Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ARC Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Series:     Maiden Lane #11
Pub. Date:Nov. 29, 2016
Publisher:Grand Central Pub.
Length:364 pages

In this eleventh installment of the Maiden Lane series, Elizabeth Hoyt seems to still be going strong. Of course, I have been reading this series all catawampus because I was late to the party. 

The heroine in Duke of Pleasure was quite unique... she is a street urchin masquerading as the Ghost of St. Giles, vigilante defender of the defenseless. As a relatively young woman, Alf had no problem disguising herself as a teenage boy by day, which helps her collect information and pass relatively unobserved through the streets of the downtrodden part of London. By night, Alf wields her rapiers and swords as she stalks her dangerous prey across the rooftops of the slums. When she finds herself fighting back to back with the Duke of Kyle one night, she finds herself stealing a kiss from the big brooding duke. Call it adrenaline or curiosity, but that kiss changes Alf's life. Alf was a bit of a tortured heroine, and my heart broke when she revealed the sad truth of her childhood. I loved that she didn't let her circumstances discourage her, as she was an independent and self-sufficient woman of the times (even if she had to dress as a boy to keep herself safe). As one of my friends would say, this chick had chutzpah. Her impish behavior and saucy attitude with the Duke were fun to follow. But I do have to say that I hate-hate-hated her name!  ALF! I had a very hard time not envisioning her as a hairy little alien with a big snoot. Gah!

Hugh Fitzroy, Duke of Kyle, is broody and formidable... and the result of a somewhat scandalous liaison. He has returned to London after being estranged from his late wife, and must become reacquainted with his sons who are having abandonment issues. Hugh is also carrying out the task of bringing down the debauched and dangerous Lords of Chaos, a sadistic group of evil men and pedophiles. After enlisting Alf's help (and discovering that she is a woman), Hugh becomes conflicted. His unhappy marriage that burned hot and fast before flaming out has left Hugh jaded and scared of his feelings, so he isn't quite sure what to do with the powerful attraction he has toward Alf. But Hugh was a really good guy, a good father, and loyal to his King and country. I liked that he had some life experience and wasn't a titled lord looking to get married for the first time.

These two characters were perfectly matched. Given Hugh's activities on behalf of the crown, Alf could not have fit into his lifestyle any better. I loved that he didn't really try to change her she was as a person, but allowed her to assist him with investigating the Lords of Chaos, and wasn't afraid to admit when she was the better person for the job. This was not a story of instalove, especially given that Alf was disguised as a boy for a good portion of the book. The flirtations and stolen intimacies were sprinkled in at the right times to keep you invested in the romance... and there was a good amount of smutty thoughts and inner monologue to let you know that the steamy bits would be good.

Because I haven't read the entire series yet, I can't say whether the Lords of Chaos have been a continuing theme. I did recognize the moniker, but I couldn't remember if it was from Book 1 or 10 (or both). I think this group makes for a good antagonist... they are easy to hate. The tenor of the series is also a bit darker than the norm for historical romance, which I like for the grit and suspense aspects. I also enjoyed the secondary characters in this installment. Hugh had his own team of men/soldiers that had his back for various reasons which helped boost his character because he was able to instill a sense of loyalty in his men (among other things). I thought that his children added an element of innocence, and I liked that Iris' character offered another female perspective without being catty or jealous. I have a feeling who the next romantic pairing will be and I am excited to see how that turns out!

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Grand Central Publishing.

About the Author

Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing "mesmerizing." She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

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WICKED INTENTIONS is now FREE for a limited time!

The ebook edition of WICKED INTENTIONS, the first book in Elizabeth Hoyt’s bestselling Maiden Lane series will be FREE from November 28 through December 12!  This is a great opportunity to introduce friends to the series! On December 13 the price returns to $5.99.

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