Saturday, 14 March 2015

Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Midnight (2013) (Grand Central Publishing)
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grade: A
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own
Maiden Lane: (1) Wicked Intentions, (2) Notorious Pleasures, (3) Scandalous Desires, (4) Thief of Shadows, (5) Lord of Darkness, (6) Duke of Midnight
Romance RBC 2015: A book with a green cover 

Artemis Greaves, lady’s companion to her cousin, Penelope, is more than familiar with Penelope’s odd, whimsical and often outlandish requests. When a wager sees them lurking on the dangerous streets of St Giles after dark, they nearly lose their purses and lives – that is, until the Ghost of St Giles comes to their rescue. The Ghost roams London’s most dangerous streets after dark, ridding the city of its evil gin distilleries, pickpockets, murderers and their ilk. The Ghost leaves an impression on Artemis, as well as a ring which suggests he’s of noble birth …

It doesn’t take long for Artemis to connect the Ghost to Maximus, Duke of Wakefield, currently the object of Penelope’s undivided attention. With her twin brother Apollo wrongly imprisoned in Bedlam for three murders he didn’t commit, Artemis has no qualms about using her knowledge of the Duke’s secret identity to pressurise Maximus into setting Apollo free. As they are brought together under Penelope’s suit and Artemis’ increasingly desperate pleas for help, they learn first-hand just how tempting forbidden fruit can be …

Elizabeth Hoyt just gets better and better. I think Maiden Lane is the only ongoing historical romance series that I’m still following, and I never want it to stop. A lot of authors slowly lose their spark with each book, but it feels like Ms Hoyt has still yet to hit her stride. With a lot of series, I’m content with just reading them once and remembering the plot through subsequent books, but I’m sorely tempted with this series to buy them all just so I can read them over and over again. The phenomenal covers just add another layer of temptation to the mix.

Artemis is wonderful. She’s grateful to Penelope’s family for taking her in when she would have otherwise ended up on the streets. There had been enough money to send Apollo to school, but Artemis was left behind with her sick mother and mentally ill father. When they both died and Apollo was imprisoned, Artemis’ only choice was to accept a position as Penelope’s lady’s companion and retreat into the side lines for the rest of her life. She’s accepted the fact that once Penelope is married, her husband may have no use for a lady’s companion, and so she enjoys it while she can.  

Maximus has been saddled with the responsibility of the Dukedom since he was 14-years-old and witnessed his parents’ deaths in the streets of St Giles. His incarnation as the Ghost has been purely for selfish reasons: to find his parents killers, though he hasn’t hesitated to also wield his political clout in St Giles too. Maximus recognises that it’s time to do his duty to find a wife and produce heirs in order to carry on his father’s legacy, but approaches the task as one might buy a horse: having his valet produce a list of eligible young ladies and their desirable (and not so desirable) qualities. Maximus has no qualms about keeping his other identity a secret from his future wife, but Artemis is different. When he’s with her, he doesn’t need to pretend that he doesn’t have a secret persona, or worry about letting his other identity slip, because she’s already discovered it. For the first time, there’s someone waiting and worrying if he’ll come back in once piece and someone he can share the burden with. He knows that he can’t marry her and uses her family’s history of madness as a flimsy excuse (yet by the same rationale, he can still marry Penelope, her cousin …) yet he still selfishly takes her virginity and ruins her for other men (this element is super hot). I love the moment that Maximus realises that he can’t live without Artemis, though of course he needed a life-or-death situation to see it. Regardless, I think Maximus and Artemis have been my favourite couple so far.

Can Elizabeth Hoyt top Duke of Midnight? I know that I’ve said with each new book that it’s been my favourite, but I’m really exaggerating, however cliché it sounds. The next in the series features Apollo now that he’s escaped Bedlam, and book 8 is about Maximus’ youngest sister, Phoebe who is virtually blind, and Captain Trevillion who has made it a personal mission to track down the Ghost of St Giles – some beautiful irony. Personally, I think Apollo and Phoebe would have made a wonderful couple (Phoebe can’t see and after events in Duke of Midnight, Apollo has lost his voice) but we’ll see what the next three books (which is what has been published and is planned so far) have to offer. If you haven’t discovered the joy of Elizabeth Hoyt already, you need to see what you’re missing.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction. 

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