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The Bride Wore Scarlet

The Bride Wore Scarlet

3.8 37
by Liz Carlyle

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Intriguing...engaging...an illicit delight.”
—Stephanie Laurens

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Liz Carlyle ushers readers once again inside the mysterious St James Club, where passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant façade of Victorian London. In her deliciously intriguing The Bride Wore Scarlet


Intriguing...engaging...an illicit delight.”
—Stephanie Laurens

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Liz Carlyle ushers readers once again inside the mysterious St James Club, where passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant façade of Victorian London. In her deliciously intriguing The Bride Wore Scarlet, Carlyle does historical romance absolutely right—as a determined young beauty’s desire to gain entrance into the secret all-male society places her under the powerfully sensuous spell of the group’s ruthless and enigmatic leader. Fans of Amanda Quick and Gaelen Foley are going to love this Bride!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Carlyle continues the Fraternitas paranormal Victorian trilogy (after One Touch of Scandal) with sizzling passion and romance. Anaïs de Rohan has spent much of her life training, hoping to join the male-only Fraternitas. The earl of Bessett reluctantly allows her to accompany him on a mission to Brussels where they must pose as husband and wife in order to rescue a young child who has the ability to see into the future. The pretense leads to real attraction that Bessett and Anaïs find impossible to ignore, and they also connect on a much deeper level. Bessett admires Anaïs's skill with a sword as well as her quick wit and intelligence, and Anaïs admires Bessett's compassion and caring despite his occasional dictatorial moments. Readers will eagerly look forward to the stunning conclusion as well as the next installment in this well-crafted series. (Aug.)
"Carlyle’s lusciously rich characterization, inventive plot spiked with danger and unexpected twists, and deliciously dry sense of humor make The Bride Wore Scarlet a near-perfect read."
Karen Robards
Liz Carlyle weaves passion and intrigue with a master’s touch.
Stephanie Laurens
“Intriguing...engaging...an illicit delight.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Carlyle’s lusciously rich characterization, inventive plot spiked with danger and unexpected twists, and deliciously dry sense of humor make The Bride Wore Scarlet a near-perfect read.”
“Carlyle delivers a fast-paced pleasure.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
MacLachlan Family & Friends , #6
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Read an Excerpt

The Bride Wore Scarlet

By Liz Carlyle


Copyright © 2011 Liz Carlyle
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061965760

