Review: Duke of Midnight

Review: Duke of MidnightDuke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #6
Published by Grand Central Publishing on October 15th 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 360
Goodreads
five-stars

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!

five-stars

Review: Lord of Darkness

Review: Lord of DarknessLord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, #5) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #5
Published by Grand Central Publishing on February 26th 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 360
Goodreads
five-stars

Intense, Emotional Romance. First, a warning. The main characters in this book: Godric St. John and Lady Margaret both have been in love before. Some readers may not like that neither prior love was venal or unworthy. These are two characters who loved before and are not looking for love again. But that is one of the reasons that I love this book. The characters struggle with feeling of betrayal and uncertainty. Hoyt always manages to expose the flaws and emotions of her characters. I always feel like I know her characters and that is one reason why I find her books so compelling. Even when her characters make poor decisions and mistakes, I still understand them — even when I don’t have sympathy for them. That makes a great read for me. I believe these characters. When they change and come to love one another, I feel that I have been on the journey with them and I am happy to have spent time with them. As the fifth book in the Maiden Lane series, I was smiling when my favorite couple in the series — Hero and Griffin (from the second book of the series, Notorious Pleasures) make an extended appearance. Loved, loved. loved this book!

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five-stars

Review: Thief of Shadows

Review: Thief of ShadowsThief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #4
Published by Grand Central Publishing on June 26th 2012
Genres: Historical
Pages: 360
Goodreads
five-stars

Another Hoyt Masterpiece. Thief of Shadows is the fourth book in Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series. It tells the story of Winter Makepeace and Lady Isabel Beckinhall. If you haven’t read the other books — don’t read this one first. Not because the story isn’t self contained. It definitely is. But there are things revealed in this book that are secrets in the first three books. The romance between Winter and Isabel is hot and yet sweet and deep. Both characters have secrets. What Hoyt does in a magnificent fashion is layer her characters. They are never stereotypes. They are memorable and bigger than life and thus impossible to forget. I’ve read all her books multiple times because I continue to think about the characters and the language that Hoyt uses is compelling and lyrical. I highly recommend Thief of Shadows and any and all of Hoyt’s Maiden Lane books.

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five-stars

Review: Scandalous Desires

Review: Scandalous DesiresScandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #3
Published by Grand Central Publishing on October 24th 2011
Genres: Historical
Pages: 370
Goodreads
five-stars

Who Can Resist a Not So Good Pirate? The third book in the Maiden Lane series does not disappoint. The story of Silence Hollingbrook and Charming Mickey O’Connor is a definite treat. For me one of the most interesting parts of the story is how we learn that the night when Mickey “ruined” Silence by having her spend the night with him (even though nothing happened) changed not only Silence’s life, but also Mickey’s. I always enjoy how Hoyt has characters develop and evolve though her books. I also really enjoy how her Maiden Lane series uses the characters throughout all the books. The incident from book one of the series, spawns this story. While one does not need to read all the books, there is certainly a more layered and interesting storyline being developed throughout all the books. That being said, I hope that Hoyt will give us an update on Mickey and Silence in a future Maiden Lane novel.

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five-stars

Review: Notorious Pleasures

Review: Notorious PleasuresNotorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #2
Published by Vision on February 1st 2011
Genres: Historical
Pages: 371
Goodreads
five-stars

I’m in love with Griffin Reading! Notorious Pleasures is the story of Griffin, a second son, and Lady Hero Batten, who is engaged to Griffin’s older brother. Griffin and Hero have one of the best meeting scenes ever as they meet when Griffin in literally engaged in a scandalous sexual encounter with another woman. I always enjoy how Hoyt confounds the expectations of stereotypical characters. Griffin, who should be the one who reluctantly loves, instead is the grand romantic hero. **small spoiler** I was enthralled by the scene where Griffin goes to his brother and begs him to release Hero from their engagement. He does this despite his poor relationship with his brother because he loves Hero and understands how special their love is. Hero and Griffin are my favorite Maiden Lane couple and I absolutely love when they make appearances in subsequent books. Definitely a sigh worthy book.

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five-stars

Review: Wicked Intentions

Review: Wicked IntentionsWicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on August 1st 2010
Genres: Historical
Pages: 382
Goodreads
five-stars

Story of a Sinner and a Saint. One thing I love about Elizabeth Hoyt’s books is how she takes characters who are not always loveable and attractive at first to a reader and then through the story brings the reader to care deeply about the characters and their happiness. She also has a way of taking characters that appear to be opposites and then has them struggling with a similar problem in different ways. Wicked Intentions is the story of Temperance and Caire; she is a “saint” who hides a dark secret and he is a “sinner” who hides a vulnerable and caring soul. These two tormented people learn to accept and love one another. I’ve now read this book three times and I love it more and more as Hoyt contiues to add to her Maiden Lane world. I never give five stars for a book I read only once. I reserve my five stars for books that I consider compelling re-reads. Hoyt is building a whole world of interesting, compelling characters who interact with one another. While one can read any book apart from the others, the real depth of her storytelling is in the accumulated stories that she is telling.

five-stars