Showing posts with label Elizabeth Hoyt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elizabeth Hoyt. Show all posts

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Review: Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Can a pirate learn that the only true treasure lies within a woman’s heart?

“Charming” Mickey O’Connor is the most ruthless river pirate in London. Devastatingly handsome and fearsomely intelligent, he clawed his way up through London’s criminal underworld. Mickey has no use for tender emotions like compassion and love, and he sees people as pawns to be manipulated. Yet he’s never been able to forget the naive captain’s wife who came to him a year ago for help—and spent one memorable night in his bed...talking.

Widowed Silence Hollingbrook is impoverished, lovely, and kind--and a year ago she made a horrible mistake. She went to a river pirate for help in saving her husband and in the process made a bargain that cost her her marriage. That night wounded her so terribly that she hides in the foundling home she helps run with her brother. Except now that same river pirate is back...and he’s asking for her help.
I loved Wicked Intentions and thoroughly enjoyed Notorious Pleasures, Books 1 & 2 of the Maiden Lane historical romance series. However with Scandalous Desires, Elizabeth Hoyt has cemented my love of this series and officially makes it an absolute favorite. I loved this book!

Scandalous Desires opens with Mary Darling having been taken by Charming Mickey O'Connor and Silence demanding her return. It is then that she finds out that Mickey is the baby's father marking her as a target of the river pirate's enemies. Given the chance of staying and caring for Mary, Silence chooses to stay even if it means placing herself in O'Connor's hands again. Mickey has Silence exactly where he wants her, in his palace and at his disposal, or so he thinks. Silence is lovely and kind, but Mickey hurt her terribly in the past and although she'll do anything for the baby, she won't give in to Mickey. The previous year at her request river pirate Charming Mickey O'Connor saved her husband and exacted a terrible price that cost Silence her reputation and marriage. Soon after, her husband died at sea and baby Mary Darling was abandoned at her doorstep. Caring for her beloved Mary Darling helps Silence get through this time of sorrow, and she's not about to let a ruthless criminal like Mickey O'Connor keep her away from her baby.

In Scandalous Desires, Elizabeth Hoyt maintains the excellent atmosphere already established in the first two books of the Maiden Lane series by taking the reader back to the St. Giles slums as the setting for this romance, however she expands that setting by making her central couple inhabitants of St. Giles and keeping the action there.

As opposed to the first two books in the series, there are no aristocrats as protagonists in this story. Instead with Mickey O'Connor's character, Hoyt focuses on the life and personal history of a criminal who grew up in the streets of a slum and rose to power by thieving and killing. Mickey is unacceptable to society even as he is feared, envied and respected for his cunning, wealth and power by a certain element in St. Giles. But where Mickey deviates from the previous male protagonists in this series and where Hoyt pushes the envelope with this male character is in that she makes him a real criminal, with not only a violent history but a present life that is also filled with violence and danger, crimes and killing -- one that he doesn't want to give up.

I wondered how Hoyt would redeem such a character for the reader, or if she could. Of course Hoyt delivers and redeems him up to a point by exploring Mickey's past while he falls head over heels in love with Silence Hollinbrook. Mickey's year-long guilt feelings over how his actions affected Silence's life and his yearning for Silence's tenderness and passion make him a passionate and sweet romance hero. There is an extreme contrast between the acquisitive man who will go to criminal lengths to get more, and the man who needs love, passion and tenderness in his life -- the cynical vs. the vulnerable. Mickey is flawed and quite irresistible!

Silence fights her attraction to Mickey and holds on to what she believes was the perfect love she shared with her dead husband. However, once Silence sees behind the criminal and into the man that is Mickey and falls in love with him, she accepts and embraces that love. In this she is a more traditional female romance protagonist, yet Silence in her own quiet, loving and nurturing way is also a passionate, determined woman once she knows what and who she wants in her life. I admire her for loving Mickey no matter what others say about him, but also love the fact that she sticks to her beliefs when it comes to what it is best for herself and her beloved Mary Darling.

The plot is quite engaging with a mixture of action and quiet moments used to build the romance, and secondary characters that include a crazed criminal as Mickey's enemy, Mickey's gang of river pirates, where there are characters that fall under those gray areas, and of course Silence's family and an appearance by the the Ghost of St. Guiles. There are some violent scenes that set the tone for the overall story and really fit in with the St. Giles setting. I enjoyed all of it, including a brief appearance by Caire and Temperance and the set up for Winter's romance.