Chapter One

"It is only the enlightened ruler
and the wise general who will
use the highest intelligence of the army
for the purposes of spying."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Night lay over Wapping, nearly silent, the sky
wisped with a fog that twined like languid cats
about the bare masts of the ships at anchor in the Pool of
London. Despite the hour, the rhythmic slush-shush-slush of
a receding tide was unmistakable as it washed over mud and
gravel, the sliver of shore beneath as yet a mere speculation.
Atop the embankment, Lord Bessett ground the stub of a
cheroot beneath his boot heel, then flicked up the collar of
his greatcoat, a defense against the sharp, fetid breeze that
sliced off the Thames. The gesture cut the wind, but did
little to mitigate the stench of rot and raw effluent.
Thank God it was a chilly night.
The water slapped again, more violently, exposing for an
instant the last step, slick with green algae. Just then Bessett's
well-trained ear caught a sound. He jerked his gaze up,
scanning the Pool. There was nothing. Nothing save a few
distant shipboard lanterns, misty yellow smears bobbing
faintly with the tide, and the occasional spate of raucous
laughter carried across on the wind.
Then, silent as the grave, a waterman slid from the gloom,
cutting along the river's edge until his hull rumbled slightly
aground. A bony, tremulous finger pointed toward the stairs.
His passenger—a great hulk of a man in a long, dark cloak—
unfolded himself, tossed a few glittering coins into the air,
then leapt with a heavy thud onto the last step.
The waterman slid back into the gloom, silent as he had
come, looking rather as if he accounted himself fortunate
to escape.
His every sense alert, Bessett leaned over the embankment
and offered a hand as the visitor ascended into the pool
of yellow lamplight. He took it, stepping up onto the paved
surface with a grunt tinged with weariness.
Not a young man, then.
This assessment was proven accurate when the man turned
his face toward the lamp that swung from the Prospect's
river side balcony. His was a worn and weathered visage,
with small, hard eyes, and a nose that hung from his face
like a bulbous wad of sausage. To complete the disconcerting
picture, a scar slashed from his chin up through his mouth,
horribly twisting the bottom lip.
The waterman's consternation was understandable.
"Fine weather tonight, is it not?" Bessett said.
"Oui, but I hear it is raining in Marseilles." The voice was
like gravel, the accent thick and decidedly French.
Bessett felt the tension inside him relax but an increment.
The phrase was right, aye. But there could still be trouble—
and he never entirely trusted the French.
"I'm Bessett," he said simply. "Welcome to London."
The man laid a heavy palm across Bessett's right shoulder.
"May your arm, brother, be as the right hand of God,"
he said in flawless Latin. "And all your days given to the
Fraternitas, and to His service."
"And so may yours," Bessett answered in the same.
Sensing no animosity, Bessett eased his left hand from
his pocket, releasing the hilt of the dagger he'd instinctively
clutched. "So you are DuPont," he went on. "Your reputation,
sir, precedes you."
"My reputation was made long ago," said the Frenchman.
"In younger days."
"I trust your journey was without incident?"
"Oui, a swift, easy crossing." The visitor leaned into him.
"So, I have heard much of this new safe house you keep
here. Even we French cannot but admire your effort."
"It is a good deal more than a safe house, DuPont." Bessett
motioned him down the narrow passageway that linked
Pelican Stairs to Wapping High Street. "We are dedicated to
rebuilding this sect. We live practically out in the open, in
the guise of a sort of intellectual society."
The visitor snorted with Gallic disdain. "Bonne chance,
mon frère," he said, stepping out into the gaslight. "As you
know, we in France are not so bold—but then, we have good
Bessett smiled thinly. "I take your point, DuPont. One
begins to wonder if the political upheaval in France will
ever end."
The Frenchman lifted one thick shoulder. "Non, not in my
lifetime," he answered evenly. "And all your fine efforts here
in London will never change that fact."
"Aye, sadly, you may be right," said Bessett. "As to the
house—the St. James Society, it is called—any brother of
the Fraternitas Aureae Crucis who passes through England
is welcome to quarter with us—even those who do not s
support the unification."
"Merci, but I must not linger." The Frenchman rolled his
shoulders uneasily. "So, my new Fraternitas brother, do we
walk? Have you a carriage?"
Bessett jerked his head toward the public house adjacent.
"The Society has come to you, DuPont. They wait within."
Just then, the Prospect's door flew open and a pair of
garishly dressed nightingales burst out, laughing, a hapless
young naval lieutenant hooked arm-in-arm between them.
He looked wealthy, besotted, and thoroughly foxed—the
prostitute's holy trinity.
The Frenchman watched them go assessingly, then gave
his disdainful grunt again. "Ah, mon frère, life is the same
the world over, non?"
"Aye, he'll be pissing pain till All Saints' Day with that
pair," Bessett muttered. "Come, DuPont. The brandy here at
the Prospect is passable, and the fire is warm."
Inside, the front taproom of the public house was abuzz,
with every scarred and beaten table surrounded by men of
the dockyards, with tavern maids swishing and weaving
between them, trays and tankards hefted gracefully aloft.
Lightermen, shipwrights, sailors of every nationality—even
the occasional shipping magnate—all of them came, eventually,
to the Prospect, where a hot meal and a fairly pulled
