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Carlyle, Liz 1958- (S.T. Woodhouse, Susan T. Woodhouse)

Carlyle, Liz 1958- (S.T. Woodhouse, Susan T. Woodhouse)

PERSONAL:

Born August 7, 1958, in Suffolk, VA; married; stepchildren: two. Education: Radford University, B.S., 1980. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Episcopalian.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—Nancy Yost, Lowenstein-Yost Associates, 121 W. 27th St., Ste. 601, New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer; previously worked in the chemical industry.

WRITINGS:

ROMANCE FICTION

My False Heart, Sonnet Books (New York, NY), 1999.

A Woman Scorned, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.

A Woman of Virtue ("Lorimer Family" series, sequel to A Woman Scorned), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(With Cathy Maxwell) Tea for Two: Two Novellas (contains Carlyle's novella Hunting Season), Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2002.

A Deal with the Devil ("Lorimer Family" series, sequel to The Devil You Know ["Rutledge Family" series]), Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Sabrina Jeffries, Julia London, and Renee Bernard) The School for Heiresses (novella), Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2006.

ROMANCE FICTION; "RUTLEDGE FAMILY" SERIES

Beauty like the Night, Sonnet Books (New York, NY), 2000.

No True Gentleman, series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2002.

The Devil You Know, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2003.

ROMANCE FICTION; "MACLACHLAN FAMILY" SERIES

The Devil to Pay, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2005.

One Little Sin, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Two Little Lies, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Three Little Secrets, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2006.

ROMANCE FICTION; "NEVILLE FAMILY" SERIES

Never Lie to a Lady, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Never Deceive a Duke, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Never Romance a Rake, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor of novella Let's Talk about Sex to Big Guns out of Uniform, Pocket Books, 2003, and novella Much Ado about Twelfth Night to The One that Got Away, Avon/HarperCollins, 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:

Liz Carlyle, the pen name of Susan T. Woodhouse, is the author of historical romances that have received wide praise from critics who have admired her skill at characterization, setting, and original plotting. Carlyle worked in the corporate world for about eighteen years before writing her first novel, My False Heart, on a dare while she was between jobs. After a few years during which Carlyle struggled to find a publisher, the book was published in 1999 and hailed by romance novel reviewers as a promising debut. While keeping to many of the conventions of the romance genre, the book, asserted Romance Reader contributor Lesley Dunlap, varies from the norm: "Countless romances have featured the classic plot of the degenerate rake who sees the error of his ways, reforms, and finds a lasting and true love with a good woman. Rarely, however, does the author provide much support for this personality change. Where … Carlyle's book excels is in the how and why."

My False Heart features Elliot Armstrong, whose fiancée's unfaithful behavior leads to a broken engagement and his descent into a life of debauchery. His new love interest, Evangeline Stone, is a young artist who welcomes him into her home one stormy night, thinking that he is someone else. Elliot quickly becomes enamored by the beautiful Evangeline and does not reveal his true identity until a former mistress, who is also Evangeline's aunt, reveals Elliot's past. Although Dunlap deemed the mystery subplot involving Elliot's ex-fiancée to be somewhat contrived, she found the love story convincing and entertaining.

Another Romance Reader reviewer, Jean Mason, was equally impressed with Carlyle's follow-up novel, A Woman Scorned. After Jonet Rowland's philandering husband is murdered, her brother-in-law, Lord James Rowland, is convinced that she is the killer, but he cannot prove it. He develops a ploy to hire his nephew Captain Cole Amherst, a former scholar who was injured in battle and widowed while stationed in Portugal, to serve as tutor to Jonet's two children and as his spy. Cole soon realizes that there are more secrets in the household than anyone suspected. In addition, Jonet and Cole are mutually attracted to, but do not trust each other. Mason found the interweaving of mystery and romance to be effectively handled, concluding that "Carlyle's first book was very, very good. Her second is as good, or maybe even better."

A Woman of Virtue, the sequel to A Woman Scorned, is the first book in the "Lorimer Family" series. The book includes previous characters Jonet and Cole in important roles. However, the main story features another tortured hero named David, whose illegitimate birth proves an impediment to his desire for Lady Cecilia Markham-Sands. With a number of murders, a scandalous rape, and a forced marriage, there are plenty of plot complications in A Woman of Virtue. Although Dunlap, in another review for Romance Reader, found some of Cecilia's motivations less-than-satisfactorily explained, she complimented Carlyle on writing a historical romance that features not only upper-class characters but also glimpses into English lower-class society. "David and Cecilia get to experience a vastly different segment of society," Dunlap commented, "and that makes for a more interesting story."

