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REVIEW: Never Romance a Rake by Liz Carlyle

Dear Ms. Carlyle,

book review Well, after my last letter to you, I bet you never thought I’d be writing another. I dare say you probably wanted to give me a total body paper cut and then pour lemon juice all over me. But I’m a sucker for Jane saying, “No, really, it’s good. You should read it. She didn’t back out of having Kieran be a real rake, didn’t dumb him down, didn’t pull his claws.” And as I found out, Kieran actually has a real reason for his self-destructive behavior instead of just sulking and being melodramatic for no good cause.

I did have to get past the prologue which I found to be terribly overwritten and filled to the brim with adjectives. And the fact that except for a few phrases thrown into her speech here and there, the ‘raised in France’ heroine doesn’t sound very French. I thought it odd that Xanthia would haul off a guest during her after dinner party for a private chat instead of circulating as a good hostess should. The conversation between Kieran and Gareth during the first scene at Tattersalls made me think to myself, “These are two men talking? Two Englishmen? Wow, very emo on Gareth’s part.” Oh, and the first time Kieran and Camille were intimate, my thoughts echoed Kieran’s who knew it was tasteless and “probably the worst possible position for a woman of no experience.”

But for most of the rest of the novel, and that’s most of the novel, I was absorbed. Jane was right. I did need to read this or I could have made the mistake of crossing you off my reading list. Thanks Jane.

  • I liked that there’s no spying nonsense and Kemble keeps his intrigues to himself. I hope that he and Camille will whip Kieran’s London house into decorating shape. I know I’d like to be let loose in his place of “Elegant Oddities and Fine Folderol.”
  • I like that Kieran says, “I am a wretched old reprobate and habituated in sin.” As I mentioned before, you really give this man a reason to drink and smoke himself to death as he frequents hellholes and places of ill repute. What he did and what he, rightly or wrongly, blames himself for are hard sins to live with. He wasn’t alone in his sin and thank you for not making the one he sinned with into a total beyotch. Plus we get to learn what he holds over their Aunt Olivia! Something I’ve wondered about since the first book.
  • I like that Camille is practical. That she sees in her father’s drunken offer to gamble her marriage to one of the rakes currently at his house in the wee hours of the morning a way to get away from him, take control of her destiny and that she doesn’t hesitate when the chips are down. I like that she keeps her heart whole and knows that this is a marriage of convenience – at least until she finally admits to herself that she’s fallen in love.
  • And speaking of love, I like that you show us the reasons Camille and Kieran fall for each other instead of waving your authorial magic wand and telling us they are. And then expecting us to believe it in the face of all you’ve thrown in their path to true love. I like that they fully accept that they’ve fallen in love and don’t turn on each other as a way to deny it to themselves.

    “Once upon a time, he had foolishly believed Camille cold. But she was not cold, she was strong – and there was a world of difference between the two. Without him, Camille would survive. Without her, Kieran feared, he might not. He loved her. Completely, fully, he loved her. It was not an emotion he welcomed and yet it came to him with searing certainty.”

  • I like that the truth behind Kieran’s health problem is realistic, medically sound, and I can believe in the cure. I laughed when the second doctor says, “Yes, but I find an exorbitant fee tends to dramatically increase the value of my advice. And I like the terminally ill to pay straightaway. After all, one never knows.”
  • Though I usually don’t care for the miraculous way romance characters find out their true family history, I will admit that in this book, you coat the bitter pill enough for me to swallow it and be okay with it.

I’m putting this next bit under spoiler wraps. I’m so glad that Camille’s real father turns out to be a stand up guy. I can understand that he can’t bring himself to forgive her mother but when he said, “You and your husband and his family, too. Let me get to know you, and embrace you. I have a child. After all these years! And yet I do not know so much as your favorite color, your favorite poem. Can you imagine, even for an instant, what a hell that is to me?” Well, I just lurve to see me a romance father who feels this way.

Yes, I’m glad I read this one. I’m glad Jane cajoled me into it and mailed it to me despite my thoughts on the earlier books in the series. B


This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Jane
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 15:50:53

    Yeah! I got one right. I did think that Kiernan’s reason for wanting to die was a good one and I also thought that Camille was a good fit for him. She was relentlessly pragmatic and he was full of melodrama. A good pair.

  2. SonomaLass
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 15:58:25

    I laughed when the second doctor says, “Yes, but I find an exorbitant fee tends to dramatically increase the value of my advice. And I like the terminally ill to pay straightaway. After all, one never knows.”

    Oh my, for that alone I would want to read this one. If Jane and Jayne both like it, that’s a pretty good indication that I should add it to my TBR pile. Thanks as usual, Jayne, for articulating so clearly what did and didn’t work for you.

  3. Janine
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 16:04:52

    I have the impression that Jane and Jayne agree on books more often than they disagree. Sort of like me and Jennie. I could be wrong, though.

    This book sounds good but I have fallen behind on my Carlyle reading. Is it best to start at the beginning of this series or can I start with this one?

  4. Jayne
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 17:46:57

    I think Jane and I usually tend to agree on historicals more than contemporaries. Though we have had some more dualing opinions on a few. Like for instance the second book in this trilogy!

  5. Jayne
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 17:51:09

    Janine, I think you could easily start with this book as long as you know that Kieran is eating himself alive with angst and guilt. Or at least you could skip book two as that heroine only has a walk on mention and the hero, Gareth, is only in a few scenes. Neither of them or their story figures into this book in any way.

    Carlyle explains who people are, what their relationships to each other are and most of the book deals with Kieran and Camille.

