Confessions of a Little Black Gown
by Elizabeth Boyle
Elizabeth Boyle is an evil, evil woman, which I told her when I recently met her and she giggled gleefully. The ending of Confessions of a Little Black Gown just kills me, and it continues to every time I think about it. Of course I can't tell you the ending, so let me start at the beginning. It all started with a missing trunk...and a little black dress.
The American privateer Captain Dashwell has escaped from prison before the crown can execute him and, since Dash knows too much, it is up to Lord Geoffrey Larken to find him and kill him. All the Crown knows is that a lady in a scandalous red dress distracted the guards while her accomplices freed the privateer and they suspect that Lady Phillipa Knowles and her cousin Thalia Langley are the culprits. Posing as a vicar, Larken attends the Hollindrake's houseparty and begins his search for Dash. What he doesn't expect is for Tally Langley to appear in a black dress that looks like it could belong to a member of the Order of the Black Lily, a group of French female assassins, and the group that killed his father. As he is trying to investigate the whereabouts of Dash, and discover the origins of that dress, he discovers that more is at stake than the escape of Captain Dashwell.
Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg in Confessions of a Little Black Gown, and Elizabeth Boyle proves once again that she is a master at writing a fun and feisty story with unforgettable characters. Since this is the story of Tally Langley, we get to meet her twin sister Felicity Langley again, and she is still a very annoying character, which was fine when it was her book (Love Letters from a Duke), but she almost took over Tally's story and she drove me crazy--but, Ms. Boyle redeems her in the end and I ended up not being as annoyed.
The chemistry between Tally and Larken sizzles, which surprises him, but not her. Normally the heroine is afraid of their feelings of desire, but Tally knew the first time she hears Larken speak that he is the one for her. Of course the first time she hears him he is hidden in the shadows of her brother-in-law's study and when he comes out into the light, not only is he dressed as a vicar, but he speaks completely differently and Tally thinks she must have imagined it--at first. Larken may be a master spy, but he is no match for the Langley sisters, or their cousin, and Tally quickly figures out that he is there to find Dash. Tally and Pippin (though mostly Tally) do everything in their power to distract him from his task, which makes for a very entertaining read, with a couple of surprises in the end.
Along the way, we are treated to the love story of Dash and Pippin, which has played a small role in all of the books in Ms. Boyle's "Bachelor Chronicles Series," and I was rooting for them throughout the entire book. Their story is up next, and hopefully Ms. Boyle will explain his escape from prison and what she was thinking when she ended Confessions of a Little Black Gown the way she did. Elizabeth Boyle keeps getting better and better, but doesn't it just drive you crazy when your favorite author throws you for a loop with an unexpected twist? Luckily I won't have to wait a year for Pippin and Dash's story as it will be available in May -- thank the book gods! This one is not to be missed!
“Every lady needs a little black dress.”
April 2009, 384 pages
Thalia Langley spied him in the shadows and in an instant, knew the man before her was no pious saint. He might claim to be the Duke of Hollindrake's unassuming country cousin, Milo Ryder, but no man that handsome, so arresting could be anything but...well, he simply must be an unrepentant rogue. His cat-like grace and power leaves Tally shivering in her slippers at the notion of all the wicked, forbidden things he might be capable of doing...to her, or the secrets he could uncover.
Indeed, Lord Larken is no bumbling vicar, but a master spy there in His Majesty's service to find--and murder--a notorious pirate freed in a daring prison escape. Devoted to the Crown, Larken's not about to let an interfering (and not entirely innocent) Mayfair miss disrupt his ruthless plans. He cannot be tempted...not even by the little black gown she dons to tantalize him...a dress revealing enough to lead even Larken astray.