One of the minor characters in A Woman of Virtue is Constable Max de Rohan. Max is the main character in No True Gentleman, the second book in the "Rutledge Family" series, which focuses on his forbidden love for Lady Catherine Wodeway, who is far above him in social status. In a tale that Library Journal contributor Kristin Ramsdell postulated "will appeal to readers who like their mysteries with a little romance rather than the other way around," No True Gentleman is a Regency-era story with Max investigating an aristocrat's death. Carlyle juggles several plots, including Max's search for the killer, his relationship with Catherine, and his troubles with his meddling grandmother in what a Publishers Weekly reviewer called "one of the year's best historical romances."

In The Devil You Know, the third book in the "Rutledge Family" series, Frederica d'Avillez is trying to forget a failed relationship when she meets the roguish Randolph Rutledge. One night of love leaves Frederica pregnant; Randolph convinces her to marry him, but Frederica soon learns that she will only find happiness in her new marriage if she is able to uncover Randolph's secrets. A Deal with the Devil, the sequel to The Devil You Know, is the second book in the "Lorimer Family" series. The book begins as Aubrey Montford is hired by Major Lorimer to help him restore his castle, but when Lorimer is murdered, his nephew comes to the castle to investigate and soon finds himself drawn to the mysterious Aubrey. Noting that "there's far more romance here than suspense," a Publishers Weekly critic stated that "Regency fans … will be charmed." Booklist contributor John Charles even more enthusiastically called the novel "nothing short of brilliant."

The Devil to Pay is the first book in the "MacLachlan Family" series. In the second book in the series, One Little Sin, readers are introduced to Alasdair MacLachlan. Alasdair has always been a bold and rowdy young man, but he finally meets his match in the form of Esmee Hamilton, a young Scottish woman who appears on his doorstep in the middle of the night with a baby, declaring that he is the child's father. Alasdair declares her insane, but Esmee is not to be put off, and as she provides him with further details of her story, he is forced to admit that there might possibly be an ounce of truth to her tale. Esmee and her child, Sorcha, were turned out of her home by her stepfather the moment her mother died, and the brutal act forced her to face reality. With no home, she went to London, England, to confront Alasdair and force him to admit to one of his many sins, of which she is positive he is guilty. Alasdair takes both Esmee and Sorcha into his home, unsure of their true place in his life, but somehow unable to turn them away. Gradually, Alasdair becomes fond of Esmee and Sorcha, and together the trio forms a new family. John Charles, writing for Booklist, praised the book for its "deliciously clever dialogue, superbly nuanced characters, gracefully witty writing, and sizzling sexual tension."

Carlyle's next book in the "MacLachlan Family" series, Two Little Lies, features the handsome Quin, Earl of Wynwood, and the beautiful Italian opera singer Viviana Alessandri. The two have a brief affair then go their separate ways, though Viviana briefly suggests they might marry. Nine years later, the pair crosses paths once more. Now, Viviana is a widow and the mother of three, while Quin is preparing to marry an appropriate bride. Their tempers flare, and they find themselves drawn to each other once more. A combination of events bring them closer together, and Quin eventually learns that he is actually the father of Viviana's eldest child. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated that "with effective, emotional writing and a complex heroine, Carlyle's story stands out in the crowded field of Regency-era romances."

With Three Little Secrets, the fourth book in the "MacLachlan Family" series, Carlyle focuses on Merrick MacLachlan. Similar in plot structure to the previous books in this series, in Three Little Secrets, Merrick reunites with his old flame, Lady Madeleine Bessett, at a chance meeting in London. Readers learn of the pair's past relationship in the form of flashbacks. Merrick and Madeleine continue to avoid each other for the majority of the book, yet clearly yearn for each other. Ultimately, after the revelation that Merrick is the father of Madeleine's child, their union is practically guaranteed. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated that Carlyle's effort "lacks the complexity of plot and character that made her earlier romances shine." However, Charles, in another review for Booklist, found it to be "a dark, deliciously sensual, richly emotional story of two people who are given another chance at love."

