Never Lie to a Lady Hardcover – Large Print, Sep 2007
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Xanthia Neville knows exactly how to run a successful worldwide shipping business, but navigating the social waters of the ton is another matter entirely. At a London soiree, the mystery man with whom Xanthia shares a kiss turns out to be notorious rake and gamester Stefan Northampton, the Marquess of Nash. Xanthia knows that any romantic liaison with Stefan is social suicide, but she can't forget the dark and dangerous lord. Xanthia gets a second chance with Stefan when the British government asks her to use her business connections to look into Stefan's possible connections to gun-smuggling in Greece, and Xanthia soon finds herself ensnared in a dangerous game of seduction and intrigue with the sublimely sexy Stefan. With the first in an irresistible new trilogy, Carlyle cleverly fashions another of her fabulously rich confections certain to captivate readers with its delightfully unique heroine, deliciously dark hero, and delectably witty writing. Charles, John --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I've always loves the independent heroine type; women who take their lives into their own hands and create a world for themselves that doesn't revolve around their husbands. I adore those kind of people... but independent disposition aside, there should be something else worth liking about their personality; A fun, refreshing sense of humour... an optimistic, unique outlook on life... a special skill or ability...a sweet, generous nature... a daring and quick wit...or even a fiesty, willful temperment. Anything at all that makes her stand out among her peers... not just the fact that she's independent. Because anyone can be independent, but still bored you to tears with their lack of personality.
Unfortunately, Xanthia falls into this latter department. I didn't find anything worth liking about her personality. Her independence in based on the fact she has a career and she freely takes lovers just like a man. I'd rather have Xanthia be a woman whose independence is defined by the way she defies social expectation. I'd rather have her uniqueness based on the fact that she doesn't give a damn what people think. Unfortunately, she does. Her behavior confuses me. She turns Nash down at first becuase she doesn't want to cause scandal, yet contrary to what society would approve of, she runs a shipping business and works in one of the most sketchy part of the city... Doesn't make any sense. If she's already defying social expectation by having a career, then why care what people think about her taking a lover?
Eventually Xanthia and Nash do become lovers. How and Why? Because Xanthia is spying to see if Nash is guilty of treason... huh...
Before knowing more about what kind of man he is and whether or not he's guilty, she sleeps with him. THEN, she decides "Oh, he must be innocent!" He doesn't SEEM like a traitor...hmmm.. Talk about bias. Instead of being the wise, down-to-earth heroine I hoped her to be (by waiting to learn more about him BEFORE having a relationship with him) she sleeps with him first, develops feelings for him (which from what I've seen are mostly just basic lust and sexual desires) THEN forms a verdict on his innocence. For an independent, free-thinking woman she sure acts like an illogical idiot.
Nash, on the other hand, is also boring as hell. Just a regular ol' rake...only, without any of the irresistible rakish charms. He's neither dashing nor fun nor especially sexy .. at least not to me. He's not physically or emotionally flawed in any way, so there's no compassion to be felt for our hero. He doesn't have a dark past or a shady secret... so he lacks the aura of mystery and danger. He's neither witty or display a unique charm. He doesn't have a skill or an admirable ability. His physical description doesn't leave one dreamy or sighing with wistfulness. Supposedly, he has an imposing and attractive presence, but I sure didn't see it. Nash.... takes mistresses and runs from the idea of marriage...typical, but... uh uh...not my kind of hero.
The couple together is uninteresting. The spy business takes any lightness out of the story and also any of the romance. Who'd wanna read page after page about government policies, conflicts between political parties, the how one country is using spies to infiltrate another. When I pick up a romance novel and I expect to have some fun... go on adventures...see some lovin'... and giggle stupidly like a silly girl. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. When Nash and Xanthia meet, they talk politely, inertly to each other. Their conversations are largely about politics and business... *yawn*... then out of nowhere, one person would make an innuendo to the other... and ooo the passion is simmering. Pff...yeah right. Whatever tension there is between them feels artificial and fake...limited to their shallow admiration for each other's bodies and their desire to couple... She doesn't seem so special that he can't stop thinking about her. And he doesn't seem worthy enough for her to risk that independence she struggles to hard to protect. I can't see what she loves about him and I can't see what he loves about her.So in the end, it's just the two of them adoring each other, with me -the reader- standing to the side, scratching my head and wondering to myself ...why?
All in all, I love Carlyle. I've read her for years, but I didn't like this book. It doesn't touch me in any way. And pardon me for being a little conservative, but I find the idea of her giving him a BJ the first time they have sex a little disgusting... She barely knows the guy! Eww... Not romantic, not sweet... just eww. Ok... That's all I have to say.
Oh and please keep in mind that these are MY opinions. They may not be true for everyone. So, take my word for what it is, but if you want to read the book and form your own opinion, please do... I look forward to hearing what everyone else think..
A few days later, Xanthia and her brother are visited by investigators from the Home Office who ask if she will befriend Lord Nash, who they suspect of being a gun smuggler. They want her to pretend to be a bit shady in her shipping activities, hoping that Nash will take the bait and use her ships for his illicit activities. Or that she can find something incriminating on him. Xanthia jumps at the chance to help. But is she truly out to trap Nash or, rather, prove his innocence?
I am a big Liz Carlyle fan, and this book is worth the read, but is not as strong as some of her other works. Most of the weakness is in the first half of the book, when Xanthia's spy tactics toward Nash cast a shadow over their burgeoning romance. Her pretending to be corrupt and her in-your-face, incautious sexual aggressiveness are real turn-offs. It is not consistent with the person she first presented to Nash - the one he fell for - and it is hard to believe Nash would find this behavior desirable. Xanthia's watchdog Mr. Kemble, who I liked in previous books, now has irritatingly overdone "interior decorator" mannerisms that are not endearing. The book has a much better second half, when Xanthia softens and is more circumspect. I like the way their relationship evolves, with Nash a very appealing hero right to the end. The scenes at his homes are particularly well done, as his feelings for Xanthia become more evident. The title, BTW, has nothing to do with the book. 3 1/2 stars...with a good finish.