Scandalous Desires has everything offered by the first two books in this series: great action and pacing, interesting secondary characters, excellent atmosphere, an action-packed climactic scene, and to top it off an excellent passionate romance between two very different people who love and in the end complement each other perfectly. And don't worry, Hoyt not only uses sexual tension to build up the romance, but she also delivers by including plenty of her signature hot and sexy scenes. I enjoyed everything about this romance!

Now we wait for the next installment in the series and Winter's romance which promises to be an exciting one. I can't wait to read it!

Category: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane Series
Publisher/Released: Grand Central Publishing/October 18, 2011-Kindle Edition
Grade: A

Visit Elizabeth Hoyt here.

Wicked Intentions, Book 1
Notorious Pleasures, Book 2
Scandalous Desires, Book 3

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, Book 2) 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 loved the first book in this series. Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt, the second book in the Maiden Lane Series, was filled with intrigue, passion and flawed characters, making this a thoroughly enjoyable book.

I found some similarities and contrasts between the first two books of the Maiden Lane Series. On the surface, the male characters are considered unacceptable and scandalous by society. They are only tolerated because they are from powerful families, and there's a need for both men to be redeemed -- personally and publicly. Lord Caire from Wicked Intentions was sexually depraved and Griffin, Lord Reading, is secretly running an illegal gin in St. Giles plus he's a shameless rake with a shameful reputation.

On the other hand, the women fit their role perfectly. In Wicked Intentions, Temperance seemed to be the perfect widow of her class, performing charity in St. Giles -- a saint. In Notorious Pleasures, Hero seems to be perfection itself as a Duke's daughter and sister. She carries herself in such a manner as to make it so. She is Lady Perfect to Griffin. He is Lord Shameless to Hero.

However unlike Lord Caire who was highly sensual but brooding and not to everyone's taste, Griffin is a gorgeous character. He is charming, likable and witty, as well as passionate and highly sensual. Griffin is the type of male protagonist that almost makes the reader forget that he's ruthlessly and without remorse slowly seducing his brother's fiancé. The fact that his brother Thomas is a flawed character himself and unlikable to boot makes it even easier for the reader to accept the seduction readily.

Hero herself is no "Lady Perfect." She is also ruthless when it comes to deceiving Thomas. She has no feelings for him and is more concerned with finding and exploring how perfect she is not by going along with Griffin's seduction and even provoking it, than weather or not what she's doing is right or wrong. Hero is not concerned about Thomas' pride or feelings in that respect. Neither is she truly concerned about Griffin, not until almost the end of the story. She is, however, concerned with keeping up appearances for the sake of her brother Maximus, the Duke. In that respect, her character is very similar to that of Temperance in Wicked Intentions. They both come to late realizations about love or what love is.

I found it interesting that in both stories the male characters, the depraved Lord Caire and the rakish and seemingly amoral Griffin, fell passionately in love with the women first. In both cases, the women are the ones loving the sex but holding out emotionally.

Hoyt can write explosive sexual scenes as well as scenes full of sensual tension. In Notorious Pleasures you'll find plenty of both. Add to that the fact that the characters are not necessarily noble ones and are having an illicit affair, and the sensuality increases. Then you have the fact that somewhere along the line, Hoyt makes the all-around dishonorable actions of these main characters acceptable to the reader, and the story becomes downright interesting.

Hoyt also plays with atmosphere in this story. Wicked Intentions was full of it with St. Giles and its dark  and filthy cobblestone alleyways as the focus. In Notorious Pleasures, Hoyt jumps back and forth between high society balls, carriage rides, dinner parties and those same filthy and danger-filled alleyways in St. Giles. This contrast between lifestyles gives the reader a well-rounded idea of the environment where these characters dwell, as well as why the events taking place are so important to all those involved. The gin mills, the poor, the orphanage, Parliament, the aristocracy -- they are all interrelated in this story.

