Review: The Lie and the Lady by Kate Noble

Mass Market: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release Date: December 29, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Winner Takes All #2
John Turner was thinking only of winning a bet when he swapped identities with his friend, the Earl of Ashby. He didn’t wager on winning the fiery Countess of Churzy’s heart with his lies, or on falling for her in return.

Leticia, impoverished Countess of Churzy, was publicly humiliated when it came out that she had fallen for the man, not the master. She fled when she learned of his betrayal. But fate throws them together again, and some things are too intoxicating to be denied.

John is determined to regain her trust—and her love—this time as himself. Letty knows what choice she must make to survive, but if she turns her back on her dashing rogue – again – will she loose her chance at love forever?

Initial Reaction
Kate Noble has been on my list of to-read authors. I love the cover of The Lie and the Lady! Also, a second chance love story? I'm sold! 
I picked The Lie and the Lady up knowing it's the second book in the Winner Takes All series that started with The Game and the Governess, which I did not read. I don't think it's a requirement to read the first book because I was still able to enjoy Turner and Leticia's story but I feel I did lose a bit of the progression of their relationship and the full impact on why Leticia was so angry at Turner.

Okay, so the back story was that John Turner was Ned, the Earl of Ashby's secretary and friend. They had a wager and they switched places for two weeks while attending a house party. Turner played the earl and Ned the secretary. While in their roles, Ned ended up falling for a governess (The Game and the Governess) while Turner fell for Leticia, the beautiful widowed Countess of Churzy. When the wager was revealed, Leticia was humiliated and left Turner. Turner went after her and eventually caught up to her, but she's still very angry with him and rejected him. She eventually ended up in Paris and became engaged to Sir Barty, a rich older gentleman with a 19-year-old daughter. But when Sir Barty took her back to Lincolnshire Letty found herself face to face with Turner because it turned out his family owns the town's grain mill.

Main Characters
Neither Turner or Leticia were particularly likable, which was fine with me. I don't have to love the main characters to enjoy reading their story. I just have to understand their motivations behind their actions, which I did.

Letty made a bigger impression on me than Turner. I really enjoyed her character--she's different from other historical romance heroine in that she's very flawed, older than Turner, a widow, not a virgin, and she's unapologetically a fortune hunter. She wanted to find a rich husband to take care of her but after the humiliation with Turner, she had a hard time. She had to move from place to place all over England with not much success because the gossip always followed her until finally ended up in Paris where she redoubled her efforts in pursuing a husband. She eventually found her rich husband in Sir Barty and accepted his proposal.

Letty was basically a gold-digger and her personality will not endear her to some readers. But she really wasn't a bad person. She did mean well and cared for Sir Barty and his daughter Margaret--she wasn't planning to marry him and then turn around and spend all of his money and have affairs. She wanted to be a good, faithful wife to Barty. If it wasn't for Turner, I think she would've have and been content. I didn't even mind her mercenariness. In a way I kind of admired her, especially considering her history and thinking about women's position in society in those days.

As for Turner, I also enjoyed his character, but like I said, Letty made a bigger impression on me. He's a good guy--hardworking, smart, not a manwhore--but also had he was also flawed. He and Letty did have great chemistry, but don't expect much sexy times in this book--they had only one and it on the third to the last chapter. But like in Pride and Prejudice, the build up to that scene made it all the more special. I typically like my romance novels with a lot of steam, but I didn't mind the lack of smexy times in The Lie and the Lady because I was too busy enjoying everything else and the story simply didn't need the distraction of sex.
Okay, I do have to address the whole cheating thing. Letty was engaged to Sir Barty for almost the whole novel--The Lie and the Lady had 24 chapters and Letty and Sir Barty were engaged until the end of Chapter 21. Turner and Letty shared two passionate kisses while Letty was still engaged. I knew Letty and Turner were end game (obviously!) and there wasn't any strong feelings of love or anything sexual between Letty and Sir Barty, but it's still cheating. I am glad they didn't take it further than kissing, but I kinda felt bad for Sir Barty because he was so taken with Letty.

Pacing/Writing Style
Ms. Noble's style kind of reminds me a bit of Jane Austen and a bit of Meredith Duran. She penned an atypical romance novel with uniquely flawed characters and an engaging plot that didn't need the distraction of sex. I found the writing clever, witty, smart and with great humor--there were times when I even laugh out loud which was unusual when I'm reading a historical romance. The pacing of the story was appropriate for Letty and Turner's situation.

Final Thoughts
The Lie and the Lady was a different kind of historical romance novel. We don't get the typical hero and heroine in Turner and Leticia and I really appreciated that. I also enjoyed Ms. Noble's writing style. The plot included some intriguing social situations (Letty vs. the town's queen bee--I loved how Letty stood up to her), some twists and turns in the secondary mystery plot to keep things interesting, unique characters and great chemistry between them, and wondeful humor. This was my first read by Ms. Noble, but it won't be my last.

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