to Thief of Shadows (even though the style is completely different, no one writes like Liz Carlyle), I thought this would be the perfect book to start with. You can literally go anywhere in Carlyle world from here, because Catherine is sister to Cam and Bentley, who are Beauty Like the Nigh and The Devil You Know respectively, and Max was the investigator for Cecilia and Delacourt in A Woman's Virtue. And Kemble? He's everywhere. The grandmother has a cameo in Bentley's book as well.

Melissa McHugh OH OH!!! And Max and Kemble are in The Deal With the Devil! See, it's just an awesome thing to read Liz Carlyle because the character keep coming back.

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