Friday, March 28, 2014

Renee's Reading: 2014-03-15 through 2014-03-21

I had a binge reading week last week. We had quite a bit of toddler-related chaos going on around here and I was tired and frustrated. I find binging on romance novels is about all I'm good for at times like that.

There may have also been binging on ice cream. I admit nothing.

*hides empty Ben & Jerry's pints in the bottom of the trash can*

Wicked Intentions, by Elizabeth Hoyt

Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows the area like the back of her hand--she cares for its children at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk. . .


Caire makes a simple offer--in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as a cold bargain soon falls prey to a passion neither can control--and may well destroy them both.

It took me a little while to get into this story. I don't know why. I guess the premise--Caire asking Temperance to guide him around St. Giles at night--just didn't seem plausible enough to grab me. A pretty big deal is made about how dangerous the area is, particularly at night, and neither character came off as quite desperate enough for late night jaunts through gin shops and brothels to sound like a reasonable idea.

That said, I stuck with it. The romance was good and the characters were both very well-written. Temperance dealing with her guilt and Lazarus his shame was fantastic, especially with the two of them playing off each other. I very much enjoyed watching them come to understand each other in the end.

The side characters were a mixed bag for me. I didn't find myself feeling much sympathy for Lady Caire, and the little flashes we got of Lady Hero were a bit meh. She seems like she could be funnier than she was, though that may be exactly what we were supposed to see.

Winter Makepeace sounds like he'll be someone fun to hear more about later; I love watching a good buttoned up character getting all twisted up. Plus I read the first chapter of his book as a preview in the back of the Princes Trilogy books last week and so I already know his big secret. That may have made him seem more interesting here than he was supposed to be, but that's the way it goes, I guess.

I have high hopes for the mystery brother, Asa, too. I sort of feel like a character who no one knows anything about that just sort of pops up for a few pages and then poofs away again pretty much has a big neon arrow hanging over their head in a series like this. LOOK HERE! FUTURE NOVEL AHEAD!

(It's always important to pay attention to the friends and siblings in a romance series, because, of course, you know those folks are almost always going to be starring in their own novels somewhere down the line.)

The mystery element of the story felt nicely paced. It kept the story moving forward without getting in the way of the romance, which, let's face it, is what we're here for. Speaking of the romance, as with all the Hoyt books I've read so far, this one had great steamy love scenes.

Even though the premise failed to really hook me in the beginning, I'm glad I picked it up. All in all, this was a nice afternoon read.

Notorious Pleasures, by Elizabeth Hoyt
Their lives were perfect. . .

Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn't bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother. . .

Until they met each other.

Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect--and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire--desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero's wedding nears, and Griffin's enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?

I think I have to give this book some kind of award for best romance meeting ever. I mean, seriously, it's not every romance novel that starts with the hero and heroine meeting while he's having casual sex with another woman.

And if there are other books that start that way, I'm guess most of the time the charming well-mannered young lady in question usually squeals or faints or comes over all outraged and probably doesn't take note of his great butt. (Or at least she tells herself she shouldn't have taken note.) Don't mind me; I'll just be over here giggling.

Anyway, great opening scene.

This is the second book in Hoyt's Maiden Lane series and, overall, it was a good book. Good characters, charming romance, hot sexy times. I feel like I keep giving the same review for every one of Hoyt's novels lately, but she's just that consistently good at what she does.

My only complaint is that it did seem a little. . . disconnected from the first book. The series is called Maiden Lane, which is the location of the orphanage, and Wicked Intentions was so very focused on St. Giles and the orphanage. The poor neighborhoods and criminal sides of London aren't something you usually get more than passing glimpses of in an average regency romance; it's usually all whirling ballrooms and elegant townhouses. I really liked that Hoyt didn't just go there but she made St. Giles the main set piece.

