Saturday, May 28, 2016

Review: Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane, Book 10
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781455539093
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Elizabeth Hoyt Reading Order

Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.

Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery's household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.

Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can't resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear…

Valentine Napier – the utterly fabulous, scene-stealing, loose cannon Duke of Montgomery – finally meets his match in Duke of Sin! I had high hopes for Val’s story and Elizabeth Hoyt definitely did not disappoint.

Val has been a favorite character of mine ever since he was first introduced. He’s morally ambiguous at best, a villain at worst, and has wreaked havoc in the lives of past heroes and heroines more than once. In prior Maiden Lane books, he reminded me of Loki (as played by Tom Hiddleston) and I found the combination of intelligence, deviousness, and brief glimpses of humanity compelling. I was grateful to find that Duke of Sin, Ms. Hoyt doesn’t defang Val, but shows us what shaped his character, what drives him, and what makes him a hero worth rooting for without making him a different character. Val can be cold, certainly, and he’s most definitely calculating, but he’s not – as he believes – incapable of love. To start, it’s clear to readers that he does love his sister, even if he doesn’t recognize the emotion. Val’s life was shaped by a complete monster and his need for power, to control everything around him, stems from that. But he’s on a nasty path and it will take a very special heroine with a spine of steel to bring him back from the darkness. Bridget Crumb is exactly that heroine. Bridget has been raised to be a very proper, efficient housekeeper, but there’s something about Val that ruffles her feathers. She’s a case of still waters running deep, and the longer she’s around Val, the more her true nature comes to the surface. Bridget is smart, kind, sensual, and strong. She’s an endearing heroine in her own right, but when paired with Val she becomes downright fascinating.

Bridget and Val’s relationship is captivating. It develops naturally over the course of the story and it was wonderful to watch unfold. Val loves to be shocking and Bridget is initially cautious around him, but she’s never cowed. The banter between them is fantastic and positively crackles with energy. As each becomes intrigued by the other, desire begins to develop and they both start to change. The romance and character development are closely linked in Duke of Sin and this works phenomenally well, making the pages of the story fly by. Val and Bridget’s love story is by turns exciting, sensual, and emotional. These are two people who will never be average and it’s fitting that their romance isn’t either.

Duke of Sin is the tenth book in Ms. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, and if you don’t mind some spoilers, it can be read as a standalone. That being said, I think my investment in the book is higher because I’ve been intrigued by Val in previous stories. This book also delves further into the history of the villainous Lords of Chaos, a club that was first mentioned in the previous book, Sweetest Scoundrel. On a happier note, some past Maiden Lane heroes and heroines play small supporting roles in Val and Bridget’s story, and those moments are sure to delight Maiden Lane fans. Duke of Sin is a unique, engaging romance and I hated when real life intruded and forced me to put the book down. Val and Bridget are refreshingly original characters and I’m grateful that finding their happily ever after doesn’t change that. I loved their unconventional love story, and I can’t wait to read again and again and again.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.