Series: Maiden Lane #6
Published by Grand Central Publishing on October 15th 2013
How Does Hoyt Turn An Unlikeable Duke Into a Hero?
Spoilers abound so beware…
Duke of Midnight is the story of Maximus, The Duke of Wakefield and Artemis Greaves, the companion of Lady Penelope Chadwicke (the woman Wakefield has decided to marry). Maximus and Artemis do not get off to a good start. Maximus insulted her in Lord of Darkness (book 5) as being “an invisible little woman who trails … like a pale wraith.” Artemis sees Maximus as cold and heartless.
Maximus has created a cold, hard shell over himself after having witnessed the murder of his parents in St. Giles at the age of 14 for which he blames himself. He goes out at night as the Ghost of St. Giles, but unlike the other two ghosts (whose stories are told in books 4 & 5), Maximus does not take on the guise of the Ghost to seek justice or to protect others, but rather to seek vengeance for the deaths of his parents. He has been seeking their murderer for two decades.
Artemis is haunted by the actions of her twin brother Apollo. (Yes, the mythology references are obvious and plenty). Her brother was accused of murdering three of his friends, but rather than being hanged was committed to Bedlam as incurably insane. He has been there for several years but Artemis is afraid that her brother will not live much longer if he is not freed.
One night Lady Penelope goes to St. Giles on a dare. Artemis as her companion has no choice but to accompany her. In St. Giles, the women are attacked and are saved by Maximus as the Ghost. This encounter is the first time that Maximus truly “sees” Artemis, who is ready to draw a knife to protect herself and Penelope. In the resulting confrontation, Artemis comes away with the Ghost’s signet ring and realizes that the Ghost is an aristocrat.
Putting the clues together, Artemis soon realizes that Wakefield is the ghost and decides to blackmail him in order to gain Apollo’s release. Her blackmail attempts puts Maximus and Artemis together alone and the two begin to be attracted to one another. Eventually, Maximus agrees to free Apollo because of his feelings for Artemis and hides him in his London home. Artemis arranges to be a temporary companion to Wakefield’s sister so that she can come into Wakefield’s home and be with her brother.
While under the same roof, however, Maximus and Artemis begin an affair. She has no hope of marriage because of her station. Maximus, because of his guilt about his parents, has devoted himself to the duty of being the Duke and thus must seek an appropriate wife – not one whose family is tainted with madness. The two, however, are enamored of one another and Maximus quickly realizes that while the Duke cannot marry Artemis, Maximus, the man, needs her in his life.
Of course, the situations are resolved and the HEA is well-earned and satisfying. I found it
beautiful and compelling.
This is the sixth book of the Maiden Lane Series. My absolute favorite of the series was book 2, Notorious Pleasures. In that book, the Duke of Wakefield was incredibly unlikeable. I came close to hating him for the way he interfered between Griffin and Hero. Wakefield has made some cameo appearances in the subsequent books and while I had moved from hate, I certainly did not view him as a hero, even as I could see that Hoyt was going to pair Artemis and Wakefield together. It is the magic of Hoyt’s writing, that by the end of this book, I not only loved Wakefield’s character, sympathized with him, and rooted for him to have his HEA, but I also could understand his actions in Notorious Pleasures.
Oh, Hoyt! How do you make me love your characters so much, even when I am reluctant to do so?
The book has one of my favorite ending passages ever. (Not in the epilogue, which is in true Hoyt fashion a teaser for future books). The language of the last few paragraphs was definitely something to sigh about. It was the perfect way for Maximus to communicate that Artemis would never be unworthy of being his Duchess. Loved it. Beautiful!
My only tiny, tiny complaint was that I didn’t find the fairy tale story accompanying the text as compelling as other ones in the series. The last two were so wonderful that I guess I had somewhat of a letdown for The Legend of the Herla King. The fairy tale, however, continues to operate as a mirror and a contrast with the main story, an interesting device that Hoyt uses in all her books.
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I have a policy of never giving a book 5 stars upon one reading, so I finished it once on the day of release and then turned around and read it again the next day. I’ve been intrigued by bits and parts of it in the subsequent days and have gone back to read certain passages. To me, that signals a book that I will re-read again and again. So definitely 5 stars.
I can’t wait for the next book in the series. The Epilogue was very intriguing!