really don’t know why I keep reading Elizabeth Hoyt’s books. They’re such wallpaper historicals, with modern-thinking characters running around in historical-looking costumes, everyone talking about how they totally, would do that, like, right? Because, I guess, historical research is hard and attempting to use the actual cadence and language structure of the period would be too difficult for modern readers to understand. Or something. So, the plot… There’s the hero, Lazarus (a.k.a. Lord Caire), who is a Lucius Malfoy clone, complete with prematurely white hair and a surly, cruel demeanor. He starts off the book with intentions to try and avenge his murdered mistress, Marie. Strangely, Caire’s revenge quest had no real motive that I could discern (he didn’t love or like her). But, anyway. Instead of hiring a sturdy guard or ex-soldier to help him navigate the seedy, unsafe neighborhood of St. Giles, where Marie lived, he hires…Temperance, a flighty and wide-eyed widow who owns an orphanage that is hemorrhaging money after the death of its wealthy benefactor. Caire promises to be her benefactor if she guides him through the neighborhood. Yes, it’s an excellent plan, by the way [/sarcasm]. It’s so excellent that they’re actually attacked several times by roaming thieves, who (correctly), perceive them to be rich, easy targets.
Anyway, the main characters have little actual development and depth. Temperance was stock romance heroine #9, the Shamefully Sensuous Widow™. She let her passions run away with her when she was married to her late husband, Benjamin, and she had an affair with some other random dude. She was actually having sex with the other random dude at the exact moment that her husband was…hit and killed by a runaway produce cart, I think. LOL, the unintentional hilarity. Anyway, this revelation is NEVER explored or commented upon in any detail except once, very late in the story. I was never sure why this was; it seemed like a pretty important detail. Like, once a cheater, always a cheater? Apparently, however, no one – not even the hero – cared, which I found a little odd.
The hero was also…just all right, whatever. He was gossiped about, by others, as being “depraved” and “perverted.” His perversion? A little, light, consensual bondage. Think handcuffs. That’s it. There’s so much angst and drama over the hero’s INSATIABLE, HORRIFIC depravities and, in the end, all he likes to do is tie up and blindfold his ladies. Um, okay, whatever blows your skirt up? Why is this a big deal? Trust me, people in the Georgian era did this, it was a valid kink, even then. Caire also has this weird thing about not being touched; it causes him physical pain to be touched by another human being. Again, like Temperance’s cheating, this is mentioned maybe once or twice, then never again. There was also never any reason given for this, which – what? Why include this detail if it’s never explained?
The writing was average; the story’s setting was unexceptional. I'd say this would be an okay beach read, if nothing else. Turn your brain off and (maybe) enjoy.