Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane

Review: Once Upon a Maiden LaneOnce Upon a Maiden Lane (Maiden Lane, #12.5) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Published by Forever Yours on November 14th 2017
Genres: Historical

“Mary Whitsun did not like comely gentlemen.”

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable story that feels like Cinderella, except that there is a twist that gives the story and characters more depth. The story is short and everything happens pretty quickly but I still enjoyed Hoyt giving us this secondary character’s HEA.

THE STORY: Mary Whitsun knows better than responds when a handsome young aristocrat accosts her when she is at the bookshop. Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell mistakes Mary for his fiancee. Indeed it appears that Mary, who was raised in an orphanage may be the long lost twin of Henry’s fiance. If that is true then in fact Mary is Henry’s rightful fiance since they were betrothed at birth. In this Cinderella story, Mary, the servant, is transformed into a Lady.

OPINION: This story is sweeter than most of Hoyt’s books as the characters are younger. (This story definitely has its sexy side, but not as graphic as most Hoyt novels).  From the beginning, this novella has a Cinderella vibe as Mary is transformed from the servant she was raised to be to a young lady ready to take her place in society and be married.

The majority of the story is about Mary’s transformation and her getting to know the man who was contracted to be her husband. I liked that this story takes these young people as where they are in life. Henry, especially, is struggling to be his own man in the face of the demands of his parents. (Not that his parents are evil people, but rather they are more fully “adult”.) Henry begins his rebellion when he recognizes Mary in the bookshop and then realizes that he is more attracted to her than the second sister who was his replacement fiancee. In order to be the man for Mary, he has to finally assert himself.

Mary has to figure out who she is as well. Swept into the aristocracy, she is threatened to be swamped by the expectations and demands of others. She has to determine who she is and who she is going to be.

While the story focuses on Mary’s transformation, there is some drama and some danger involved. There is also a twist at the end that makes this more than a sweet cake of a story as the characters face some issues that allow them to demonstrate their depth and maturity.

I judged that I really enjoyed the story by the fact that I immediately wanted to re-read some of the interactions between Henry and Mary. The characters are always my touchstone for romance stories and I really liked these two.

I would have enjoyed this story just for Mary and Henry’s romance but there are some special treats for fans of the Maiden Lane series. We get some glimpses into the happy domestic lives of some of the couples from the series which was quite a treat as this series comes to a close.

WORTH MENTIONING: The biggest problem with this story is that it gets the origins of Mary Whitsun wrong. Her origins are an important part of WICKED INTENTIONS but there is a completely different story presented here. It is unfortunate because it detracts from the story for those who are fans of the series, but after deducting for my distraction from the story, the remainder of this review judges the story with this flaw set aside.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ONCE UPON A MAIDEN LANE is book 12.5 of the Maiden Lane series. The story is self-contained and can be read on its own, but readers of the series will get some glimpses of favorite characters. This story is most connected to the first book in the series, WICKED INTENTIONS.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.


Review: Once Upon a Moonlit Night

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Once Upon a Moonlit NightOnce Upon a Moonlit Night (Maiden Lane, #10.5) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #10.5
Published by Forever Yours on July 5th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 100

“‘I am Hippolyta Royle, the wealthiest heiress in England.  I’ve been kidnapped by a scoundrel bent on forcing me into marriage.  If you bring me safely back to my father in London you shall be richly rewarded.’

The man blinked as a raindrop ran down his nose.

Then he burst into laughter.”

FINAL DECISION: For a novella, this is superior.  The novella manages to squeeze in a lot of romance, danger, drama, sexual tension, witty arguments and banter and a mongoose. I am happy that Hippolyta ends up with an unusual man who can understand and appreciate her fully.

THE STORY:  This novella answers the question from DUKE OF SIN of “what happened to Hippolyta after she escaped from the Duke of Montgomery?”  The answer is that the heiress stopped a coach on the road and ended up making her escape.  Hippolyta is the wealthiest heiress in England, but she has a secret.  The truth is that her father was married to an Indian woman and Hippolyta is the result of that union.  Despite her love for her deceased mother, Hippolyta hides the truth in order to not damage her marriage prospects.  After escaping, Hippolyta is dressed in rags, is dirty and stinks.  It is no wonder that Matthew Mortimer, the Earl of Paxton believes Hippolyta to be an actress of other grifter.  Matthew, a cartographer, has unexpectedly inherited the earldom and will need to marry an heiress because of the estate’s debts.  The funny thing is that he doesn’t realize that the woman he picks up on the road would fit that bill.

OPINION:  Novellas as never as satisfying as a full length novel.  That being said, I prefer to judge the novella on its own merits without wishing for some other format.  For a novella, this is superior.  The novella manages to squeeze in a lot of romance, danger, drama, sexual tension, witty arguments and banter and a mongoose.

I thought that the characters were eminently likeable even though Matthew jumps to conclusions about Hippolyta in the beginning.  Despite believing her an actress or whore, he treats her with respect – even though the two argue like crazy.  Although the length of the novella precludes complex situations or characters, these characters are not one dimensional.

I liked the characters, thought the story was funny and sweet and I enjoyed the way these two argued and eventually fell in love.  Hoyt also does a great job of bringing both a road trip story and a blackmail story together and making the pace work.

As the Maiden Lane series wraps up, I especially appreciate that Hoyt has made the time and effort to give readers this novella to finish up Hippolyta’s story and give her a happy ending.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The fairy tale for this one is The Prince and the Parsnip.  I love the parsnip part which is so much more fairy tale than a carrot.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ONCE UPON A MOONLIT NIGHT is book 10.5 in the Maiden Lane series.  It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this novella 4.5 stars.