pint might be had in companionable good spirits.
Bessett waded through the human morass, the man called
DuPont on his heels, and made his way round the bar and
into a quieter room where the tables sat along a row of small
paned windows overlooking the Pool.
His three colleagues rose at once, shaking DuPont's
hand with outward welcome. But Bessett knew them well,
could see the tautness in every move of their muscles and
sense—in an ordinary, human way—the age-old wariness
each exuded. Even if DuPont was Fraternitas, he came as
an agent of the Gallic Confederation, a stubborn and secretive
"Welcome to England, monsieur." Their Preost, the
Reverend Mr. Sutherland, motioned toward the empty chair. "A
pleasure to meet one of our brethren across the water. My
associates, Ruthveyn and Lazonby." Handshakes were
exchanged, then Ruthveyn snapped his fingers at one of the
girls, sending her scurrying for a bottle of brandy.
"So, DuPont, I hear from my Catholic compatriots in
Paris that trouble is afoot," Sutherland began once the bottle
and glasses had been situated. "Is that what brings you?"
DuPont sipped at his brandy, his scarred mouth twisting
even further at the taste. He set it down at once. "Oui, a child
has fallen into the wrong hands," he said. "We require your
"A child?" Ruthveyn's dark visage hardened. "A Gift, you
The Frenchman scrubbed his hand round what looked
like a day's growth of stubble. "It seems so," he admitted.
"Though the child is young—not yet nine years of age—the
circumstances are . . . troubling."
"Troubling how?" Lord Lazonby, an inelegant, broad
shouldered man, had thrown himself casually back into his
chair, set his booted legs wide, and was absently turning his
glass round and round on the scarred oak table. "Can the
Guardians of Paris not keep up with their charges?"
DuPont bristled. "Ours is a nation in turmoil, you may
recall," he snapped. "Our King now resides here—in utter
exile—and even in these modern times, we can barely keep
the rabble from rolling out Madame la Guillotine again.
No, my Lord Lazonby. We cannot always keep up with our
charges. Indeed, we often fear for our heads."
Ruthveyn planted his dark, long-fingered hands wide on
the table. "Enough," he commanded. "Let us be civil. Tell
us, DuPont, what has happened. And be quick about it. We
mightn't have much time."
"Aye, you are to be married, old boy, in a few days' time,"
said Lazonby dryly, entirely unperturbed by the scold. "And
home to Calcutta thereafter. I believe Bessett and I can guess
who will be charged with this task."
"Precisely." Ruthveyn's voice was tight. "Now, what is the
name of this child, and how strong is your certainty of the
"The child is called Giselle Moreau. About the other, we
are certain enough to fear for her. The Gift is strong in the
father's blood. Her mother, Charlotte, is English."
"English?" said Ruthveyn sharply. "Who are her people?"
"Impoverished gentry near Colchester," said the Frenchman.
"They found enough money to send her to school in
Paris and she thanked them by falling in love with a lowly
clerk in the royal household—a bastard nephew of the
Vicomte de Lezennes. She has had little contact with her
family since."
"They disowned her?"
"Oui, so it appears so."
"Lezennes?" Lord Bessett exchanged uneasy glances
with Mr. Sutherland. "I've heard the name. He's often found
near the center of court intrigue, isn't he?"
DuPont nodded. "Always near, oui, but never close enough
to be blamed," he said bitterly. "He is a clever devil, our
Lezennes. He has survived the fall of Louis-Philippe, and now
endeared himself to the Bonapartists—even as it is whispered
that he is in truth nothing but a Legitimist, secretly
seeking to restore the Ancient Régime."
"What do you think?" Bessett demanded.
The Frenchman shrugged. "I think he is a cockroach, and
cockroaches always survive. His politics scarcely matter to
me. But he has taken this Englishwoman under his wing in
order to use her child, and that matters to me very much.
And now he has removed them to Brussels, where he serves
as an emissary to the court of King Leopold."
Bessett's hands fisted involuntarily. "From one political
uncertainty to another," he murmured. "I cannot like the
sound of this. This is the very thing we wished to avoid,
DuPont, with the Fraternitas's unification."
"I understand, but this is France we are talking about,"
said DuPont calmly. "No one trusts anyone. The Fraternitas
in Paris—such as we still exist—is uneasy. Lezennes is not
known for his charitable nature. If he has taken this child,
it is for a purpose—his own purpose, and a bad one. That is
why they have sent me. You must get the child back."
"Of course we wish to help," said Sutherland gently. "But
why us?"
"As I said, the mother is English," said DuPont. "Your
Queen wishes her subjects abroad to be protected, does she
not? You have some rights in this, I think."
"I . . . don't know," said Ruthveyn warily.
The Frenchman crooked a brow arrogantly. "You are not
unknown to us, Lord Ruthveyn," he said. "Nor is your work
in Hindustan. You have your Queen's ear, and your Queen's
favor. The King of the Belgians is her beloved uncle. You
have influence. Would you truly punish the Gallic Confederation
merely because we keep to ourselves, when all we
ask is that you use your influence to save our Gift from being
raised by a devil? From being used for nefarious purposes?"
"Of course not." Ruthveyn's voice was tight. "None of us
wants that."
"But what of this woman's husband?" Bessett demanded.
DuPont pressed his misshapen lips together for a moment.
"Moreau is dead," he finally answered. "Killed but a fortnight
after the King's abdication. He was summoned late

