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REVIEW: Tempted All Night by Liz Carlyle

Dear Ms. Carlyle:

141659313601lzzzzzzzIn contemplating your backlist, I’ve decided that you are one of the most consistent authors I read. My favorite book of yours remains the first one, My False Heart published back in 1999. I don’t know whether it is my favorite because it’s the first one I read by you or whether it is the one to which I respond best. Tempted All Night gives some tantalizing glimpses of future books featuring characters from My False Heart but the main protagonists in Tempted All Night is the sister of Stephen Nash from Never Lie to a Lady, Lady Phaedra Northampton, and Tristan, Viscount Avoncliffe.

Tristan has been estranged from his father for most of his life. He alternately tries to please his father one of England’s most valued statesmen (by warring in Greece) and by trying to further enrage his father (by acting the dilettante). His father, the esteemed Earl of Hauxton, is near death and begs Tristan to look into the death of a Russian who was connected to a Russian brothel owner known for catering to the most rapacious of tastes. In the dark hour before his father’s death, Tristan cannot refuse. This mission brings Tristan into contact with Phaedra who, along with Zoe Armstrong (bastard daughter of the Marquess of Rannoch), witnessed the last minutes of the Russian’s life.

Phaedra tries to keep what information she knows a secret because no one in her family knows that she is trying to help her maid look for the maid’s sister. Phaedra is not terribly good at keeping her secrets and Tristan is alerted to some discrepancies in her story.    Together they work to uncover the secrets of the brothel, the maid, and each other.

I read in another review (I think at Amazon) that Phaedra and Tristan are common characters in the romance genre. This is true. But they are so vividly drawn in both big and small ways. There’s a fabulously quiet scene that lasts about two pages wherein Tristan sits with his father, holding his hand, reliving some of the worst moments of their relationship but knowing that despite all that, losing his father will be awful and hoping for some measure of peace. Phaedra has all but retired from society, refusing to buy new gowns or partake in frivolity due to an episode in her past. She believes she is a woman not worthy of a good marriage and has resigned herself to being a bluestocking and eventually a spinterish bluestocking. These furtive outreaches at night are at once thrilling and a way to make the lonely life she foresees ahead of her bearable.

Even though the characters are recognizable there are little quirks or deviations from the expected paths that provide nice surprises to the reader.   You might not expect the outcomes for the father or the maid. Not everyone is set up to be the hero of another piece. Some people, seemingly good people, do unheroic things.   

One big problem for me was that so many of the characters in the book were from previous books. I felt like I could have used a glossary or family tree. It was quite frustrating at times and the website is pretty useless to assist readers in refreshing their memory as to what kids belonged to what protagonist pairings   but look here is a link to the family trees so that readers can refresh their memories.   Thanks Growly Cub.   I swear I looked for this but couldn’t find it.

The book is very steamy and I wondered at times what is the dividing line between erotic romance and regular romance because there were certainly scenes in Tempted All Night that could reach over the aisle and sit with the erotic romance books. Tristan recognizes that Phaedra needs to first understand that she can let go of her passionate nature and second that she can command her passionate nature. The usage of the sex scenes to resolve the character arcs was well done. It seemed clear that the irrepressible Tristan and the series Phaedra belonged together. B

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

15 Comments

  1. Catherine
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 11:50:24

    I really enjoyed this book but there were a few parts that didn’t work for me. There were inconsistencies with Phaedra’s use of glasses that really bugged me for some reason. I didn’t really enjoy Tristan’s willingness to make out with every person who crossed his path, but I found it refreshing in a way too. I make no sense, I know.

    I was startled whenever it was brought up that Phaedra was 21. I kept forgetting she was young because she seemed way older than that. Or at least she did in comparison to the usual 21 year olds I read about in historical romance.

    I loved Tristan’s character. I have a soft spot for the smart guy who lets everyone think he’s an idiot just because he likes to have fun. I was impressed with how things turned out with his father. It seemed to diverge from the regular path of romance. I liked it.

    I have to honestly say that I was surprised by Phaedra’s past. I can’t remember a book that dealt with an issue like that. That was horrible but fascinating at the same time. I wanted to look up the issue and see how often stuff like that happened in the past.

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  2. GrowlyCub
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 11:51:58

    I read this last week and even though it has a tad too much external plot for my taste, I really, *really* liked it. Tristan and Phae connected – for me as a reader – and as a couple in a way I haven’t seen too often lately. There’s no doubt in my mind that they were meant to be two halves of a whole.

    I thought one of the Amazon reviews was very interesting because it said more about the reviewer’s tastes with regard to sexual encounters than about the book, but it also illuminated for me that this is indeed a book I can imagine dividing an author’s fan base.

    The scenes in question were incredibly powerful to me, and I don’t usually go in that direction at all (matter of fact, I avoid books with labels that may include this in my erotic romance reading like the plague, which just shows that labels are really pernicious things, since I wouldn’t have wanted to miss reading this book for the world). I thought these scenes were a fabulous example of sex, or in this case really love-making, moving the character development forward, but I didn’t consider the same question as you did (where is the line between hot historical and erotic romance), because the descriptions and actions were so utterly *right* for the characters.

