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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Advanced Review: Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have another winner from Elizabeth Hoyt!! Who knew that such a bad man could be such a good lead character???

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: May 31, 2016

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 . . .

Each time I say “This one probably won’t be as good as the last” I’m proven wrong because Elizabeth Hoyt knows just how to up her game on each and every book!

So, the dastardly Duke of Montgomery is at it again. He’s one of the most hated men in London society all because he makes a game and art out of blackmailing the most powerful and influential people in order to get what he wants but the last thing he expects is his housekeeper and the uncanny calming effect she has on him. Even though he’s certain she’s only in his home to find something he has, Val can’t let her go.

Bridget Crumb is only inside the Duke’s home to help her mother, an aristocratic woman who has fallen prey to Val’s blackmail. Illegitimate and with nothing to lose, she gets involved with Val against her better judgment but at the same time she begins to learn that he isn’t quite the monster everyone says he is.

Longtime fans know who Valentine Napier is. The Duke of Montgomery has to be one of the most vile, depraved, and dangerous characters in the history of Historical Romance and yet Hoyt made him the hero of this book. Now, this author has an uncanny knack for creating odd yet likeable characters (i.e. they’re not classically beautiful/handsome) but arguably her biggest challenge was in taking the black hearted duke and showing him in a different light. A likable light.

Tall order anyone? Could Val be redeemed in the eyes of Hoyt’s faithful readers? If you’ve read the previous books then you probably shared my skepticism because this character was just awful. He wasn’t a physically threatening man; he was much worse, an intellectually threatening man, a blackmailer who cared nothing of people, only his wants and needs. I love a good villain-turned-hero romance but Val went beyond a rake and seducer, he loved and craved power and had stooped as low as anyone could go to get it. For heaven’s sake, no one liked him and most characters wanted him dead!

But like a true pro, Hoyt told an exciting, passionate story about a man everyone hated and the woman who brought out the little bit of good in him. Duke of Sin isn’t so much a tale of redemption because Val is just, well, he’s Val, there’s no redeeming someone who doesn’t want to be redeemed. But there is such a thing as dulling his sharp edges and curbing his lust for power. He wasn’t a good man when the story began but he certainly has been the most interesting one in the entire series. Showing him how to live a good, productive life was a long, hard uphill battle for the heroine Bridget Crumb.

I’m so glad that Hoyt didn’t make Bridget a virginal saint to combat Val’s darker personality; it would have bored me to tears to have some half-wit heroine who allowed Val to bully her. She was patient, kind and understanding but she wasn’t going to let Val frighten her either so she fought back with stubborn persistence, cool logic and later genuine affection. I loved how subtle she could be in order to keep Val from harming himself or others. She was a perfect match for him and she was a solid enough character to command the scenes in which she was the only main character present. In other words, she didn’t need Val in the same scene in order to come to life. Bridget, in her subtle but persistent way simply walked off the pages and became flesh and blood to me.

Duke of Sin was a bit darker than previous books but that was to be expected when Valentine Napier is the focus of the book. I found myself sneaking away constantly just so I could read a few pages in between some serious “Adulting” (Which I should get a medal for by the way). Val and Bridget had me hypnotized and every time I had to put the book down I felt like I was going to miss something important if I didn’t hurry back and continue reading. I just had to find out what was going to happen next and if Val would ever be able to love someone without having blackmail material on that person stored away.

Oh but I can’t forget the supporting cast of characters either! Previous characters such as the Duke and Duchess of Wakefield, Lord and Lady Caire and of course one of my longtime favorite characters from the series, Alf. The street urchin has clearly grown since that first appearance a few books ago but it’s clear that Alf’s days of running free and clear through the most dangerous parts of London are numbered. I can’t wait for that particular story.

Final Verdict: Valentine Napier is a character you love to hate to love. He’s as complex as he is addictive. Call me crazy but I may have developed a bit of a crush on the sneaky devil.

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