16 Liz Carlyle
one night to his office near the palace—by whom, we are
not sure—but somehow, the draperies caught fire. A terrible
tragedy. And no one believes it was an accident."
Lord Ruthveyn's expression stiffened. "The dead man—
he was a Guardian?"
"Oui." The word was but a whisper. "A man of little Gift,
but of good heart and much bravery. He has been sorely
missed amongst our number these many months."
"He was close to his uncle?"
DuPont's bitter smile deepened. "Scarcely even acknowledged,"
he said, "until rumor of little Giselle's talent began
to stir through the court."
"Good God, she was discovered?" said Bessett.
The Frenchman sighed deeply. "What is your English
expression?" he murmured. "Out of the mouths of babes?
Little Giselle predicted Louis-Philippe's abdication—
blurted it out very innocently, but alas, very publicly—in
front of half his courtiers."
"Oh, dear." Mr. Sutherland's head fell into his hands.
"How could such a thing happen?"
"A court picnic at the Grand Parc," said the Frenchman.
"All the royal household and their families were invited—
commanded, really. The King, of course, came out for a few
moments of noblesse oblige with the masses. Regrettably,
he ran straight into Madame Moreau, and decided to catch
Giselle's chin in his hand. He looked her straight into the
eyes, and would not look away."
Bessett and Ruthveyn groaned in unison.
"It gets worse," said DuPont, the truth spilling from him
now. "He asked why her eyes were so sad on such a lovely
day. When she did not reply, he teased her by saying he
commanded her as King to speak. So little Giselle took him
literally, and foretold not only the fall of the July Monarchy,
but went on to say that his abdication would be followed by
a second terrible loss—the death of his daughter, Louise-
"Good God, the Queen of the Belgians?"
"Aye, and that was Louis-Philippe's doing, too, 'tis whispered,"
DuPont continued. "He wished his daughter to be
made Leopold's queen in exchange for France's acceptance
of Belgian independence."
"I thought that was just a rumor," Ruthveyn remarked.
"Eh, perhaps." The Frenchman opened both hands
expressively. "But the French army stood down, Leopold's
morganatic wife was cast aside, and Louise-Marie was
ensconced on Belgium's throne. But now 'tis said the Queen
grows weaker by the day."
"So the child's prediction is again coming true," Bessett
"Consumption, it is whispered," said DuPont. "The Queen
will not likely last the year, and already the King's mistress
is wielding some influence."
But a sense of ice-cold dread was already creeping over
Bessett. This was the very thing Guardians of the Fraternitas
most feared: the exploitation of the weakest amongst
the Vateis—their ancient sect of seers—most of whom were
women and children.