As in the first book, I loved the secondary characters. There's a set-up for the next book involving Silence and the orphaned baby Mary Darling. I loved every single mention of these two characters and the orphanage in St. Giles and can't wait for that next book and their story. The Ghost of St. Giles makes another appearance, and I'm still curious.

Notorious Pleasures ends with a bang with lots of action, love and redemption. I truly enjoyed the ending. Most of all I enjoyed the sizzling passion coming from all those flawed characters. Griffin was one of those passionate male protagonists I couldn't help but love and savored every minute he was on the page. Now I can't wait for the next installment in this series, Scandalous Desires, Book 3.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, Book 2
Publisher/Released: Vision - February 1, 2011 Kindle Edition
Grade: B+

Visit Elizabeth Hoyt here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Releases: January/February 2011

It is time again for those new releases! And it's a really good time of the year, there are lots of upcoming releases and you know I want to read them all. However since that's not possible, I'll be highlighting a few of the books I'm really looking forward to reading for January and February. A few of my favorite writers have new releases and that's exciting!

Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Release Date: January 18, 2011

Lucy Jorik is the daughter of the former President of the United States.

Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends.

One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible—Ted Beaudine—the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is not happy about it. Not happy at all....

But even though Meg knows breaking up her best friend’s wedding is the right thing to do, no one else seems to agree. Faster than Lucy can say, “I don’t,” Meg becomes the most hated woman in town. A town where she’s stuck with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom.

Broke, stranded, and without her famous parents at her back, Meg is sure she can survive on her own wits. What’s the worst that can happen? Lose her heart to the one and only Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all....
Let's begin with Susan Elizabeth Phillips' new contemporary romance. SEP is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers and I've been waiting for her new release for a while. I will be buying Call Me Irresistible while it's hot off the presses!

Shadow Fever by Karen Marie Moning
Release Date: January 18, 2011

MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina, were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever.

Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister’s murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals who have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh—a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King, containing the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves. Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master’s penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac’s journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world . . . or destroy it.
And what about Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning? I've been waiting for the end of this series for quite a while! As a matter of fact, I haven't read Dreamfever yet, WAITING for this book just so I can finish the series in style, making this a highly anticipated book for me.

Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, Book 2) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Release Date: January 25, 2011

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?
Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt is the second book in her Maiden Lane series. I loved, loved Wicked Intentions, the first book... and can't wait to read Hero's story, so this is another highly anticipated book.

Scandal of the Year: Abandoned at the Altar by Laura Lee Guhrke
Release Date: January 25, 2011

One tryst was all she wanted . . .

From their very first meeting, Julia knew that Aidan Carr, the oh-so-proper Duke of Trathen, had a bit of the devil in him, a devil who secretly yearned for what he could not have, a devil who harbored a desire for her. So when she needed to be caught in a compromising situation, Aidan was the answer to her prayers.

One tryst just wasn't enough . . .

Aidan is supposed to be looking for a bride, yet his scandalous liaison with Julia is all he can think about. Hot, erotic memories of kissing her skin, falling into her bed, pulling her naked body on top of his own continue to torment and tempt him. What is it about this brazen seductress that he finds so hard to resist? And how can he stop himself from falling into her bed a second time?
I already have the first book in this series Wedding of the Season in my TBR. I'll probably wind up reading both of these books as a set, one after the other. I don't know why, but the summary for Scandal of the Year just calls to me. :)

The Sea Thy Mistress by Elizabeth Bear
Release Date: February 1, 2011

This direct sequel to Elizabeth Bear’s highly acclaimed All the Windwracked Stars picks up the story some fifty years after Muire went into the sea and became the new Bearer of Burdens.

Beautiful Cathoair, now an immortal warrior angel, has been called back to the city of Eiledon to raise his son--Muire’s son as well, cast up on shore as an infant. It is seemingly a quiet life. But deadly danger approaches…the evil goddess Heythe, who engineered the death of Valdyrgard, has travelled forward in time on her rainbow steed. She came expecting to gloat over a dead world, the proof of her revenge, but instead she finds a Rekindled land, renewed by Muire’s sacrifice.

