Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

Thief of Shadows (2012)
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grade: B
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: shy of hot
Source: NetGalley
Maiden Lane: (1) Wicked Intentions, (2) Notorious Pleasures, (3) Scandalous Desires

As the manager and head-honcho of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, Winter Makepeace has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Not everyone is so sure that he can handle it on his own and a certain patroness who has more money than sense is determined to see Winter gone.

Lady Isabel Beckinhall has been charged by one of the original patronesses of the Ladies’ Syndicate for the Benefit of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, to make Winter presentable to society. The children may have been moved to a new home after the old one burnt down, but they are still in dire need of funds and they don’t stand a chance of survival if Winter behaves in his usual dour and staid self to potential donors. In addition to their lessons, Isabel finds it her mission to stop Winter being usurped from his position as manager. As Isabel begins to teach Winter the art of making small talk and generally how to act in polite society, both find themselves drawn in a romance/seduction that neither anticipated or wanted.

If Isabel thought that Winter was bogged down by the work that the Home requires, she wouldn’t know the half of it. By night, Winter is the Ghost of St. Giles, an elusive man, viewed as protector by some and villain by others. His last major deed was to save Mickey O’Connor from a public hanging and now the authorities want the Ghost’s head more than ever. This is not a time to hide: a group is working in St. Giles to steal young girls for their labour and Winter is always a step behind when it comes to tracking them down. inter must be vigilant if he is to find these children without being captured and revealing his identity from an ever-curious Isabel …

For the first two Maiden Lane novels, I would never have guessed that Winter Makepeace, the quiet and well-mannered manager of the Home, was the Ghost of St. Giles. The signs are there in Scandalous Desires and it is properly confirmed in the last paragraph, but it isn’t until Thief of Shadows that we really find out first-hand what being the Ghost really means for Winter. This is a side of Winter that no one else, not even his siblings know about.

Winter was trained by the previous Ghost of St. Giles – the man who also founded the home, if I remember it right. Winter may have taken over, but the end of Thief of Shadows seems to suggest that there can be countless ‘Ghosts’ at any one time; another of these is the subject of the next book in the series, Lord of Darkness. I don’t remember much about Godric St. John (hero of Lord of Darkness) in the previous books in the series, but the synopsis that I’ve read sounds great. Plus, the cover is beautiful; definitely on my to-be-read list.

Virginal heroes are few and far between, but Winter is one of them. He’s remained chaste for all of his twenty-six years, devoting himself to his position as manager of the Home as well as his duty as the Ghost. He has never had time for women– except his sisters and all the Marys (all children at the home being named Mary or Joseph) – until Isabel, that is. His induction into the sexual arts is both sweet and innocent and portrayed very well indeed.

This was a good book, but not as good as Scandalous Desires, IMO. The Winter we saw in the first three books was mostly devoid of emotion, or at least kept his feelings firmly suppressed. There were a few outbursts of unrestrained anger in Scandalous Desires which hinted at his other identity and it was refreshing to see Winter being something other than blandly neutral and boringly rule-abiding. His role as the Ghost has meant that he has trained himself to feel hardly anything, and so to watch his heart open up and develop feelings for Isabel was sweet to watch.

I didn’t really think much of Isabel as a heroine. I admit that it was pretty funny to watch her give Winter lessons on behaviour and then later seduce him, but other than that, I didn’t find much to connect with her.

I would like to see a book featuring Asa Makepeace as the hero. He’s the middle Makepeace brother and the black sheep of the family, and appears in Scandalous Desires when Silence is in danger. No one is really aware of what his business ventures entail, and he is often un-contactable for long periods of time. I have the feeling that he would make a great Hoyt hero.

This was a solid read. Nothing monumental or life-changing; just good. A steady addition to the series and it was satisfying to see Winter get his HEA after being alone and lonely for such a long time. You could get away with just reading this review and not reading the book, but it’s not something that I would recommend. 

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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