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REVIEW: A Bride By Moonlight by Liz Carlyle

Dear Ms. Carlyle:

The first four chapters appeared to address a number of events that took place in previous books. I barely remember these events and felt frustrated and lost. It seems like no book these days, be it historical or paranormal, can be read without having first powered through the previous four titles in a series. This is a burden on readers. Even the cast of characters list in the opening did little to clarify the issues.

A Bride By Moonlight Liz CarlyleLisette Colburne has spent her whole life seeking vengeance against Rance Welham, Lord Lazonby who she believed led to the ruination of her family. At the start of the book, Lisette is masquerading as a different woman and discovers that it is another man who was responsible not only for her family’s downturn and that Lord Lazonby had been framed. Lazonby is no meek man and Lisette knows that while he needs her to corroborate his account of events, the minute she loses value to him, he will seek to ruin her.

This is all set up so that we believe that her only recourse is to go with Royden Napier, the new Baron Saint-Bryce, to Welham as his affianced bride. Royden is the assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police. He has lived a solid upper middle class existence and has followed his father’s footsteps in the search for truth and justice. However, his father led the charge against Lord Lazonby and now Royden is confronted that perhaps the comfortable life he was raised in wasn’t the result of his father’s steadfast public service but something more sinister.

At the urging of his superior officer at the Metropolitan Police, Royden agrees to return to his estranged grandfather’s estate. There Royden is faced with a crotchety great aunt determined to have him marry the young beautiful bride who was supposed to marry the last Baron Saint-Bryce (who died and left no heir which meant the title and entailed estates reverted to Royden); a mystery pertaining to the deaths around the manor house; and his own growing attachment toward Lisette.

While Royden is a familiar, brooding character suspicious of everyone; Lisette is a bit different than the ordinary heroine. She’s very capable and intelligent. She easily sees through Royden’s schemes and confronts him up front about them. Some may call her tart tongued but I found her refreshingly forthright.

“What a damnable coil,” he muttered, scarcely knowing which coil he meant.

“You aren’t contemplating a plunge to your death, are you?” she asked. “Because at this height, you’ll only break a leg and be trapped here, bedridden.”

He cut her a rueful smile. “Those bay towers out front?” he suggested. “Would that get the job done, do you reckon?”

She pretended to consider it. “I fear the pea-gravel would merely mar that striking face of yours,” she said lightly. “But you could climb that monstrous folly we drove past—and if you keep on with your high-handed attitude, I might be persuaded to give you a shove.”

I also liked that while Lisette was physically attracted to him she told him that she deserved better than a man who would regret making love to her. Their despised attraction smoulders underneath the surface, peaking like lava bursts from time to time. The mystery of the deaths of the Saint-Bryce heirs harkens to the house party whodunits of the past.

Take away the complicated beginning and the overarching ties to previous books and A Bride by Moonlight is a satisfying historical romance between a man trying to come to terms with the unexpected legacies left to him by his father and the deaths of the Saint-Bryce heirs and a woman who believed she deserved better but hadn’t ever received it. B-

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Ren
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 12:23:46

    Bummer about the series chum. I would have read this based on the dialogue sample if a huge backlist investment weren’t necessary for comprehension.

  2. Maura
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 12:53:07

    Ditto. But you’ve nailed exactly why I don’t like reading books that are part of a series. It feels like it’s harder and harder to find simple standalones. Is it easier to sell series to a publisher, or easier to write when you don’t have to re-establish your characters from the ground up with each new novel, or is it something else?

  3. Meri
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 13:01:26

    Is Carlyle still these writing vaguely paranormal historicals, or has she returned to regular historicals? I might give this a shot if it’s the latter, but if she’s still on about secret societies and such, I’ll probably pass.

  4. Isobel Carr
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 13:12:53

    IME, publishers are demanding series. When I sold, they wanted a 3 book pitch that I could expand into a longer series later. I’m also hearing from friends that their sales really take off almost exponentially around book 6-8 (in a series), so there’s a reason writers and publishers like them.

  5. Ren
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 13:19:26

    @Maura: What’s “easier” should never take precedence over quality. Every book *should* be written as if the person picking it up has never heard of the author before and this is going to be the first impression. “I have no idea what’s going on and I’m not reading six other books to find out” isn’t a good one.

    If unfinished business from another book is plot-relevant in the current book, fine, but it should be as clearly laid out as the new business and integrated therewith, and if it’s not plot-relevant, it has no business cluttering up the current book.

    While I’m ranting, couples from previous books had their turn. Couples from future books will get their turn. Get off the stage and let these two have their moment.

  6. Jane
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 16:21:12

    @Meri- this book doesn’t have too much spiritualism in it. Mostly hints at characters in previous books.

  7. Tamara
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 19:26:38

    I dislike series as well. I am just now interested in seeing Harry Potter for the first time but knowing there are multiple series makes me think twice:). However, the description you have written about this book by Liz has intrigued me to give it a shot.

  8. Patricia
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 21:36:30

    Thank you for reviewing this. I read all of the earlier books and mostly liked them but the last book in the series I found disappointing, so much so that I never finished it. Still, I bought this with some trepidation when I saw it had been released. At this point, I feel committed. (This must be why publishers like series so much). I’m glad to hear you liked the book for the most part; that makes me hopeful and means the book probably won’t linger as long in my virtual TBR pile as it otherwise might have.

  9. lizzyb
    Mar 02, 2013 @ 06:26:29

    I am surprised and disappointed how everyone here seems to think a series book should rehash everything in previous installments. To me, if you are reading a book in the middle of the series, you should absolutely expect not to know what’s going on if you havent read the others. It’s called not talking down to your readers. One thing I absolutely hate about reading series romance is they are SO repetitive. I don’t need to spend the first 10 pages reading something I already know and have read.

  10. Jane
    Mar 02, 2013 @ 06:32:05

    @lizzyb: The problem is there are a lot of readers who a) don’t remember all the previous books and b) haven’t read all the previous books. It shouldn’t be a requirement to read four previous books to understand what is going on in the current story. It’s an unrealistic burden on readers.

    However, I understand that as a long time series reader, you want to be rewarded for your faithfulness.

    I’m more frustrated by all the books being series that rely so heavily on one another. Did this book really benefit from having so much of it tied to a previous story? Not really, in my opinion. The crux of the story centered around the mystery of the Saint-Bryce’s death and the interrelation of the characters surrounding the Saint-Bryce family which had zero to do with any previous stories.

  11. lizzyb
    Mar 03, 2013 @ 20:32:19


    Definitely understand your view, Jane, and in the context of romance (as opposed to, say, other series fiction like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones), you’re probably right for the most part, especially when it seems like, as you say, we’ve reached a point where there aren’t many stand-alone romances, particularly within the historical romance subgenre. I just get annoyed sometimes when I have to re-read the same exposition and character introductions over and over and over again. YES I KNOW WHO CAT AND BONES ARE, STOP REINTRODUCING THEM, DAMMIT!

  12. Jane
    Mar 03, 2013 @ 21:01:41

    @lizzyb – I hear you. It’s tough for a reader on both sides – the newbie and the “in for the long haul.”

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