She will have her revenge by forcing this new Bearer of Burdens to violate her oaths and break her bounds and thus bring about the true and final end of Valdyrgard. She will do it by tormenting both Cathoair and his son Cathmar. But Mingan, the gray wolf, sees his old enemy Heythe’s return. He will not allow it to happen again.
AND, oh boy! This is the last book in Elizabeth Bear's latest trilogy. I read and loved All the Windwracked Stars, Book 1, really enjoyed By the Mountain Bound, Book 2, and The Sea Thy Mistress, Book 3 is the end of this wonderful cyberpunk fantasy trilogy, with all its mythological details and characters. I received an ARC from Tor/Forge Books and will post an early review for this book.  :)

Absolutely, Positively (Lucy Valentine, Book 3) by Heather Webber
Release Date: February 1, 2011

“Exposed” by a Boston Herald reporter, Lucy is suddenly the talk of the town. Long back-story short: Even though the rest of her Valentine ancestors were blessed by Cupid with psychic abilities, Lucy’s only special power lies in her ability to find things. This skill has proven quite a blessing for those who come to her matchmaking agency in search of finding their long-lost loves. Now that Lucy’s secret is out, she has more new clients than she knows what to do with. But soon a certain man of mystery steals Lucy’s spotlight…

No, it’s not Sean Donahue, the sexy fireman-turned-private-eye who’s stolen Lucy’s heart. It’s a masked man in a cowboy hat, dubbed “The Lone Ranger,” who’s been throwing handfuls of cash across the Common. Now all of Beantown’s abuzz. Can Lucy unmask the mysterious money man, track down all her clients’ old flames, and turn up the heat on her love life? Absolutely, positively…
And last, but certainly not least, is the next installment in the Lucy Valentine series, Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber. I read the first book in this series late last year and loved Lucy! (No pun intended). I have the second book already, and hope to catch up with Lucy and Sean's light and fun adventures with this book.

I might add more later if something I adore catches my eye, but that's it for now! What about you? Any great releases you're looking forward to reading?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: Favorite Books & Authors (Part II)

The end of the year is here already! It's time to post that pesky list of favorite books and authors.

As you may have noticed, I split my posts and posted my favorite LGBT list separately. This list was originally one, but LGBT took a life of its own, as I had so many favorites in that area. After a while it became obvious that those books should have their own post and I think it worked out better this way.

This year, I'm taking my favorites from 2010 releases only, making my task an easier one. Every year I read both new releases and back list books by new-to-me authors and/or books that have been accumulated in my "TBR" pile. This year was no different, as a matter of fact most of my reading came from my TBR -- I really cleaned up quite a bit! I'll list my favorites in that category (which abound) at the bottom of this post.

Here are my top 5 books and authors for the year:

1. Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, Book 4) by Ilona Andrews - Urban Fantasy (2010 Ace)

I chose Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews as my top new release of the year back in June, and by end-of-year, that still holds! There was nothing about this book that disappointed me. I loved everything about this story! Kate, Curran, secondary characters, plot and even the romance. This is an urban fantasy series that just gets better as it goes along. I impatiently anticipate the books and know the next one will be just as good or better than the last. The next installment, Magic Slays, releases on May 31, 2011 and I can.not.wait. to read it!

The Ilona Andrews writing team also wrote another book that I thoroughly enjoyed in 2010. Bayou Moon (2010 Ace) was the second book in their Edge fantasy romance series. Their next installment in this series has become another highly anticipated book for me in 2011, taking this prolific writing team to the top of my list for 2010. 
Other Urban Fantasy Favorite read in 2010:
Roadkill (Cal Leandros, Book 5) by Rob Thurman- (2010 Roc)

2. The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, Book 1) by Meljean Brook - Sci-Fi/Fantasy Romance Steam Punk (2010 Berkley Trade)

Last year I fell in love with Meljean Brook's writing, but then I didn't expect that I would be choosing one of her books as my top read in sci-fi/fantasy romance steam punk in 2010. The Iron Duke undoubtedly fits all those categories. This book has the excellent world building, sci-fi and steam punk details, romance and adventure that I love in this type of book, and there's no question that it's at the top of my list.

And I can't mention The Iron Duke without mentioning Here There Be Monsters, the novella included in the Burning Up Anthology (2010 Berkley) that served as an introduction to The Iron Seas series. Talk about wetting the appetite! My only regret is that now I have to wait almost a year for the next book in this series, making the next installment one of my most anticipated books of 2011!

