National bestselling author Liz Carlyle concludes her scandalous new trilogy with a sensuous novel of two star-crossed souls who share a secret or two . . . or three.
Once upon a time, they eloped. But then dashing Scotsman Merrick MacLachlan accepted payment from Lady Madeleine's father to have the marriage annulled. Or did he?
Two times, Maddie has wed. Once for love, once for comfort. Yet once more she is alone with only her beloved son and his haunting visions for company. Until fate thrusts her back into the arms of her first love.
Three little secrets dance between them. One is that he desires her as much as ever; another is that she's never forgotten his touch. But the scars of their youthful passion run deep, and the third secret will either mark their undoing . . . or spark the sizzling reunion they dare not dream of.
While it's standard practice for books in a romance trilogy to share unifying elements-such as setting, characters and themes-few recycle plot devices as blatantly as the tales in Carlyle's historical Little trilogy (One Little Sin; Two Little Lies). In this third installment of the Regency saga, Carlyle spins a story of long-separated lovers who reunite, but only after much argument, miscommunication and the revelation of a baby's less-than-surprising true parentage. The plot will ring familiar to Carlyle's fans, primarily because it's a carbon copy of Two Little Lies. As in Lies, the hero and heroine-in this case hardened businessman Merrick MacLachlan and his former beau, Lady Madeleine Bessett-meet by chance in London and then spend the bulk of the book casting each other longing looks, declaring they want nothing to do with one another and indulging in angst-ridden personal flashbacks; it all grows tedious fast. It's a testament to Carlyle's skill that her characters engage despite the familiar setup, but in the end, they aren't dynamic enough to satisfy the story line or the reader. This book may contain Carlyle's signature sensuality, but it lacks the complexity of plot and character that made her earlier romances shine. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 20, 2006
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Excerpt from Three Little Secrets by Liz Carlyle
Money's like the muck midden;
it does nae good 'til it be spread.
The Scots say that a tale never loses in the telling, and the tale of Merrick MacLachlan had been told a thousand times. In the drawing rooms and club rooms and back rooms of London, MacLachlan had been growing richer and darker and more malevolent by the season, until, in the summer of his life, the man was thought a veritable Shylock, ever searching for his pound of flesh.
Those who did business with the Black MacLachlan did so honestly, and with a measure of trepidation. Some became rich in return, for the color of money often rubs off. Others fared less well, and their tales were told, more often than not, in the insolvent debtors' court. Miss Kitty Coates had scarcely fared at all and couldn't even spell insolvent. The sort of business she did with MacLachlan meant that she was always giving her bawd an ample cut.
At the moment, however, Kitty had better things to think about than her ill luck at arithmetic and spelling, for the afternoon sun was slanting low through the windows of MacLachlan's makeshift bedchamber, casting a keen blade of light across the gentleman's bare shoulders. And across the scars, too hideous white welts that crisscrossed the hard flesh of his biceps and even down his back. Kitty had long since grown accustomed to them. She spread her fingers wide in the soft, dark hair which dusted his chest, and held on tight as she rode him.
Just then, a clock in the outer office struck five. With three or four hard thrusts upward, MacLachlan finished his business, then rolled Kitty onto her back and dragged a well-muscled arm over his eyes. The message was clear.
"We don't have to quit just yet, Mr. MacLachlan, do we " Kitty rolled back up again and traced one finger lightly down the scar which curled like a scimitar's blade up his cheek. "Why, I could stay on a little longer say, two quid for the whole night " The warm finger drew back up again. "Aye, we'd have us a fine old time, you and me."
MacLachlan threw back the sheets, pushed her away, and rolled out of the narrow bed. "Put your clothes on, Kitty." His voice was emotionless. "Leave by the back stairs today. The office staff is still at work."
Her expression tightened, but she said nothing. MacLachlan stood, gritting his teeth against the pain in his lower leg. He did not move until he was confident he could do so without limping, then he went into the dressing room and meticulously washed himself.
By the time he returned to his pile of carefully folded clothing, Kitty was wriggling back into her rumpled red dress, her eyebrows snapped tautly together, her expression dark. "'Ow long, Mr. MacLachlan, 'ave I been coming round 'ere "
MacLachlan suppressed a sigh of exasperation. "I have no notion, Kitty."
"Well, I knows exactly 'ow long," she said peevishly. "Four months and a fortnight, to the very day."
"I did not take you for the sentimental type." MacLachlan was busy pulling on his drawers.
"Every Monday and Thursday since the first o' February," Kitty went on. "And in all that time, you've scarce said a dozen words ter me."
"I did not realize that you came all the way from Soho for the erudite conversation," he answered, unfolding his trousers. "I thought you were here for the money."