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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
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I rather liked the struggle the protagonists in this novel had to go through to achieve happiness. There was some honest soul searching and a great deal of family support and warmth. A change from lots of bodice-ripping yarns.
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Zoë Armstrong is ineligible - the illegitimate offspring of a wild marquess and an opera dancer - and all her life she's known that being good will get her nowhere. So she decides to be wicked instead. But after five seasons of outrageous flirting and causing scores of broken hearts, Zoë's fun must cease. Her father has given her an ultimatum: marriage or exile to Scotland. With the sheep.

Desperate and distraught, Zoë reacts with her usual recklessness, and by the next morning finds herself engaged. To Lord Robert Rowland, her distant scapegrace cousin and one of her dearest friends. Stuart Rowland, the cold-hearted, forbidding Marquess of Mercer, has spent most of his life pulling Robin and Zoë out of one scrape or another, but this time not even he can save them. No matter how much he might want to. As they all retire to the country to let the scandal die down, secrets, unhappiness and the burdens of duty soon unite to reveal passions that may have been best left concealed...

At last, Liz Carlyle has told Zoë's story! And that of the Rowland boys too. Zoë appeared in her very first novel (My False Heart) as a quiet, neglected waif, who grew into something of a minx (The Devil You Know,Tempted All Night). Mercer, meanwhile, was a sensitive boy, struggling under the many burdens thrust upon him (A Woman Scorned). Now Zoë is a vivacious flirt, using her wiles to disguise her intelligence, whilst secretly certain of her own unworthiness. Mercer is strong and responsible, yet so bound up in his detached reserve that he trusts neither himself nor his passions.

The secondary plot here is a break from Carlyle's more usual style - there are no murders or crimes, no dark tales of hidden pasts, and no face-offs with dastardly villains. There is a vindictive mistress, but the focus of this story is firmly on Zoë and Mercer, with a sideline of Robin's woes. The secluded atmosphere of Greythorpe keeps the tale believably contained and the relationships central. It's also lovely to see so many of Carlyle's older characters again (sadly Kemble's involvement is all behind the scenes), but it's the changes in Zoë that made this story for me. Not to mention Mercer's own self-revelations and the adjustments he makes.

Minus the kinks and the crime this may be, but it's still a heated, passionate tale of temptations, misconceptions and growing pains. Not to mention the value of friends, family and the attentions of a hero. One of Carlyle's best.
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on 31 October 2009
I have sixteen books written by Liz Carlyle. She's one of my all time favourite mass market historical romance writers. But this book isn't up to her standards.

Liz Carlyle is one of my top historical romance writers because she doesn't just write smut, wrap it up in vintage clothing, genteel language and shroud it in candlelight. She usually has some grit and plot in there, some real characterisation and even the occasional splash of humour. Many of her books have recurring characters who either play a secondary role or just pop in to do a cameo.

This book lacks most of what makes Carlyle's books great for me. There is no plot. Not even a half hearted attempt at one. This is simply a book of star crossed lovers. There's no steamy undercurrent - at least not to the extent you'll find in other books by this author. And the cameo appearance of one of LC's other characters is rather an embarrassment. George Kemble, a character virtually every LC reader recognises and likes... is mentioned as 'doing a job' for the hero. Even at the end the reader doesn't quite 'get' why Kem was doing the job he was doing, and he never actually appears to explain it because if he had appeared in writing he would have made Liz clear everything up! No the George Kemble addition was rather like the paparazzi 'mentioning' that Johnny Depp was 'doing a job' for their paper but you kind of got the impression by the end that what he did was READ it! And the paparazzi just used his name to sell more papers! Huh??

The heroine, Zoe, is the now grown up illegitimate daughter of the Marquis of Rannoch (My False Heart) and has to betroth herself to her best male friend, Robert, when their heavy petting session is interrupted by his brother Stuart (the hero of this book) and his ex-mistress. All sorts of misunderstandings and conversations left unspoken are the bulk of the book until ultimately the hero and heroine realise they cannot live without each other... Rannoch's role in the book left him looking like a dithering, blustering old man rather than the larger than life, powerful, extremely physical man he was in My False Heart. It just didn't hang together...