However, that's not all when it comes to this author. She also writes one of my two top favorite paranormal romance series, The Guardian Series. I loved catching up to the last book and everyone knows I couldn't stop recommending it. Demon Forged, Book 5 (2009 Berkley) and her latest release, Demon Blood, Book 6 (2010 Berkley) were favorites, making Meljean Brook a "must read" author for me.

3. Play of Passion (Psy/Changeling, Book 9) by Nalini Singh  - Fantasy Romance/Paranormal (2010 Berkley)

Nalini Singh has been a favorite writer in this category for a long, long time. This is one of my long-time favorite paranormal romance series, and I'm happy to say that it still holds. This year, Ms. Singh released two books. I really enjoyed the first book, Bonds of Justice, Book 8. But then, I read Play of Passion, Book 9 and had no other choice but to give it a top spot on my list! I haven't written a review for this book yet, but I can tell you that I loved, loved the romance, both Indigo and Drew were excellent, strong characters and the book as a whole was tough to put down.  I can't wait for Hawke and Sienna's book, Kiss of Snow which releases in June 2011!

4. Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lanes, Book 1) by Elizabeth Hoyt - Historical Romance (2010 Grand Central Publishing)

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lanes, Book 1) by Elizabeth Hoyt was a passionate and dark piece that reminded me why it is that I love Ms. Hoyt's writing. I loved the setting and atmosphere, the assorted and intriguing secondary characters, the passionate romance and the plot from beginning to end. I can't wait to read Notorious Pleasures, the second installment in the Maiden Lane series, which releases in February 2011, and am hoping for more of that same slightly Gothic(ky) feel.

5. Love in the Afternoon (The Hathaways, Book 5) by Lisa Kleypas - Historical Romance (2010 St. Martin's Press)

If Wicked Intentions is the beginning of a series, Love in the Afternoon is an ending. If Wicked Intentions is stark and dark, then Love in the Afternoon is romantic and sweet. These two books are quite different, yet they both reached me in the historical romance category.

Lisa Kleypas released two historical romance books this year, and they were both related to the Hathaway series. The first, Married by Morning (The Hathaways, Book 4), was Leo and Catherine Marks' story and boy did I enjoy that book. I loved Leo! But then the following month, came Love in the Afternoon, (The Hathaways Book 5). Beatrix was the one character that had intrigued me from the get go and as it turned out, her story was worth the wait for me. I loved the sweet romance (the letters), the characters and the way Kleypas ended this series.
Interesting, right? So many different categories read, yet the books on my top five this year are limited to four categories. I was not only surprised by this turn of events, but also by the fact that my top read from the new releases was urban fantasy and not romance. Plus, I don't have any contemporaries up there, and believe me, I read plenty of them this year! What happened? Most of my favorite romances came from back list reading and were released in previous years. See my list below:
  1. Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi - 1991 Historical Romance/Americana
  2. The Endearment by Lavyrle Spencer - 1982 Historical Romance/Americana
  3. Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair - 2007 Sci-Fi Romance
  4. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie - 2000 Contemporary Romance
  5. Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger - 2007 Young Adult Historical Fiction
  6. Years by Lavyrle Spencer - 1986 Historical Romance/Americana
  7. Morning Glory by Lavyrle Spencer - 1989 Historical Romance/Americana
  8. Moonstruck by Susan Grant - 2008 Sci-Fi Romance
  9. See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson - 2003 Contemporary Romance
  10. Vengeance in Death by J.D. Robb - 1997 Sci-Fi Romance/Police Procedural 
That does it for me. 2010 brought some excellent surprises and a few disappointments, but best of all there were good, solid books and time for reading and enjoying them. I hope yours was just as good as mine. Now, I'm looking forward to those 2011 reads!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane Series, Book 1) by Elizabeth Hoyt

I finally read Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt and loved it. From the beginning I was caught by the dark atmosphere, the grim setting and flawed characters. However, the story itself kept me turning those pages.

Ms. Hoyt sets Wicked Intentions in St. Giles, a poor, dirty, and grim section of London that we don't often see highlighted in historical romance novels. Our female protagonist Temperance and her brother Winter work in a charity home for the foundling children of whores, the poor and desperate. One evening on her way home from picking up just such a child, Temperance comes across a man in an alley standing over a dead body and to her consternation this man follows her home with a proposition.

