The Bride Wore Scarlet (Fraternitas #2)

The Bride Wore ScarletBy Liz Carlyle

Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: July 26, 2011
Genre: Historical Paranormal
Source: Publisher

Passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant faÇade of Victorian London in another deliciously intriguing novel featuring the mysterious men of the St. James Society.

AnaÏs de Rohan has faced danger in her past, but never anything so great as posing as the new bride to one of the St. James Society’s most magnetic—and ruthless—leaders. But Lord Bessett’s bold challenge to prove herself worthy of joining his secret all-male society is impossible to resist. So she daringly agrees to travel with the enigmatic nobleman on a dangerous mission to save one of their own—a little girl with a frightening gift.

Soon intrigue swirls about them, drawing them ever closer. And AnaÏs quickly realizes that the intimacy of sharing Lord Bessett’s bedroom is proving a temptation impossible to resist. As for Bessett himself—well, he might be a soldier sworn to the Society, but he certainly isn’t anyone’s saint. . . .

Goodreads Summary

It was literally in the cards that Anais de Rohan would attempt to become the first member of the age-old, all-male St. James Society. Her nonna had the gift of being able to read the tarot and had been seeing Anais’ future path for years, one that her parents would be completely opposed to. She entrusted her education to her Aunt Maria and for nearly half of her life, Anais had been making secret trips to train with her uncle, one of the Society’s most famous and respected members.

She’s found someone to sponsor her at her initiation in London but of course things go completely awry when the members find out the candidate is a woman. It doesn’t matter who her sponsor or trainer is, the Society is in an uproar and nearly all of the members are ready to flat-out send her packing – nearly all.

Just a day earlier another Society agent arrived asking for the London group’s help. They fear a child with the gift of precognition and her mother are being held under duress by someone who intends to use the child for treasonous purposes. The agent thinks the best way to extract both the mother and child is for someone in the Society to find a woman to pose as his wife, befriend the mother and convince her to leave. The only problem with the plan is that none of the Society members available for the job know anyone suitable to play the role of wife – that is until Anais shows up and a plan is hatched.

Lord Bessett doesn’t want Anais in the St. James Society but he’s not above a little scheming. He tells her that if she goes on this mission she can have a chance to prove herself worthy of the group knowing full well that the feisty Anais will accept. He thinks he’ll be in charge of things but he finds out quickly that she’s unmanageable in every single way and she turns any seduction he has in mind around and makes him the seduced.

When I picked this, I didn’t know it was the second in a series – the cover doesn’t say anything and I don’t know enough about Liz Carlyle’s books to have had any idea.  The first is One Touch of Scandal and is about one of Bessett’s friends and fellow Society members – I had to go digging for this since I knew the third would be called The Bride Wore Pearls and silly me, I thought the first would be The Bride Wore..something.

The St. James Society members all have some sort of paranormal ability and their mission is to protect and in some cases, nurture others who also have those abilities. Since they’re often passed down through bloodlines, it was always assumed that Anais’ brother would be the one who would be chosen to join the Society which is why when her nonna read the cards and saw it was to be her, she had her trained in secret with her uncle.

Lord Bessett is sort of what you’d expect from an arrogant secret-Society type. He assumes a woman needs protecting, can’t think her way out of a paper bag and is shocked and aroused when she does anything more placid than fold her hands demurely in her lap and look at him adoringly. He redeems himself quickly when he hears her uncle trained her and that she’s amazing with swords and when he has to acknowledge her brains and wit with her conversational skills. He had a fun dynamic with Anais as they dueled for control of the mission and played their roles in public. Their private moments were well done and unusual – in historicals it’s not often that the hero is the one who keeps calling a halt to things while the heroine keeps trying to convince him that it’s okay to go ahead.

I really had a problem with Bessett’s paranormal ability. He’d been suppressing it for a long time, generally because he hadn’t been taught how to use it well – there is a very long and tortured explanation about why that makes only a small amount of sense. His ability is so out of proportion in size and violence with every other character’s ability in the book that I questioned its inclusion. I really felt like I was reading two books when it finally manifested itself. It’s like eating cereal for breakfast and someone throws a Thanksgiving turkey on the table.

At this point the book is hanging on to a low C rating by the tips of its fingernails but Anais came along and dragged it up by sheer will. I adored her. If I got to be a character in a book for a day – and I couldn’t be Eve Dallas – I’d probably want to be just like her. She’s brilliant, as sleek and agile as a cat, wickedly sharp-witted and murderously talented with a blade. Her paranormal ability of reading tarot cards was inherited from her nonna and she also has the gift of sixth sense. When she was a child and her nonna continually read the cards for her that predicted she would train for the St. James Society they also foretold of the man she would marry – and it didn’t look like it was Bessett. She wasn’t opposed to a fling though and I loved that her sexual assertiveness with him matched the way she was with everything. Anais’ personality and the way she moved through the action kept me in the story.

The villain was suitably creepy and the situation with the child’s mother was sad but not anything particularly new. The child didn’t play as much of a role as I wanted but the story was Anais and Bessett’s so I wasn’t as bothered by it as I could have been.

My Summary: There were pieces in the beginning that I had a feeling referenced the earlier book that didn’t bother me so I think this works fine as a standalone. When Bessett’s ability first manifested itself, I knew immediately I was going to have a problem with it because up until that point everyone else’s abilities had been rather contained. It felt like a fairly tight and fun historical romance with some little paranormal touches got derailed by one big unfocused, unfinished and unnecessary phenomenon. The characters were too good to have to saddle with it.

My Rating: a very close B-

Barbara

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Comments

  1. I think I want to be Anais too! Even though I'm not sure how to pronounce her name. Sounds like this was a good historical, but not any different than all the other ones out there.

  2. In both Catalan (upper Spain) and French, Anais is pronounced An-nah-eece, with the accent on the "eece" part. And yes, I had to Google it and I found a wonderful site that had some awesome .mp3s of guys saying the name. ;)The historical wasn't anything spectacular, the little paranormal bits were pretty interesting, the big one was weird and Anais was stunning. lol

  3. Okay, I dorked that one by a letter. Instead of using the POWAH of the Admin and erasing that post and making a new one, I'm just posting again.It's Ah-nah-eece not "An-na-eece" with an "n" in the first syllable.

  4. You are so helpful! I would never even think to look search on the internet for .mp3 files of men pronouncing it for me. Now when I read it I won't just glaze over her name!

  5. Hi Congratulations! you just won 6 awards claim it here ^_^http://kimyunalesca.blogspot.com/2011/07/you-deserve-these.html

  6. Thank you, kimyunalesca! I'm going to have to plead stupidity and laziness though – I have no clue how to do blog awards and though I know I've seen them, I haven't really thought about what to do with them here. I'm so happy that you've stopped here and added me to your list although I'm not sure that I can do anything with it. 😦

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