The Bride Wore Pearls is the third book in Liz Carlyle's "Fraternitas" series and we finally get a resolution to a murder mystery and a simmering romance.
Rance Welham is a charming ne'er-do-well - the worst kind. His steeped-in-vice lifestyle was responsible for him being imprisoned on murder charges. While he was cleared, a cloud remains over him and he is bent on revenge toward whoever set him up. He has no time for love with Anisha, his best friend's sister, and knows that he is not nearly good enough for her.
After the death of her husband, Lady Anisha, half-Indian daughter of a duke, arrives with her children to live with her brother in London. Rance meets her ship and it is lust at first sight. However, both try to be sensible, both have been warned by Anisha's brother that Rance is too wrapped up in his own darkness and revenge to build a life with someone and Rance and Anisha agree with him. They decide to eschew romance and be friends, but there is always an underlying tension in all their interactions.
I loved Rance and Anisha's relationship. Carlyle is so very good at ramping up the sexual tension without beating you over the head with it and the payoff, when it finally arrives, is fabulous. Pass me my hartshorn!
What did not work as well for me was the mystery of who framed Rance for murder. A local newspaper reporter is dogging Rance everywhere he goes and Rance knows Coldwater has vital information about it, but he goes about getting it all wrong. There are many fits and starts, conversations and encounters that are suddenly broken off to no purpose except to prolong the mystery. This was especially frustrating as I had Coldwater's role in this figured out fairly early but Rance was oblivious - not in keeping with his otherwise intelligent characterization.
So, a mixed review from me. Loved Rance and Anisha's relationship, the tension, the love scenes, was disappointed in the mystery.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, July 27, 2012