Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt


The Maiden Lane series by Elizabeth Hoyt is my favorite historical romance series at the moment. The three previous books have all been winners for me because of the absolutely wonderful atmosphere created by Hoyt and the memorable characters that have populated all the stories so far. Thief of Shadows, the fourth installment of this series, is no exception.

With Thief of Shadows, Hoyt continues the series by returning to the Makepeace family and the all important home for foundling children the family manages in St. Giles. This time the focus of the romance is the orphanage's headmaster, Winter Makepeace. The story begins exactly where Scandalous Desires ends as Lady Isabel Bekinhall on her way to meet with headmaster Winter Makepeace finds a wounded Ghost with a mob about to finish him off. She quickly rescues the Ghost and takes him home with the intention of helping him, but thinking that she might finally find out who he is. This one action changes Isabel and Winter's lives as their different worlds, and secrets, are about to collide.

There are two threads running alongside the romance in Thief of Shadows. One of the patronesses decides that now that aristocratic ladies are financing the home for foundling children there is a need for a more sophisticated headmaster and that Winter should be replaced. The ladies who disagree appoint Isabel as Winter's tutor in social graces, including dance, demeanor and conversations that he might encounter in social function attended by the aristocracy. Soon, Isabel yearns to tutor Winter in more than social graces and they move on to a game where sensuality and sexual tension take precedence over sophisticated, superficial conversation. This particular thread serves to drive the romance by allowing Winter and Isabel to meet often, furthering their acquaintance and establishing intimacy.

In the other thread the Ghost of Giles is investigating the disappearance of little orphan girls in St. Giles. The more he investigates, however, the more danger he encounters, particularly since his investigations take him right to the aristocracy's front door. Unfortunately this means that as the story progresses, so does the danger for Winter and Isabel. Hoyt blends both of these threads so well that they become an inseparable part of the romance.

Talking about the romance, in Thief of Shadows Hoyt again goes for the role reversal. In Notorious Pleasures, Hoyt successfully portrayed a virginal heroine who pursued a sexual affair while the hero, the cynical seducer, fell hopelessly in love. However in Thief of Shadows, Hoyt goes further by making a widowed and older Isabel the sexually experienced seducer interested in an affair, and Winter the virginal, reluctant hero who will only give of himself sexually if or when love and commitment are involved. Hoyt not only makes this role reversal work, but in the process she makes the sexual tension, and the progressive sensuality between Winter and Isabel a hot and steamy experience for the reader.

Characterization is also important in this story. Winter is a character that has been developed slowly over four books. In Thief of Shadows that development gains depth so that the reader understands what motivates his actions, and that includes Winter's personal, intimate decisions regarding Isabel, his love and protectiveness for the children under his care at the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, and what drives the darker side of his personality.

When it comes to Isabel, there is character growth within this story. Initially, there is a certain superficiality to her personality and her motivations that I found troubling, but as the story progresses Isabel is revealed as a woman who goes after what she wants until she gets it, strong and single minded, but not without vulnerabilities so that by the end of the story there certainly is depth to her character.

So what else can I say about this book? Thief of Shadows is a steamy romance with a hot, tender, caring, brave hero and a sexy heroine, brimming with atmosphere, wonderful sword play action, and interesting secondary characters that contribute to the story without taking the focus away from the main couple or the romance. Did I love it? Absolutely. Now the long wait begins for the next book of the series, Lord of Darkness!

Category: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane
Publisher/Release Date: Grand Central Publishing/June 26, 2012
Grade: A-

Visit Elizabeth Hoyt here.

Series:
Wicked Intentions, #1
Notorious Pleasures, #2
Scandalous Desires, #3
Thief of Shadows, #4
Lord of Darknes, #5 (Releasing February 2013) 

6 comments:

  1. Interesting. I haven't connected with this series like I did with Hoyt's previous, so I'm pretty sure I'll be skipping this one but I'm glad Winter turned out to be a worthy hero :D

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    1. Alex, I've noticed about this series that readers either love it or don't connect at all, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground. It's really interesting. Sorry it didn't work for you. But yes, this book definitely worked for me! Winter turned out to be wonderful. :D

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  2. I just love this series! Totally agree on how Hoyt makes the role reversal work so well. I love how she makes her heroines powerful without making them anachronistic.

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    1. Leslie, yes! No duds in the series so far for me either. :D The role reversal worked! Not only are her heroines not anachronistic, but in this instance I love that although Winter is the virgin hero, he's not too "missish" or too aggressive about it either. His role is also handled just right.

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  3. Yay, Winter finally got his book! Glad that you enjoyed it. So, I'm wondering... do we know the identity of the Ghost?

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    1. Yes! I really enjoyed it Nath. :)

      And yes, the identity of the Ghost is revealed in this book... and there's a bit of a surprise in it about this at the end of the book too! It was great because it kind of answered one question that niggled at me from that first book, Wicked Intentions. LOL! I'm not telling because it is a huge spoiler... :D

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