The Bride Wore Scarlet
Avon, July 26, 2011, $7.99
Passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant façade of Victorian London in another deliciously intriguing novel featuring the mysterious men of the St. James Society.
Anaïs de Rohan has faced danger in her past, but never anything so great as posing as the new bride to one of the St. James Society’s most magnetic - and ruthless - leaders. But Lord Bessett’s bold challenge to prove herself worthy of joining his secret all-male society is impossible to resist. So she daringly agrees to travel with the enigmatic nobleman on a dangerous mission to save one of their own - a little girl with a frightening gift.
Soon intrigue swirls about them, drawing them ever closer. And Anaïs quickly realizes that the intimacy of sharing Lord Bessett’s bedroom is proving a temptation impossible to resist. As for Bessett himself - well, he might be a soldier sworn to the Society, but he certainly isn’t anyone’s saint. . . .
OK, let me get my book title rant out of the way right up front: There is no bride in Liz Carlyle’s The Bride Wore Scarlet until the Epilogue. And she never wore red. I know that authors have no say over what their books are titled; these are publishers’s decisions. So I just have this to say: WTF, Avon? I see that the next book in this series is The Bride Wore Pearls. All I have to say is, there better some damn pearls on a bride. Sheesh!
Thank goodness the book is better than the title.
Anaïs and Geoff are on a mission for a secret society, the “Fraternitas Aureae Crucis”—Brotherhood of the Golden Cross—whose members are Guardians of the Gift. The Gift may take many forms, but the child they are to rescue sees visions of the future. She has already predicted the downfall of one European government and there are those who wish to use her for their own political purposes. Along the way Anaïs and Geoff have many adventures and, of course, fall in love.
Carlyle is a talented writer, adept in writing unique characters with emotional depth. But what I’d like to talk about in regard to The Bride Wore Scarlet (oy! how that title irks me!) is not the endearing way she tortures her heroes, or the incredible hotness quotient of her love scenes, but her way with descriptions and metaphors.
In London, the day was brisk, the breeze whipping at Hyde Park’s spring blossoms almost violently. Such botanic brutality had not, however, deterred the last of the day’s gadabouts…
That term, “botanic brutality,” really paints a picture for me. I’ve experienced that day. Not in Hyde Park but, reading that, I was instantly transported to a windy spring day in my grandmother’s garden, watching the tulips and daffodils being so blown about that I was surprised the heads didn’t snap off.
“That song dragged, Nish, like a crooked plow behind a lame horse,” he said.
And, I’ve heard that singer. Haven’t you? Doesn’t that sentence conjure up a picture in your mind? Not just visually, but aurally as well.
Like you, I’m sure, I’ve read many scenes trying to describe what it is like for someone with The Sight, or in this series, The Gift, in the throes of a vision. Carlyle provides the best one I’ve read.
Then he blew out the candle, closed his eyes and opened himself quite deliberately to that infinite chasm between time and place. It felt a little like tying a tourniquet about one’s arm and laying open a vein. …
It was a task he loathed. But it was, for the most part, just a task now. Just a choice he made when no other alternative was left to him.
There had been a time, however, not so many years past, when it had not been a choice. When his mind had slipped unconstrained through time and place; back and forth, slippery as an eel flicking through dappled sunlight. Like alternating flashes of blinding brightness and perfect clarity.
These moments in books are a kind of gift in themselves, and few do them as well as Liz Carlyle.
Cheryl Sneed reviews at Rakehell.com.