No doubt I’m amongst the last few who haven’t read this trilogy by Liz Carlyle following the lives and soul journeys of three good friends – the MacLachlan brothers and Quin, the Earl of Wynwood. A word of warning to those who think kids shouldn’t appear in a romance: these three novels have babies and kids playing a pivotal role in some scenes, so if you’re averse to juniors, best set these aside.
Lucky for me, I don’t mind stories where children are seen and heard, but I do need the scenes involving these little characters to build up the story arc, not merely serve an ornamental purpose. The covers of these three books are eye catching enough to entice you to read the synopsis behind, so that was an attractive bonus to me. However, if I were to base the merits of this series on the debut itself, I would have been disinclined to read on. It was out of sheer curiosity about Merrick that I chased down the series and finally got going with the reading. Therefore, I shall review them in order of preference.
Among the three it is surely Merrick’s and Madeleine’s story in Three Little Secrets which captured my imagination. Just imagine a secret marriage, a clairvoyant offspring and an enigmatic and embittered hero. Oh yes, it is the tortured soul of architect Merrick that yearns to be redeemed by the same old first love that intrigues me. You know the type, the gruff no-nonsense mercenary businessman who turns out to be a sensitive, artistic and old-fashioned romantic at heart. How could I resist?
This story works for me because the second chance granted to the star-crossed lovers is believable, the circumstances realistic. There were no insurmountable obstacles in the end, the two protagonists need only to be firm in their love for each other and put aside their overweening pride and insecurities to see each other as the missing half that complements their soul. I only wish the heroine had not been so spineless in her salad days.
In Two Little Lies, pride and insecurity, and overwhelming odds on the heroine, Viviana’s situation, which drove the young lovers apart. Reunited under tenuous circumstances – Quin’s betrothal party, Vivie must find a way to convince the proud Earl that they belong together, for this may be the last chance and her heart is at stake. Not to mention the happiness of the daughter she borne him out of wedlock, unbeknownst to him.
One Little Sin turned out to be a small misunderstanding and a huge lie instead. Although how could the two lead characters, Alasdair and Esmee, mistake a child with obvious genetic traits of another for the rogue’s is really anybody’s guess. The reasons Alasdair gave himself for not asking for Esmee’s hand in marriage were really feeble excuses – age gap, experience (he a reprobate and she an utter innocent) and some misguided conscience rooted in the false belief that he has fathered a baby with Esmee’s mother. The secondary characters propped up the story arc though, so this was alright after all.
My one bit of illicit excitement was the confrontation between Quin and Viviana, so imagine my hurry to finish with this book so I can move on to the next instalment. The verbal sparring between the second pair kept me entertained, while the sizzling chemistry between Merrick and Madeleine was what kept my nose to the book. So yes, if you pick up this series, read the first book just to get the context of the gypsy’s cryptic prophecy. Other than that, the rest of the story is just to build up the background for the next two. Trust me, Ms Carlyle saved the best for last.