Published by Forever Yours on November 14th 2017
“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.