Wednesday, June 1, 2016

ARC Review: Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

Series:     Maiden Lane #10
Pub. Date:May 31, 2016
Publisher:Grand Central Pub.
Length:364 Pages

Please forgive me, for I have been living under a rock. This is my first read from Elizabeth Hoyt, and I so wish I would have picked her up before now! But one good thing about finding a stellar author late in the game is that you have their whole backlist of books to work through instead of waiting around months or a year for a new release! I will definitely be working through this lady's backlist because I totally dug her writing style.
[A] housekeeper always looked completely neat, even when the master had just bitten her.
The heroine of this tenth installment of the Maiden Lane series, Bridget Crumb, is a no-nonsense utterly practical housekeeper. As the bastard daughter of a society matron, Bridget was hidden away as a child to be raised by foster parents, and she entered into service at twelve years old. But now Bridget's birth mother has asked for help, and Bridget is using her housekeeping job as a cover for her amateur sleuthing and spying, trying to recover items with which her employer is blackmailing people. When Bridge is discovered snooping by the dastardly duke, she finds herself in over her head, and at risk of losing her heart. Bridget was a good solid heroine. She wasn't missish or timid around the arrogant and wicked rogue, and her stubborn and defiant personality drew Valentine to her like a moth to a flame. I liked that she ended up being the moral compass and heart of our depraved duke. 

You have to kill the thing you love or they'll use it against you.

Valentine Napier, Duke of Montgomery is one of the edgiest historical heroes that I have read. I had my reservations about his character at first. He is darkly depraved and debauched. He was utterly wicked. He was downright gnaw-tee y'all! But then you discover that Valentine is a tortured hero who endured a horrendous childhood and all that debauchery can be laid at the feet of his disgusting and evil parents. Truly vile creatures. The things that Val endured growing up seem to have made him a little mad as well, and I am a sucker for a mad hero. Some of my favorite parts of the book were Val's dramatics, like when he railed at his servants:
Away! Away, you pestilence, you flies, you midges of ruination! Get thee back to thy kitchens of destruction and God damn thy lips and thy words and thine eyes! Away, I say, and never come again! A plague and a flood of amphibians upon the lot of you!
I also loved Val's cunning and divisiveness; he was truly a worthy adversary for those members of the ton whom he was blackmailing or providing justice for their poor behavior. I even loved that he confronted Bridget's mother and brother. While he may not have went about it in the best way, he really was standing up for Bridget against a mother's poor choices.

Even though our heroine is a housekeeper, this story didn't quite have the feel of a rags-to-riches romance. I liked that Val and Bridget seemed to better each other.  While Bridget definitely had more work to do with Val's wickedness... it was nice to see her stand up for herself and confront her mother about the choices she made. I don't think Bridget would have ever spoken up were it not for Val's machinations that forced the issue. Amazingly, Val came to desire and almost crave the opinion of his very opinionated housekeeper. She became his guiding light out of the darkness of his childhood. 

While I would not go so far as to say that Valentine was redeemed, there was so much insight into his past and the reasons for his behavior that you almost forgive him for all his bad acts, especially when you start really looking at his blackmail "victims".  The only one I can say who was truly innocent was Hippolyta, though I never quite understood what he was actually blackmailing her with, or the significance of that miniature. I would have liked to see more of the Lords of Chaos get their comeuppance though.  Perhaps Hugh Fitzroy, Duke of Kyle, will continue to target those individuals in the next book, Duke of Pleasure.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.