    Last week was a really good book week, for the first in quite a while. I read TAN, ‘Scandal’ by Jewel and ‘Tempt the Devil’ by Campbell; all reads that have stayed with me and now I want *more*!

    I can’t wait for the next Carlyle. My grade for TAN is an A-.

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  3. Jane
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 11:54:12

    @Catherine I thought the issue with Phaedra’s past was fascinating because it seemed so realistic. It wasn’t what I expected. It also gave you insight on Tony from a very early age. Very careless with people.

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  4. Jane
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 11:54:54

    @GrowlyCub I thought the sex scenes were really well done, but they were “different” in some sense. It reminded me a bit of the minor uproar when Goodman had her hero use a hairbrush.

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  5. GrowlyCub
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 11:59:17

    Jane, yes, there was a very ‘different’ feel, one that I connected to on a very visceral level. It’s quite fascinating, since I hadn’t gotten that from Carlyle before at all.

    Dare I ask about the hairbrush, and which Goodman is that? I have a few of hers in my TBR, but even though people keep recommending her, I haven’t been able to connect the few times I’ve tried. I have to admit, I’m obviously pervy enough to want to know about the hairbrush now… grin.

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  6. GrowlyCub
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 12:12:21

    Oh, and I was going to ask. Did you not find the family trees on the website or did you just not find them useful, Jane?

    After looking them all over, I’ve decided a Carlyle re-read is in order! :)

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  7. Michelle
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 12:24:38

    I’ve read all of Carlyle’s novels and agree that she consistently delivers. My False Heart is also my favorite – and I’m really fond of her “devil” trilogy. I have to admit though that I can’t keep all her continuing characters straight/remember who they are in successive books as I often can in other historical romance series. Is that a sign that her characterization is not as sharp as some other authors – the characters ultimately don’t “touch me” enough that I remember them – or her books are complex enough that I need reminders? I’m just not sure.

    I enjoyed TAN as well – and agree with Growly Cub that the intimate scenes showed character development.

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  8. Katherine
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 14:42:25

    I love Liz Carlyle because her writing is so rich and vivid; I thought this book was definitely a B read, but it was almost a B+ due to strong writing. I too liked Tristan and Phaedra and appreciated their quiet complexities and the small emotional touches that Carlyle put in the book. I think she does jaded characters really well (My favorites of hers are Nash and Xanthia in Never Lie to a Lady).

    Re: the sex scenes, Carlyle stuff is usually pretty steamy and she doesn’t gloss over her heroes’ previous (and current) sex lives, but even I was a little surprised about some of the material.. while I understood that it dealt with trust issues, it felt a little out of place in the book, tbh.

    PS If I recall, the Goodman hairbrush scene is in “If His Kiss is Wicked.”

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  9. Jane
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 18:46:19

    @GrowlyCub I did not find any family trees on the website. Did you?

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  10. GrowlyCub
    Mar 09, 2009 @ 18:48:36

    Jane,

    http://www.lizcarlyle.com/familytrees.html

    First link on the right on the main page. Let me know if you find them helpful. I admit that after reading them all again, I recognized only a few of the names. Just started re-reading ‘My False Heart’ to fix that, grin.

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  11. mia madwyn
    Mar 30, 2009 @ 05:39:26

    I’ve looked at reviews and even Carlyle’s website and can’t determine what time period this book is. Is it a Regency? (The info might be buried in a review somewhere but I’ve been avoiding them. Your B rating and comments about Carlyle’s other work are enough to tempt me, and once I decide to read a book, I don’t want to risk spoilers by reading reviews.)

    So… time period, please? Thank you!

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  12. Christine M.
    Mar 30, 2009 @ 08:36:22

    @mia madwyn

    According to the singletitles.com review, this is set during the Regency period, but since I haven’t read this book myself, I can’t confirm the information.

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  13. GrowlyCub
    Mar 31, 2009 @ 19:18:02

    Mia,

    you could call it number 4 in the Neville story line. It takes place after ‘Never Romance a Rake’. Date on the first page is 1830.

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  14. Kat
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 00:27:38

    I just reread this book, and I came over to see if DA had reviewed it. Funny that Jo Goodman is mentioned in the comments, because some parts of Tempted All Night reminded me of Goodman and also Kinsale’s Shadowheart (possibly because of the mild bondage, but mostly because of the darker tone). I found the external plot too overdone, but the romance was just lovely.

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  15. Too Much of a Good Thing? I’m Having a Hard Time Keeping Up with Liz Carlyle | Badass Romance
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 20:54:10

    […] as many people head-desking over trying to keep track of the connections. Almost everyone seems to agree that My False Heart is an amazing novel, and that the treatment of anti-semitism in Regency England […]

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