Lord Caire is in St. Giles investigating the brutal murder of his long time mistress, but he doesn't know this section of London, and its inhabitants won't answer his questions or give him the time of day. The way he figures it the respectable and knowledgeable Mrs. Temperance Dews would serve as the perfect guide through the streets and alleys of St. Guiles. He'll pay her for her services, after all everyone has a price.

Temperance is not happy that this man followed her home and broke into her parlor, but she's not about to show her discomfort. She knows he's a Lord and listens to his proposition with an open mind. Being a realist and in need, Temperance proceeds to negotiate the best of terms with Lord Caire. She'll serve as his guide if he pays for her services, and introduces her to the appropriate set within the ton until she finds a respectable patron for the failing and bankrupt charity home. A deal is struck and they set off.

I really enjoyed Temperance and Caire's murder investigation. It took them to some of the darkest places in St. Giles, setting both tone and atmosphere by giving the reader a real feel for the place and its inhabitants. They encounter everything from gin whores and madams, to thieves and rogues and visit a mercantile, dark pubs and whore houses as they face the ever-growing dangers that await them as they navigate dark streets and alleys.

However, it is not all grimness and dirt, there are also balls and musicales included in this story. Caire keeps his part of the deal and by attending those events Temperance experiences a different lifestyle. In the process she finds that people are not so different after all, and that the glitter of the ton doesn't necessarily hide the ugliness present underneath some of its aristocratic members. Hoyt slowly develops the romance between Temperance and Caire during the murder investigation. However lust is another matter entirely, they both feel it and that's what Hoyt uses as a building block to the romance.

I was taken from the beginning by the sexual tension and chemistry, and eventually the heat that Temperance and Caire generated as a couple. Caire doesn't believe that he's capable of feeling emotion and he suffers pain when physically touched by others. Plus, he has the reputation of being sexually deviant throughout both the ton and St. Giles because of his peculiar sexual preferences. In Temperance, Caire finds a passion for life and a vibrancy that he can only envy and wants to absorb, even if it is only by being in her presence.

Temperance is a passionate woman who represses her emotions behind a mask of widowhood, dark clothing and plain looks. She hides passions, lust, guilt, secrets and self-contempt behind a façade of duty and self-confidence. Temperance is shocked when Caire sees through that mask and relieved when she can be herself with him. Temperance and Caire scorched the pages with their desire and yearning for each other. There's growth for both characters throughout the development of their relationship and romance. It was wonderful to experience how they came to terms with their weaknesses and finally found solace and love in the midst of all the grit and tarnished glitter.

Hoyt's characters are dark in Wicked Intentions and she exposes their foibles and sins. This includes the whole cast of characters, from central to secondary, some of which are quite fascinating. I was intrigued by some of the secondary characters and hope to meet them again as their stories were left a mystery or unfinished: Silence, Winter, Asa, O'Connor and the Ghost of St. Giles. There's a secondary story involving Silence and her husband that was both sad and engaging and one that I hope will be further developed.

I loved Wicked Intentions, the setting and atmosphere, central characters, romance, plotting and some of the unforgettable secondary characters. This is a series I will definitely be following in the future. Notorious Pleasures is already on my list of books to read in February 2011.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane Series, Book 1
Release Date: August 1, 2010
Grade: A

Visit Elizabeth Hoyt here.

KMont's 2010 Year of the Historical Challenge - November Review

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Memorable Characters: Simon & The Serpent Prince

There are certain books I remember fondly, not necessarily because the story was oh so grand, but because there was a memorable character or a moment that pulled me into the story. I tend to fall in love with characters and moments -- sometimes that does it for me.

