NO TRUE GENTLEMAN
Liz Carlyle

 

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Pocket, July 2002
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
 
Regency

Lady Catherine Wodeway has come to London to snap out of her two-year isolation on the farm. Widowed two years earlier when her husband Will was killed in a hunting accident, Catherine seeks to break the lonely rut she has fallen into since his death. Catherine, used to the relaxed informality of the country and unfamiliar with town etiquette, is something of a misfit. With her keen intelligence and forthright manner, she finds herself wondering about the wisdom of coming to London at all. On her morning ride in Hyde Park Catherine meets a refreshingly intelligent and mysterious man, and even though it isn't done, she spontaneously invites him to join her for dinner. Misunderstanding her invitation, he bluntly tells her he isn't interested in bed games with another of London's lonely noble women.

Maximilian de Rohan, an Italian immigrant from Tuscany, has worked his way up through the ranks of the London police. Promoted to the Home Office after starting out as a Bow Street Runner, he is a burned out do-gooder bent on righting wrongs. His grandmother, Sofia Josephina DiBiase Castelli, worries about him and is constantly trying to divert his interest into the family winery empire she rebuilt when they immigrated to England. Although Max is descended from noble blood, he doesn't care a thing for the Ton's obsession with bloodlines. After years on the street his rough-around-the-edges demeanor has all but erased his gentlemanly manners. Grown somewhat cynical, Max is driven to fight for causes. His latest assignment, to clean up police corruption, has him temporarily back on the streets doing surveillance in Hyde Park.

Max's current assignment gets put on hold when he is asked by an old friend, Lady Cecilia Delacourt, to help with the murder investigation of a noble woman. When a letter box belonging to the deceased is brought to him by Lady Delacourt's sister-in-law, he is brought face to face again with the beautiful woman he odiously insulted in Hyde Park. They are both embarrassed by their behavior that morning and strangely attracted to each other in spite of their awkward beginning. Catherine and Max eventually decide to give each other a second chance but will Max, the cynical and reluctant suitor, be able to risk his heart with a noble woman like Catherine? Can Lady Catherine care for someone whose gentlemanly manners have grown rusty with disuse, or will she let the stubborn Max de Rohan slip away from her?

Liz Carlyle has written two very atypical characters for this Regency romance. Max isn't a rogue or a rake, bedding every available woman in site, and Catherine isn't a young virgin bride.  Catherine, an unusually forthright speaking woman, is quite often the pursuer in their relationship. I found this role switch refreshingly different and well written. Max, a misunderstood and self contained man, is ripe for the woman who can accept him for who he is. The personal experiences that have shaped these two characters are slowly revealed as they begin to fall in love. But falling in love isn't all that's necessary to bring these two together. There are other dangers and obstacles standing in their way.

NO TRUE GENTLEMAN is the sequel to A WOMAN OF VIRTUE, the novel where Max de Rohan is first introduced as a police officer. Secondary character Lady Cecilia Delcourt's tale is featured in A WOMAN OF VIRTUE. Liz Carlyle has a refreshingly different style and voice with Regency tales and I look forward to reading whatever novel she writes next. 

 

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