This book isn't a total wast of money inasmuch as it is still well written when you compare it to the mass of historical romance books on the shelves of many high street bookstores today. But it in no way compares to any of LC's previous books. Whereas I have all of LC's other book on my bookshelf and one or another often comes back down off the shelf for me to read on train journeys etc. and there's even some I've been impressed enough with to include them in my two Listmania lists on Amazon... this one? Well, this one will be going to the local charity shop. Sorry, Liz.
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on 12 October 2009
following on from where we left off at the end of tempted all night Zoe's father has decided enough is enough and she must get married. but Zoe being Zoe she ends up getting herself into a situation that she cant easily get out off. this time to save herself from ruin she must marry her best friend robin. so they must suffer for their silly little moment. the story moves to a family party where both families come together and celebrate the joining of the 2 families who are distant relatives but during this time in the country many secrets and truths are revealed. robin's brother Stuart is also present at this country gathering and he cant keep his off Zoe but he cant seduce his brothers wife to be, can he???? so will they realise what has been in front of them this whole time?? excellent, the story just sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages. great chemistry between stuart and Zoe from the beginning to end
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on 30 March 2010
What can I say about this novel.........? Well, I finished it and I was pleased with the outcome etc for all the characters however, ask me to name them and i'd struggle to tell you.

It's a confusing mess from the very first page. Robert/Robin, who's apparently one and the same (the first i've heard of either name being used as a 'nickname' for t'other but what do I know), is the cousin and 'closest friend' of the 'heroine' Zoe who is seemingly a bit of a naughty girl. At this point, I was already confused as to whom she was addressing or being addressed by in terms of Robert/Robin who it turns out has yet another title of Lord Rowland. Then along comes Lord Mercer, another cousin, Robert/Robin's elder brother no less, and occasionally named Stuart (yet so rarely that one becomes confused yet again when his first name is used). Added to all this is the supporting cast of Lords and Ladies and stepmothers and governesses and friends and half sisters and half brothers and dogs and......whew, well you get the picture!

My brain was completely overcome by now and I'd barely begun the story!

Next, Robert/Robin ends up in a compromising position with his beloved cousin/best friend Zoe.......now, it might just be me, but I personally found this all a bit 'bleurgh' for want of a better phrase! Considering the novel reiterates throughout that they've grown up together as bosom buddies and are practically brother and sister, the sudden plunge into full on said compromising situation is slightly distasteful. In fact the whole nature of this novel has an incestuous edge to it in terms of the references with little explanation to all the supporting characters and their situations which i'm assuming must have played out in other linked novels. This is therefore not really a 'stand alone' novel as I still don't have much of a clue who all the characters are. I have to say I have no desire to read it's partners if they're as convoluted at this!

Madeline Hunter does it so much better. One can read any of her linked novels and find that they are only enhanced further by reading their sister novels but it wouldn't matter either way as they stand alone regardless. Lisa Kleypas manages it well too, not to mention Stephanie Laurens and even Johanna Lindsey.

I've read one other Liz Carlyle which according to a review listed here is actually linked in some way to this one. The link must be tenuous because I can't remember it.......which brings me back to the whole point of this review. Just a mess. A well written mess but a mess nonetheless.
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on 12 April 2013
I reviewed on my blog back in May 2011, after borrowing it from the local library (see my Blog Post #123):

A very quick review on this one ..... as in a rush to get it back to library (overdue bad me!!). A 3 *** Star rating as in my opinion not quite as good as others (no George Kemble or real jeopardy either) and actual content a wee bit thin on the ground. In my humble opinion I think she missed the chance to write a real winner with the jealous mistress causing a lot more harm along the way.

Zoe Armstrong, bastard daughter of the Earl of Rannouch and friend of Miss Phaedra Northampton (#106 - Tempted All Night) , a complete flirt and up for any old rig is caught in a very compromising situation with her childhood friend, Lord Robin by his older brother, Marquess of Mercer and his spiteful mistress.

Robin is given no alternative other than to offer for Zoe to save her already tarnished reputation, and they hie off to the home of the Marquess for the summer, and it is intended that they will marry before the new Season.

Unfortunately, Robin comes to realise that he in actual fact in love with his mistress, and Zoe fights against an ever growing attraction for the Marquess.

Robin goes off the rails, drinks, makes very merry at the local tavern and has was it very nearly a fatal accident .... so do they go through with the marriage and make the best of a bad lot?
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on 26 September 2016
Love this book. Glad it was a continuation of 'A Scorned Woman' look forward to more books from Liz Carlyle.
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on 8 November 2015
loved it
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