I was hoping for more of that in this novel, but most of Hero and Griffin's time together occurred in the more traditional aristocratic settings. Not that I really mind whirling ballrooms and elegant townhouses. They're lovely and I wouldn't read as much regency romance as I do if I didn't like that kind of thing. It just wasn't what I was expecting here.

Scandalous Desires, by Elizabeth Hoyt
Can a pirate learn. . .

River Pirate 'Charming' Mickey O'Connor has lifted himself from the depths of the slums to be the King of St. Giles. Anything he wants he gets--with one exception. Silence Hollingbrook has been haunting his dreams ever since she spent a single night in his bed.

That the only true treasure. . .

Once Silence was willing to sacrifice anything to save the man she loved. Now a widow, she's finally found peace when Charming Mickey comes storming back into her life with an offer she can't refuse. But this time she won't be the only one paying the price for his sins.

Lies in a woman's heart?

When his past comes back to torment him, Mickey must keep Silence safe from a merciless enemy, while wrestling with the delicious hold this widow has on his heart. And in the face of mounting danger, both will have to surrender to something even more terrifying. . . true love.

What a fantastic read! Hoyt definitely took the series up a notch with this one.

Silence and Mickey are such fantastic characters and they grow beautifully together over the course of the story. They complimented each other just perfectly. I loved that they broke up each other's illusions and reevaluated what they wanted out of life without ruining one another. They're both way too innocent about themselves for such jaded people, which was an internal conflict I found very intriguing.

We also got to go back to St. Giles with this addition to the series, which I very much enjoyed. The isolation of the characters could have made this book another disconnected entry in the series, at which point I'd have to really start wondering about the whole series idea here, but we got just enough interaction with the other characters to keep the overarching story grounded.

Thief of Shadows, by Elizabeth Hoyt

Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles--protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.


Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society--flirtation, double entendres, and scandalous liaisons--Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar--and his lips so tempting.


During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed. . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything--the Home, Isabel. . . and his life.


As I mentioned in my review of Wicked Intentions I started reading the Maiden Lane series because there were previews of this book in the back of all the Princes Trilogy books I read last week. I read the first chapter of this book then and was hooked. I can't help myself; I love the masked vigilante thing.

But, knowing my own compulsions as well as I do, I made myself read the first three books in the series first.

I'm so glad I did. As I mentioned in my reviews of the earlier books, I really liked the setting Hoyt created in St. Giles and the Ghost of St. Giles was a big part of that. So dashing, so mysterious, so much potential.*

And Hoyt nailed it. Winter Makepeace was just perfect. And Isabel was just perfect for him. I loved their dance around each other in the beginning. The sexual tension built beautifully and holy moly the love scenes were great. They were such a great blend of heat and heart. Virgin-hero is another one of my favorite tropes, so this books was like a two-for-one special for me. :-)

The action was really well done in this one as well. If you're going to write about a masked vigilante, you have to write about him out stalking the streets at night, doing his lonely crime fighting thing. Some romance writers can't pull that kind of thing off very well, but Hoyt isn't one of them. The fight scenes were great, the chase was exciting, and the mystery unfolded very well.

*Because I'd already read the first chapter of this book, I looked at all the Winter Makepeace scenes from the earlier books differently than I probably would have. I actually thought there was a mistake in the first book because of that, but Hoyt solved that problem neatly at the end of this one.

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Read anything else lately that you want to discuss?


  1. Renee, I have read all the Maiden Lane series up and including the latest book, Duke of Midnight, and enjoyed every one. I do have my favourites though...Scandalous Desires and Thief of Shadows. Charming Mickey and Winter Makepeace are definitely my favourite heroes of the books I've read. I love a bad-boy redeemed andl a virgin hero.

    1. Thief of Shadows is definitely a favorite for me. I was in love with Winter Makepeace from that first preivew I read a few weeks ago and his story did not disappoint. I finished the other two last week and I loved them as well. (Those reviews are coming up on Friday.) I cannot wait for the next book to come out this fall. :-)