  6. Janine
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 17:52:38

    That’s interesting. Jane also seems to me to be more drawn to fantasy and urban fantasy, while I tend to think of you as being more drawn to unusual settings.

    Does Never Romance a Rake stand on its own or is it important to read the series in order?

  7. Janine
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 17:53:28

    Oops, cross posted. Thanks Jayne!

  8. Jayne
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 17:56:38

    Oh Jane definitely reads more urban fantasy/paranormals than I do. And more Harlequin Presents! But historicals are where we do tend to agree.

  9. Jane
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 18:39:42

    Jayne reads more unusual historical settings. I’m definitely less adventurous. And I think she reads, in contemporary, more women’s fiction/and what is formerly known as chick lit. I think we definitely have a different “funny” meter.

    But we both love those traditional regencies and alot of similar historicals. But, I know that Jayne doesn’t like Laurens and Laurens is like a guilty pleasure of mine.

  10. raine
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 21:08:58

    I read this book the other night and was hooked. I literally did not sleep until I finished it (paid the price at work the next day) This book is easily the best in the series.
    I loved the way the author didn’t shy away from the reason behind Kieran’s “darkness” and didn’t try to sugarcoat it as most romance novels do. I also liked the way the lead characters are fleshed out, making them solid instead of mere cardboard cutouts.
    This book is a definite improvement from the previous book in the series.
    In my opinion (though I’m not a professional, just someone who devours romance novels) this latest effort from Ms Carlyle deserves a B+.

  11. K. Z. Snow
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 21:38:53

    made me think to myself

    Jayne, just one little thing: You needn’t tell people you thought something to yourself. Unless you’re a powerful psychic to whose thoughts many people are receptive, there’s nobody you can “think to” except yourself. “Made me think” would suffice.

    (Please forgive me! This expression has been a thorn in my butt for years — like “hot-water heater”. Maybe I’m channeling George Carlin.)

  12. raine
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 22:24:20

    Oh and yeah, a shout out from Melbourne to all the Ja(y)nes. I stumbled across this site by accident last April when I was looking for book reviews on a book that I was hesitant to buy. Needless to say, I’ve been visiting this site eversince. More often that not, I agree with the reviews you have posted. Keep up the good work. :)

  13. Kristie(J)
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 22:28:38

    Oh Goody!! Another book I can pick up at the literacy signing!!

  14. Annie Marie
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 23:55:36

    Thanks for reviewing this one. I surprised myself by buying it and enjoying it, as I had previously crossed Liz Carlyle off my list of authors to buy from this genre. Likewise, I was surprised and pleased that Jayne reviewed it favorably. I was so very disappointed in this series up until now, and while my elevated opinion of this book does not round out my overall negative feelings toward this series, it definitely renews my hope in this author. I thought that both hero and heroine were strong, yet not overbearing. Each had tragic personal histories which were honored by how the author chose to resolve them, not only “together” as a couple, but individually as well. It is refreshing to read a romance in which conflicts are not simply resolved once the hero and heroine are married or because great sex fixes all (and there is no lack of great sex in this book).

  15. Jayne
    Jul 24, 2008 @ 05:46:51

    LOL, KZ. Maybe it’s a Southern thing. I’ll try and eliminate that phrase from now on. And no, I don’t guess that anyone out there has a lukewarm water heater. At least, not on purpose.

  16. Jayne
    Jul 24, 2008 @ 05:59:15

    ONYA Raine. Thanks for stopping by. Are you going to the Romance conference in August? I know Angela James will be there as well as a wonderful slate of authors.

  17. Jayne
    Jul 24, 2008 @ 06:08:09

    You and me both, Annie Marie. I had decided I would not be reading this book even though the hero snagged my interest from book one. My grades went from C+ (Never Lie to a Lady) to D (Never Deceive a Duke) and I thought, why put myself through this? Maybe it worked for me because I went into it thinking I’d nothing to lose and had no high hopes. Or perhaps it’s because I finally got to read Kieran’s book. I’m still leery about plunking down money for whatever comes next from Carlyle but at least she’s not on my auto-no list.

  18. Jayne
    Jul 24, 2008 @ 06:10:28

    Kristie I remember Jane goggling about all the swag at RWA. I wonder if anyone’s ever tried to calculate roughly how many books will be at a RWA conference?

  19. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 24, 2008 @ 09:48:13

    This description of Kiernan reminded me of Carlyle’s Devil series. The Devil to Pay features a hero who is a womanizer and a drunk, sympathetic but not “romanticized” if that makes sense. The heroine ties him to a bed and robs him blind. It’s one of my favorite scenes of all time.

    Also, in The Devil You Know, the hero is promiscuous for a very realistic, very heartbreaking reason. Not just a male rite of passage, as this behavior is often portrayed.

    Not sure if DA has reviewed either of these, but IMO they are Carlyle’s best. If you like Kiernan, you might like…etc.

  20. Michelle
    Jul 24, 2008 @ 09:55:36


    I actually think there might have been a post at romancing the blog last year regarding all the free books given away at rwa national. The main point of it was how many books were actually thrown away at the end of the conference and was there a way to stop that.

  21. Janine
    Jul 24, 2008 @ 12:00:26

    I had great fun reading The Devil to Pay. I don’t think that series was reviewed here — I think it may have come out before the inception of Dear Author.

  22. Review, Never Romance a Rake, Liz Carlyle « Racy Romance Reviews
    Aug 26, 2008 @ 19:38:27

    […] on the Web: Jayne, Dear Author, Grade: […]

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    […] repute. What he did and what he, rightly or wrongly, blames himself for are hard sins to live with. Read more here. Recommended by Jayne and […]

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