Viscount Simon Iddesleigh from The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt is one of those characters. Every so often I see the book on my shelf and smile. Ohhh, I liked him! He fell deeply and passionately in love with his Lucy almost on sight (ahh, her terrifying eyebrows!). Simon had absolutely no problem verbalizing the love or showing passion and he could liquefy a stone with all that dirty talk seductive dialogue. The scenes in the bedroom were hot, no question about it! Simon was a good/bad boy, doing bad things for a good reason. And isn't that always the case with heroes? Yes, I loved him for all those reasons, but I remember him most for that subtle macho/alpha attitude combined with the metrosexual fashion 'vibe' he had going on, his hmm... favorite shoes and the ohh soooo 'golden and gilded' sense of style!
Everyone swung around, and Lucy almost let her mouth hang open. The viscount was magnificent. That was the only word for it. Magnificent. He wore a silver brocade coat embroidered in silver and black on the turned-back sleeves, skirts, and all down the front. Underneath was a sapphire waistcoat with vining leaves and multicolored flowers lavishly embroidered all over. His shirt had falls of lace at the wrists and throat, and he wore a snow-white wig on his head.

"Late!" Papa exploded. "Late for my super! Sit down promptly at seven o'clock in this household, sir, and if you cannot..." Papa trailed off and stared fixedly down at the viscount's feet.

Lucy followed his gaze. The viscount wore elegant pumps with --

"Red heels!" Papa shouted. "Good God, sirrah, think you this is a bordello?"
Yes, those red heels are as memorable as are Lucy's terrifying eyebrows and Simon's angst and passion.

Monday, July 5, 2010

New July Releases I can't wait to read!

Okay... so it's been a while since I've looked forward to reading so many new releases in one month. I'm really excited! Two of them release tomorrow and I'll probably read the first one to arrive. There were originally six books I was just drooling over, but I read Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh early, so here are the five left on my list.

Demon Blood by Meljean Brook
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Long before she was transformed into a Guardian and trained to fight demons, Rosalia knew darkness all too well. Raised by a demon, Rosalia learned to guard her heart—and her soul—until she found a man worthy of her love. Once, she thought that man would be the powerful vampire, Deacon…until he betrayed the Guardians.

After losing everything to the lies of a demon, Deacon lives only for revenge—and is taken aback when Rosalia offers to help. A vampire who has nothing—who is nothing—isn’t worthy of her attention. But Rosalia wants to do more than just look, and the explosive need between them can’t be held in check. And when Deacon’s vengeful quest creates a dangerous alliance of their enemies, she will be his only hope…

The Search by Nora Roberts
Release Date: July 6, 2010
To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare...

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona's cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands...

Dark and Stormy Knights Anthology edited by P.N. Elrod with Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Carrie Vaughn, Vicki Pettersson and more.
Release Date: July 20, 2010
It was a dark and stormy knight, and nine dark defenders embarked upon a most perilous quest….

They’re the ultimate defenders of humanity—modern day knights who do dark deeds for all the right reasons. In this all-star collection, nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors bring us thrilling, all-new stories of supernatural knights that are brimming with magic mystery and mayhem.

John Marcone sets aside his plans to kill Harry Dresden to go head-to-head with a cantrev lord in Jim Butcher’s Even Hand. Kate Daniels is called upon for bodyguard duty to protect Saimen, a shifter she trusts less than the enemy in Ilona Andrews’ A Questionable Client. Cormac must stop a killer werewolf before it attacks again on the next full moon in Carrie Vaughn’s God’s Creatures. And in Vicki Pettersson’s Shifting Star, Skamar gets more than she bargained for when she goes after a creature kidnapping young girls—and enlists the aid of her frustratingly sexy neighbor.

When everything’s on the line, will these knights complete their missions and live to fight again another day? Find out in Dark and Stormy Knights!

Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase
Release Date: July 27, 2010
After surviving the perils of Egypt, Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle, is back in London, facing the most dire threat of all: his irrational family . . . and Miss Olivia Wingate-Carsington. A descendant of notorious—but very aristocratic—swindlers, the delectable redhead has the ability to completely unhinge him and a long history of dragging him into her scandalous schemes.

Olivia may be Society's darling, but she's aware a respectable future looms menacingly. And so when Lisle is forced to go on a family mission, she sees this as the perfect chance for one last adventure—even if it is with the one man in the world she can't wrap around her finger. But really, she only wants to help . . .

Which is why Lisle and Olivia find themselves in a gloomy Scottish castle inhabited by spiteful ghosts and craven murderers . . . and a shocking secret: the greatest peril of all may be burning within their own stubborn hearts.