Excerpted from The Bride Wore Scarlet by Liz Carlyle Copyright © 2011 by Liz Carlyle. Excerpted by permission of Avon. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Stephanie Laurens
“Intriguing...engaging...an illicit delight.”
Karen Robards
Liz Carlyle weaves passion and intrigue with a master’s touch.

Meet the Author

A lifelong Anglophile, Liz Carlyle cut her teeth reading gothic novels under the bedcovers by flashlight. She is the author of over twenty historical romances, including several New York Times bestsellers. Liz travels incessantly, ever in search of the perfect setting for her next book. Along with her genuine romance-hero husband and four very fine felines, she makes her home in North Carolina.

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The Bride Wore Scarlet 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
The_Reading_Reviewer More than 1 year ago
When you have a "gift" that no one understands you might want to pretend it does not exist. For Anaïs de Rohan she embraces it and wants to make her Nonna proud of her. She learns the tricks of the trade that would gain her access to the all-male club known as The St. James Society where she could converse among others gifted as she is. This group being the men that they are decides not to be interested in extending her a club membership but they do have another function she can give them. They have Lord Geoffrey Bessett to be her husband and have them as a couple protect a child with a greater gift than any have ever seen. The darkness that surrounds her is strong and someone is trying very hard to take control of it for nefarious plots against King and country. The plan was uncomplicated and would have gone off smoothly but with Anaïs there is no way that is going to happen. She will pretend to be Geoff's bride but she is going to run the show her way and when her decision is made that he may be more than just a pretend groom no one is more surprised than she to find that passion does indeed run through her veins not just an urge for adventure. Both of them believe in fate and that a greater power is controlling their destiny but what if just this once Geoff and Anaïs make their own decisions. So much of their lives has been about the right path and hiding their "gift" but with each other they can just be themselves knowing the other will love them warts and all. It would have gone off as an uncomplicated feat if not for the evil that is living across the street and the job they are supposed to be doing and really trying to handle if they can just stop handling each other. This book is complicated, detailed, and just fabulous so do not blink or you will miss something important. It challenges you to not only pay attention to every twist and turn but makes sure you find yourself completely fascinated with the intricacy of the storyline and the characters.
TheStephanieLoves More than 1 year ago
The Bride Wore Scarlet by Liz Carlyle Release Date: July 26th, 2011 Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins) Page Count: 375 Source: ARC from Carolyn at Romance Novel News Passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant façade of Victorian London in another deliciously intriguing novel featuring the mysterious men of the St. James Society. Anaïs de Rohan has faced danger in her past, but never anything so great as posing as the new bride to one of the St. James Society's most magnetic -- and ruthless -- leaders. But Lord Bessett's bold challenge to prove herself worthy of joining his secret all-male society is impossible to resist. So she daringly agrees to travel with the enigmatic nobleman on a dangerous mission to save one of their own -- a little girl with a frightening gift. Soon intrigue swirls about them, drawing them ever closer. And Anaïs quickly realizes that the intimacy of sharing Lord Bessett's bedroom is proving a temptation impossible to resist. As for Bessett himself -- well, he might be a soldier sworn to the Society, but he certainly isn't anyone's saint... What Stephanie Thinks: This regency novel with a paranormal twist brims with witty and sexy character banter I love. The romance isn't routine, and has me rooting for it to continue, while the characters are full of life and personality. For some odd reason, however, I couldn't get into it. The storyline is frustratingly complicated and the prose is elaborate. Carlyle may be an advanced writer, but she doesn't have a way with words; it's really difficult to follow much of the plot. I found myself trudging through a lot of the excess text, and even snoozing at some points. The story itself sounded really great: Anaïs de Rohan uses her inherited gift and utilizes Lord Bessett's special gift to help a woman in dangerous peril, as well as her small daughter who possesses a power greater than one has ever known. But it is written in a way that I just don't find interesting. At least the sex scenes are hot. The relationship between Anaïs and Geoff Bessett, however, ends up exactly the way I imagined, so there isn't anything new to it. It's really sweet how Anaïs confides in him that she is waiting for her Mr. Right, and in the end, he turns out to be her Mr. Right, though. Romances as timeless as theirs makes my heart sigh. I really, really wanted to like this book. The characters are strong and the romance steaming. But the biggest problem is that I didn't -- and I still don't -- know what the main conflict of the novel was. And I'm not too enthusiastic about rereading to find out; it's not worth the trouble. I am able to make out a basic storyline (as one thing this story doesn't lack, is detail), but as a whole, the entire concept of the Fraternitas society -- which is the secret coven Anaïs attempts to join -- confuses me. Therefore, I don't recommend this book at all; books like these are ones that strengthen my disfavor towards historical romances. The one thing I can't take my mind off is how The Bride Wore Scarlet (a scarlet dress isn't even mentioned in the book...?) aptly inspires every girl that sometimes, your prince won't arrive into your life promptly on his noble steed; sometimes, your prince was there for you all along.
AAR More than 1 year ago
THE BRIDE WORE SCARLET by Liz Carlyle is an exciting historical romance set in 1837 London.It is written with depth and details.The characters will capture your heart.It has romance,sweet sensuality, secrets,love,some magic,passion,mystery,the mysterious men of the St. James Society,and a dangerous mission to save a little girl whose has a frightening gift.Two unlikely people meet,are attracted,thrown together trying to save a little girl and her mother. Anais de Rohan and Lord Bessett must not only face danger at every turn but also pose as a newly married couple.Both have a special gift.Both are attracted to each other.Soon intrigue and danger will draw them closer together. This is a fast paced story full of adventure,intrigue,suspense,love and romance with a little magic in the fix. A great read. This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher.Details can be found at Avon,an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers and My Book Addiction Reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though I enjoyed the story, it took me a while to connect with its characters. Parts of the story dragged a bit, but overall, after the pace picked up, the story was intriguing & adventurous. I especially enjoyed the heroine's daring skills!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shortstride More than 1 year ago
Very disappointing. I couldn't wait to read this book since we were introduced to Geoff in an earlier book but it was a real downer. I just knew there was a lot that Liz Carlyle would do with the son of Merrick and the nephew of that rascal Alesdair but she didn't Geoff was rather boring and I can't believe the vivacious Anais fell in love with him. was so looking forward to hearing an update on Merrick but nothing. If was so boring, I turned page after page, after page. It took the longest to get little Giselle from that "evil" uncle but I really didn't think the uncle was very scary or the situation. There is a third on in this trilogy but I don't care to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the main characters in this story.
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I usually like this author. She balances good stories and romance. This one didn't keep my interest. I found myself just skimming pages toward the end. Wouldn't recommend.
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LiciaSilverpen More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the plot of the book and how the heroine was determined to be part of the St. James Society even though she was not a man.
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streetmouse More than 1 year ago
Liz Carlyle never fails to deliver a super entertaining read, and she certainly didn't disappoint here. I always love her unconventional heroines and the sense of adventure she weaves into the plot. Great, fun read that will keep you turning the pages!
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