Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Review: Thief of Shadows

Thief of Shadows
Maiden Lane Book #4
By Elizabeth Hoyt
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: June 26, 2012

Winter Makepeace is a man with a purpose. An puritanical, dour man whose spirit often seems as dark and devoid of pleasant ornamentation as the clothes he wears, he is focused on good works, specifically the responsibilities of a schoolmaster and the management of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, located in London's most notorious slum, which was founded by his late father. Only a select few know that Winter Makepeace has another identity.  Under cover of night, he wears a mask and the patchwork costume of a harlequin and wanders London’s most dangerous streets as the Ghost of St. Giles, armed to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from the evil that stalks them.

Lady Isabel Beckinhall most unexpectedly finds herself involved with both the Ghost and the manager of the Home. After Winter misses his appointment to tour the new orphanage with her as a representative of the Lady’s Syndicate for the Benefit of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, Isabel leaves the orphanage and happens upon the Ghost wounded and unconscious in the road with rioters and officials in pursuit of the man who cut Charming Mickey O’Connor down from the gallows. She rescues him, hides him from those who would harm him, and takes him to her home where she takes care of his injuries. Fascinated by the mysterious and disturbingly masculine Ghost, she is both relieved and disappointed when he is gone the next morning. When some members of the Lady’s Syndicate decide that Winter lacks the necessary polish to associate with the genteel company he will be required to associate with at the teas, balls, and musicales the Home’s new benefactresses will sponsor and that his gaucherie will reflect poorly on the benefactresses, Isabel somehow is charged with seeing that Winter acquires the necessary polish to maintain his position as manager of the Home.

Thrown together by these circumstances, Isabel and Winter are unprepared for the desire that leaves them all too conscious of one another. On the surface, the two have nothing in common. She is an aristocrat to her fingertips. He is the son of a brewer. She lives a life of wealth and privilege. He lives among the refuse of society. She is frivolous and flirtatious. He is serious and sober. She is experienced, He is virginal. Yet neither can deny the delight they find in their witty exchanges or the sensual connection that intensifies with each meeting.

But both Winter and Isabel are more than they seem. He is a creature divided, not just by his dual identities but also by the dark animal he senses within him that must be controlled with great care and released only to fight the battles that consume the Ghost. Isabel hides wounds she barely acknowledges even to herself, and she is more intelligent and compassionate that is willing to admit. I loved this passage:

It hardly mattered. She was tired of waiting for him to acknowledge who he was. Tired of donning a false mask of gaiety when she was so much more—felt so much more—beneath. No one had ever noticed her mask. No one but him. If he couldn’t or wouldn’t make the first move, then damn it, she would.

Hoyt once again weaves together the glittering world of Georgian aristocracy with the darkness of its hidden sins of omission and commission and gives the reader another unforgettable story of multifaceted characters shaped by their complex world but possessing hearts and souls that make them unique beings. She balances the grimness of a world where children are prey with a world where love can redeem and transform. I know of no other writer who possesses Hoyt’s gift for combining love scenes so hot they seem to scorch the pages—or melt the screen, as the case may be—with a rigorous morality of human responsibility. All this and she still manages moments that make me laugh.

I’ve been reading Hoyt since The Raven Prince, and I think each successive series has gained in complexity and power. Thief of Shadows is the best of an excellent series. I highly recommend it.  And Lord of Darkness in which the Ghost of St. Giles still roams is scheduled for release on February 26, 2012. Make a note of it. I know you don’t want to miss Godric St. John’s story. It's already on my book calendar.

Regency historicals remain the most popular, but Georgians have many devoted fans. I've enjoyed them since I first read Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades decades ago. Do you like Georgian romances? What is your favorite Georgian series?


Vanessa Kelly said...

Wonderful review, Janga. So many great historical romances out this week. As for Georgian romances...I was always fond of Heyer's. My favorite is probably The Talisman Ring. Very funny book.

Kathleen O said...

I have heard great things about his book.. Can't wait to read it..

Janga said...

Thanks, Vanessa. Yes, the number of wonderful romance novels being released today definitely makes it a Super Tuesday. Enough to wreck the book budget! :)

And I love The Talisman Ring too. It added "ventre à terre" to my vocabulary.

Janga said...

Kathleen, it deserves every great thing you've heard about it. I hope you enjoy it.

irisheyes said...

I didn't think I would like Winter's story until I read the excerpt so many months ago. Now I'm pretty much convinced that Hoyt is going to join a handful of authors on my autobuy list that just can't disappoint.

Pulling up your blog today was a very pleasant surprise! I had no idea that this title was released today. I'm going on vacation Friday and am going to make sure I add this to my beach reads. I already procured Bride of the High Country by Kaki Warner and now I need to add a contemporary to the list to even things out. I already downloaded Kathleen Eagle's The Last Good Man - mayble I'll just go with that one. I don't know about the rest of the family but so far my vacation is looking better and better with every book I add! :)

Janga said...

Irish, I hope you and your family have a terrific vacation. It sounds as if you have some great reading planned. If you're still lookinging for a contemporary to add, I loved Molly O'Keefe's Can't Buy Me Love. I also recommend Jill Shalvis's Lucky in Love.

Hoyt has been an autobuy for me since her Prince trilogy, but I was disappointed in the last one. I had problems with Mickey as a hero. However, I've been fascinated by Winter since the series began, and Thief of Shadows fulfilled every expectation. I think the next one is going to be extraordinary too.

The Romance Dish said...

Wonderful review, Janga! You nailed everything I loved about this book. Like you, I've been a Hoyt fan since the release of THE RAVEN PRINCE and while I like some of her books more than others, she has yet to disappoint me. THIEF OF SHADOWS is high on my list of Hoyt favorites!

PJ said...

Sorry, the Romance Dish comment was from PJ. Forgot to change my Google hats!

Janga said...

I knew it was you, PJ. I recognize your voice. :)

I think you've described what separates the authors we love best from all the others we read. We may like some of their books better than others, but every book has something to offer that makes us glad we read it. Hoyt is definiely on my list of authors who make me feel this way.