St. James Club Series, Book 3
ISBN: 978-0-06-196577-7 (Print)
ISBN: 978-0-06-213642-8 (eBook)
August 2012
Historical Romantic Suspense

London, 1848

To begin, I will borrow a paragraph from my review of the previous novel, THE BRIDE WORE SCARLET, August 2011.

From the beginning there have been humans born with unusual talents or gifts. Sometimes they have been honored, even venerated. Other times they were feared and persecuted, to be hunted near extinction. Long ago, others, who may or may not have been gifted, banded together to protect them. Today the ancient Fraternitas Aureae Crusis exists in varying strengths. In England, they masquerade as an exclusive London club for gentlemen, the St. James Society. They are the Guardians of the Gifts.

One of the Guardians, strongly gifted himself, is the product of a highly placed Indian mother and a Scotch father, a nabob with the East India Company. Through diligent service to queen and country, Adrian Forsythe, Marquess of Ruthveyn is a power in Town in spite of his mixed blood. He and his friends, Lords Bessett and Lazonby, founded the St. James Society as cover for the ancient FAC brotherhood . But Ruthveyn's story has already been told in the first book of the series, ONE TOUCH OF SCANDAL (October 2010). As Ruthveyn prepared to leave on an extended marriage journey, he recommended to his sister, the widowed Lady Anisha Stanford, that she consider marrying Lord Bessett, but warned her to stay far away from Lord Lazonby.

After the deaths of her father and English husband, Lady Anisha and her two sons left Calcutta to make their home in London at the invitation of her brother. Though not a Guardian herself, she's familiar with the Brotherhood, and she even has talents of her own in the tradition of her native land. Anisha doesn't fit in well with English Society; she's rather too exotic for them and most are too shallow for her. She does consider that marriage with Bessett might be an advantage to her sons, but it's Lazonby who attracts her.

Well before Rance Welham became Lord Lazonby, he was sentenced to hang for a murder he did not commit. The Brotherhood saved him from the noose, and he spent years in the French Foreign Legion. Those were not his finest hours; he spent much of his time in debauchery. Then his friends were able to have him exonerated and he returned to England…though not everyone was happy to see him. Rance plans to prove himself innocent by finding the real culprit, and then have his revenge. As we see throughout the series, the Gifts can also be curses.

Anisha is a strong and admirable person, a good mother, friend, and sister to her half brother (a wild young man born to her father's second—and English—wife). Rance is harder to like; he needs to rehabilitate himself through much of the story. But his life has been such a miserable one that we can hardly blame him for wanting what temporary escape he finds.

THE BRIDE WORE PEARLS is complex and character rich. (Maybe complicated is a better word.) The three books overlap in time, most of the principal players people all three, and several plot lines run throughout. One must concentrate to catch all the actions and motivations.

Ms. Carlyle is an excellent writer who can put one right into a scene. The various characters are complete as to the present, though little time is spent on their early lives except occasionally in retrospect. Aside from that, the era and settings are detailed and well drawn. THE BRIDE WORE PEARLS is a novel I can highly recommend, but must say that it would be greatly to anyone's advantage to read them in order. (Part way into Pearls, I went back and re-read the first two novels and found them still fresh.)

Jane Bowers