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Book Cover C2’s review of The Bride Wore Scarlet (Fraternitas Series, Book 2) by Liz Carlyle
Historical Romance published by Avon 26 Jul 11

With The Bride Wore Scarlet, Liz Carlyle continues her foray into the paranormal. The St. James Society is a front for an ancient brotherhood sworn to protect those with The Gift. Regency rakes with their own mysterious abilities find and protect others from persecution and exploitation. Sound like an intriguing premise for romance? Maybe not…

Geoffrey Archard, Earl of Besset, is one of the founders of the St. James Society and a member of the Fraternitas Aureae Crucis (from here on referred to as the F.A.C.). Geoff has just learned of a little girl in Belgium that possesses The Gift and is in the clutches of an evil uncle who means to use her for his own gains. The F.A.C. needs to rescue her.

Lady Anais de Rohan has just arrived in London to request membership into the F.A.C. She knows there has never been a female member in recent times, but Celtic priestesses were among the founders, most likely, so she tries to think positive. Her hopes are dashed when Lord Besset and some other members are flabbergasted by the presence of a woman in the ceremonial chamber.

Undaunted, she returns to the home of the St. James Society the next morning to discuss the matter. She is again told she will not be allowed membership, but as a friend of the F.A.C, they would like her assistance in the matter of rescuing a young child. Anais and Geoff will pose as a married couple living next door to the evil uncle and find a way to get the little girl and her mother to safety. Of course, Anais agrees.

Let me insert something here, faithful reader. I have a pet peeve about weird names whose pronunciations are never explained. My brain hangs up every time I run across such names because it wants to try different ways of saying them. Stupid brain. Onward!

The basic plot is pretty standard for romances – our hero and heroine pretend to be married in order to rescue someone/uncover a plot, etc., and fall in love along the way. You would think introducing a paranormal element like The Gift would give new life to the plot. Not so much. There isn’t enough paranormal stuff to really rev things up and not much else to try to make the plot interesting.

I have to say I struggled to finish this book. If I had not been given this book to review, I would have set it aside very early on. I didn’t connect with the characters, the whole secret society thing didn’t catch my interest, and the overall plot didn’t engage me. Also, I find it annoying that the author is almost trying to rewrite history from earlier books – the hero and heroine are children of couples from earlier novels with nary a whisper of paranormal to be found.

All in all, I’m disappointed. I can’t point to any one thing that makes this a bad book. But I’d never say it’s a good one either. Apparently this is a trilogy. I hope Ms. Carlyle returns to her straight historical roots after she wraps this up. I really enjoyed several of her earlier books.

CSquareds C2 Icon Grade: C-


Passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant façade of Victorian high society in the second book of Liz Carlyle’s spellbinding Fraternitas trilogy . . .

Anais de Rohan was raised from childhood to become a Guardian—a covert warrior trained in the ways of a secret militia so ancient its existence is believed mere legend. When Anais presents herself for initiation, however, her male compatriots are impressed with nothing save her hot temper and dark allure.

But when one of the St. James Society’s darkest, most enigmatic leaders challenges Anais to prove herself, she boldly accepts. Courting ruin to pose as Lord Bessett’s new bride, Anais must travel with the handsome, ruthless nobleman on a mission to save one of their own—a little girl with frightening gift—from danger.

But as intrigue swirls about them, drawing them ever closer, Anais begins to realize that their mission is hardly the only challenge she faces, for Lord Bessett is proving a temptation too hard to resist. As for Bessett himself—well, he might be a soldier sworn to the Society, but he certainly isn’t anyone’s saint . . .

Read an excerpt.

Other books in the series:

Book Cover