Carlyle begins the "Neville Family" series with Never Lie to a Lady. The book features Xanthia Neville, a young woman who capably runs the family shipping business but is unable to figure out how to handle herself in society. This fact is brought home for her when she receives attention—and a kiss—from a handsome man at a gathering in London one evening, only to discover he is Stefan Northampton, the Marquess of Nash, a notorious rake and gambler. Drawn to him despite her wariness, she must investigate him in greater depth when the government requests her assistance in determining his involvement in a gun-smuggling ring. Under the cover of her business, Xanthia begins to look into Stefan's own interests, but she finds herself falling for him. Charles, in a another review for Booklist, stated that "Carlyle cleverly fashions another of her fabulously rich confections certain to captivate readers."

Never Deceive a Duke, the second book in the "Neville Family" series, begins when Gareth Lloyd, one of the owners of Neville shipping, inherits the title of the Duke of Warneham through an odd twist of fate. He is somewhat resentful of the circumstances as the title brings bad memories with it; when he was just a child, Gareth was sentenced by the duke to a shipboard life. However, Gareth understands his new responsibilities. With a certain amount of reluctance, he travels to his new estate, Selsdon Court. Upon his arrival, Gareth learns that Antonia, the former duke's widow, is still in residence and is naturally mourning her late husband. When the two feel a spark of chemistry between them, they begin to confide in one another—Antonia regarding the death of her daughter, and Gareth regarding the anti-Semitic sentiments he has encountered in society. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that Carlyle's "attention to historical detail and fully formed characters make her world spring to life, and her plot never flags."

Although not all of Carlyle's books have received such praise—the love story in Beauty like the Night, for instance, was deemed "predictable" by Mason in a Romance Reader review—the author's work has generally been found by critics to be more advanced than the average romance offerings. Nevertheless, Carlyle still describes herself as a struggling author. She is content, though, to continue following her current path, staying at home, writing, and occasionally traveling with her husband to England. "I truly enjoy what I'm doing," she told an interviewer for the Road to Romance Web site, "and I love working for [my publisher] Pocket [Books]. They have given me [a lot] of latitude in terms of what I write, and they [have] been willing to take some risks." She added, "As you know, my novels are a little on the long side, and while they are very definitely Regency-era romances, they are quite sexually explicit and contain some darker elements…. So, while my books are not for everyone, I hope I'm filling a special niche for those historical romance fans who like a plot that's a little more intense."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2002, John Charles, review of No True Gentleman, p. 1693; September 15, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of No True Gentleman, p. 216; April 1, 2003, John Charles, review of The Devil You Know, p. 1383; March 1, 2004, John Charles, review of A Deal with the Devil, p. 1144; September 15, 2005, John Charles, review of OneLittle Sin, p. 41; April 1, 2006, John Charles, review of Three Little Secrets, p. 25; August 1, 2007, John Charles, review of Never Lie to a Lady, p. 52.

Library Journal, May 15, 2002, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Tea for Two: Two Novellas, p. 79; August, 2002, Kristin Ramsdell, review of No True Gentleman, p. 70.

Publishers Weekly, April 24, 2000, review of A Woman Scorned, p. 67; April 8, 2002, review of Tea for Two, p. 211; June 3, 2002, review of No True Gentleman, p. 71; January 19, 2004, review of A Deal with the Devil, p. 59; November 28, 2005, review of Two Little Lies, p. 29; February 27, 2006, review of Three Little Secrets, p. 39; June 18, 2007, review of Never Deceive a Duke, p. 41.

ONLINE

All about Romance,http://www.likesbooks.com/ (December 3, 2002), Ellen D. Micheletti, review of Beauty like the Night and A Woman of Virtue.

BookBrowser.com,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (August 15, 1999), Harriet Klausner, review of My False Heart; (November 14, 2000), Harriet Klausner, review of Beauty like the Night; (December 27, 2000), Harriet Klausner, review of A Woman of Virtue; (June 8, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of No True Gentleman.

Liz Carlyle Home Page,http://www.lizcarlyle.com (July 13, 2004).

Road to Romance,http://www.roadtoromance.ca/ (December 3, 2002), author interview.

Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (November 1, 1999), Lesley Dunlap, review of My False Heart; (May 7, 2000), Jean Mason, review of A Woman Scorned; (November 27, 2000), Jean Mason, review of Beauty like the Night; (March 20, 2001), Lesley Dunlap, review of A Woman of Virtue.

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