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
Release Date: July 27, 2010


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 St. Giles like the back of her hand-she's spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants 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 London's 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 cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control-one that may well destroy them both.


I think this is a pretty good mix: one paranormal romance, one contemporary romance suspense, one urban fantasy anthology and two historical romances. I just needed a good science-fiction romance in there to round it off. But wait! I'll be reading Susan Grant's new release Sureblood by August 1st, so that should do it. That's some great summer reading to look forward to, don't you think?

What books are you waiting for and can't wait to read this hot month of July?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Helen Fitzwilliam has been mistress to the Duke of Lister since age seventeen, and they have two illegitimate children from this relationship, Abigail and Jamie. After years of living in fear, neglect and humiliation, Helen finally finds the courage to take her children and run away from the Duke. With a letter of reference, two bags of clothing, and using false identities, Helen and her children need a place to hide and find themselves in a desperate situation.

Sir Alistair Munroe, a renowned naturalist, has been residing at Castle Greaves as a recluse for five years with one servant as company. He decided to spare society the sight of his horribly scarred face after returning from a three-year journey in the Colonies where he was a victim of terrible torture during the Spinners Falls massacre. There's no question from Hoyt's physical description of Sir Alistair that he is not a sight easy to behold.

On a dark and stormy night, Helen and her children arrive at Castle Greaves in Scotland where she plans on becoming Sir Alistair Munroe's housekeeper. During their initial meeting, Helen is left speechless by Sir Alistair's appearance and rudeness. He doesn't expect anything different from her -- this beautiful woman and unsolicited housekeeper who just shows up at his doorstep. However, due to her desperate circumstances, Helen has no choice but to straighten her shoulders and go forth with her plans, if nothing else for her children's sake.

Alistair and Helen's initial interactions are both highly amusing and sad. Alistair doesn't want a housekeeper, least of all a beautiful one with children -- a lady who is obviously running away from a man and whose children are scared of his scars, an obvious reminder of what he lost. Helen doesn't really want to stay in the dirty, old castle with a beast of a man who is too uncivilized for words and scares her children. The work needed to bring everything up to acceptable standards alone is overwhelming. However she has been left with no choice and in her desperation Helen shows not only courage, but also ingenuity and perseverance. Her perseverance wins the day.

What is it about this book that I enjoyed so much? In re-reading it, I'll say that the answer to that question is that this story is about second chances.

Helen made a terrible mistake as a young woman and became mistress to the Duke of Lister. She had two children with this cold man who thinks of her and her children as no more than possessions. Yet after all those years instead of giving up on herself, she has the courage to leave and to think that she is worth more. She makes her own choices and even after she finds real love Helen stands up for what she wants. In Helen, Hoyt creates a female protagonist who erred, but who found the courage to look for that second chance at life and love.

But there's a second chance for Sir Alistair also. Alistair has no hope for a future due to the way society views his scarred face. He is lonely and has given up on having a life outside of his castle and profession. He doesn't dare hope for a family or love, but on meeting Helen, Alistair has the chance to have both and he flourishes.

I love seeing how Alistair slowly becomes less aware of his scars around Helen and the children and becomes the passionate man who needs her. The way he becomes more of a teacher and a mentor to the children, and eventually their protector, savior, hero and father figure, even though his is the face of a villain. In this story, not only do Alistair and Helen get their second chance at life, but they also provide a second chance for the children to have a family and happiness.

The outside conflicts in this story were resolved rather simply and quickly. To Beguile a Beast is mainly focused on the couple, Abigail and Jamie and everything else is really more of a background story. The Duke of Lister and his pursuit of Helen are used as a catalyst, but don't really take much page time. The ongoing mystery of who was the traitor at Spinners Falls is very much in the periphery, although there's a bit of speculation and set up at the end for the next book.

To Beguile a Beast is not a perfect book by any means. Besides the above mentioned, the secondary characters are glossed over and some of them, as in the Duke of Lister, are two-dimensional, while the main characters are well developed. However, there is something about Helen, Sir Alistair and the children that reached me the first time I read this book and during this re-read. I think it's definitely those second chances at life and love.

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, Book 3
Release Date: May 1, 2009
Grade - Original Review: A-
Re-read Grade: B

Nath's 2010 Re-read Challenge - May Read Review