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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

*Sigh* A woman dressed as a boy who also happens to be a vigilante superhero in Georgian England and saves the life of the hero in the first few pages. Only Elizabeth Hoyt can pull that off!

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: November 29, 2016

Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king's secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley-and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.

Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she's the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation . . .

When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be-before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?

Alf gets her own story! She’s been present in several books in the series as a supporting character and always managed to leave an impression! And who better to be her match than Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle? The story opens up with Hugh being attacked in an alley only to be rescued by the notorious Ghost of St. Giles. Caught up in the fight, Hugh stumbles upon the Ghost’s secret: He’s not a he, he’s a she. Later, Hugh hires the equally notorious boy informant Alf to help him find out who is a member of the Lords of Chaos before they make their next move and in the process Hugh discovers that Alf isn’t a boy and that she’s the Ghost of St. Giles! Then things get super interesting because for the first time, Alf is questioning her decision to spend her life disguised as a boy.

You don’t just read a Maiden Lane novel, you immerse yourself in it, savor it, and when you’ve reached the final page, you mourn the ending even as you anticipate the next foray into Georgian England.

At least, that’s how my experiences go when it comes to this series. It’s like an out of body experience for me, my surroundings disappear and are replaced by the splendidly gritty world Hoyt crafts for her characters.

Alf has been around for years. In fact, she was just a child when she made her first appearance and fans have watched her grow and continue to survive by dressing as a boy. She's been one of my absolute favorite characters ever and she didn't disappoint as the heroine of her own story.

Hoyt managed to capture Alf's early innocence and merge it with a woman's mind and heart in order to show readers that Alf was an adult without taking away the personality traits that made readers fall in love with her in the first place. I just loved that SHE was the latest incarnation of The Ghost of St. Giles. Having a woman as the Ghost definitely took the plot in a whole new direction than previous books in the series. For once in the series it is a woman who is doing the saving and I couldn't think of anyone better than Alf to be that woman. She was a strong character that was capable of carrying a fair share of the action scenes on her dainty shoulders. Even when Hugh was in the scene with her, Alf could hold her own. She totally rocked.

And in a neat reversal (That I'm almost certain only Elizabeth Hoyt could pull off), Hugh was cast in the role of the character who needed saving and yet that didn't take away from his sheer masculinity or alpha male persona. I loved how Hugh confidently found a balance between his need to be the alpha male and trusting that Alf knew how to take care of herself. Yet for all his ducal title and duties, Hugh had more in common with Alf than people would. I loved how both he and Alf straddled the line between two very different halves of themselves because it brought out the best and sometimes worst in them as characters, making their relationship much more interesting. There was also a mutual respect between Hugh and Alf that put them on equal footing for the most part and added a partnership and friendship to the romance. All things I love to see in any romance to be honest.

It seems that with Duke of Pleasure, almost all of the original characters from the first few books have found their happy endings so that leaves a new crop of characters to get to know. Hoyt starts off by introducing Lady Jordan and Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore at a ball and it’s a very interesting scene. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for these two.

As with all of the Maiden Lane novels, there was a bit of suspense and action to go along with the red hot romance but Duke of Pleasure was a bit different because it is the first in which the heroine is an active part of all the fighting, sleuthing, and planning. There was a different rhythm to the story that captured my interest and kept it long after I had finished the last page. In other words, I had a major book hangover with this one. It took me days to be able to pick up and focus on another book because this one had such a hold on me.

Final Verdict: Elizabeth Hoyt is at the top of her game with the Maiden Lane series and Duke of Pleasure is a fine example of why that is. Her books are unique with their oddly charming characters, raw passion, and the presence of an old world superhero.

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