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What sort of crazy, adventurous ride did I just fall off?! This was one heck of a book for my first read by Elizabeth Hoyt (I WILL get to her Princes Trilogy! Honest!). Let the Maiden Lane series begin!
Temperance Dews, a respectable commoner & widow and her brother Winter Makepeace run a floundering school & foundling home in the slum area of St.Giles, London. Temperance & Winter are the main caretakers of the institutions & also live there with their maidservant & twenty-eight foundling children. Lazarus Huntington (Lord Caire) is on a mission to hunt down his murdered mistress's killer & seeks Temperance out as a guide around St. Giles, for he needs someone highly knowledgeable of the St. Giles region. In exchange for her help, he offers to help her find a wealthy patron, for the struggling orphanage & school, by introducing her to his aristocratic circle. With their unusual bargain struck, a murderer mystery to solve, torturous secrets & sexual proclivities to deal with, this is, without a doubt, a highly engrossing novel!
Social niceties are dismissed early on (We never find out Lord Caire's title & Temperance does traipse around London with Lord Caire unchaperoned!), the story starts off darkly mysterious & gives off a gothic, film noir sort of vibe. Lord Caire is described to tortured perfection in this setting, & I love the picture Hoyt paints of him! I felt like I was being seduced by his mystery right along with Temperance! I don't usually find white hair in a hero attractive, but this did not phase me. Temperance also holds an air of mystery about her with her secret past!
With the plot, the book can feel a tad anachronistic & ridiculous to some, but that's the charm of it all! It's different! I loved it! There are also many subplots which set up for future books & she hooks us in quite skillfully with those (Silence! What were you thinking?!, but thanks for the future story!). This was a five-star read for me all the way through EXCEPT the last 30%...I felt the book was rushed towards the end & got a little confusing. The second last love scene was slightly random & felt plonked in just for the sake of the sex which was such a contrast to the emotional buildup of their initial love-making. I felt the same with the last love scene too..I just wasn't feeling it. I have no issues with Lord Caire's sexual preferences, I didn't feel like the lead up to these moments were in believable scenarios. The cause behind Lazarus's aversion to touch was never really addressed & were inconsistent & then resolved too quickly towards the end. I also didn't understand when Temperance developed an aversion to love, as she was such an advocate! I was under the impression, she was doing penance & being a martyr for her wanton nature & that was her only major issue (Did I miss something!?!, I was totally confused at one stage! Someone explain?). When we finally find out who the killer is, it comes across as flat & uninteresting when the whole book was leading up to this moment!
Despite these pitfalls, an aristocrat falling in love with a commoner, away from the glitterati of London, a slightly crazy, erotic, different & darker type of historical romance, strange names, mini fairytales, masked vigilantes & an adventure around the slums of London will make you come back for more of Maiden Lane & I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!
*Thank-you Elizabeth Hoyt, Netgalley & Grand Central Publishing for the free copy in exchange for a review.