(Maiden Lane, #9)
Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian – 1741)
SHE’S TAKING CHARGE
Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother’s investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London’s premier pleasure garden, Harte’s Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can’t be controlled.
HE’S RUNNING THE SHOW
Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn’t have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden’s larger-than-life owner, he’s already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He’s not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.
BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL
In spite of her lack of theatrical experience-and her fiery clashes with Asa-Eve is determined to turn Harte’s Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There’s no denying the smoldering fire between them-and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.
This is the ninth book in the excellent Maiden Lane series and each time I marvel at Elizabeth Hoyt’s ability to make every book such an outstanding read.
At the age of nineteen, Asa was disowned and disinherited by his sanctimonious father for wanting to work at Harte’s Folly. Luckily he found a home with the kindly Sir Stanley Harte who was more like a father than his own father ever was. Even after his father’s death, he no longer feels he fits in with the rest of the family and rarely visits his brothers and sisters. Now owner and manager of Harte’s Folly, it has become the most important thing in his life, leaving no room for anything else.
It was his life’s work, his soul and heart.
The illegitimate daughter of a duke, Eve was raised in her father’s house but is constantly haunted by terrifying events from her childhood; events which have convinced her that she could never enjoy a normal relationship with a man.
She knew that she would never feel “nice” with a man.
It would never be beautiful for her.
She has never had any friends and the only people she really cares about are her half-brother, Valentine, to whom she owes so much, and her loyal servants.
Pairing the big, crude, hot-headed, virile Asa with the plain, prim, naïve Eve seems like a recipe for disaster but, once again, Ms Hoyt takes the most unlikely couple to create an unforgettable romance. The romance builds slowly with the inevitable clashes at first. Asa sees Eve as “one of those harbingers of doom that were always lurking about some hapless hero of classical myths”, and Eve regards Asa as “proud, bombastic and very, very annoying.” Gradually Asa becomes intrigued by Eve’s mixture of outspokenness, courage and vulnerability she tries so hard to hide. He’s certain that behind that cool exterior lies a passionate woman. Although she hates and fears Asa’s savage, unrestrained nature, he stirs an excitement in her and makes her feel alive for the first time.
I love Asa – such a larger than life character – and I soon discovered that, beneath that fierce exterior, he has many unexpected sides to him; to quote Eve – a lover of opera, fighter of highwaymen, saviour of stray dogs.
Despite her traumatic childhood experience which was truly terrifying, Eve still has an innocent inquisitiveness about sexual matters; one Asa is more than happy to satisfy in both words and deeds! This leads to some highly charged and explicit scenes, but ones which I feel are totally in keeping with Asa’s blatantly sexual nature.
He had no shame. No, more: he reveled in shamelessness.
I love their conversation about the castrato in which Asa’s words alone leave Eve “wide-eyed and breathless”. She wasn’t the only one left breathless!! When they first make love, Asa is so tender and considerate and his asking “May I?” before he removes each item of her clothing is so endearing. I also adore how he calls her “his little harpy” and would do anything to keep her safe, including murder.
A happy ending is never in doubt, but I love an author who can keep me on tenterhooks until the very last minute. I cheered Eve for not being willing to accept anything but a man who loved her above all else and there were frustrating moments when I wanted to knock some sense into Asa until he realises what is truly important to him.
As always in this series, the secondary characters play a major role in the story and I particularly like Eve’s friend and bodyguard, Jean-Marie. When Eve persuades Asa to visit his brothers and sisters, it’s an opportunity to catch up with many of the characters from the previous books, who certainly have their hands full when the family gathering doesn’t go exactly to plan!
We learn that Bridget Crumb, the Duke of Montgomery’s housekeeper, has an agenda of her own and there are also a few surprising revelations about the duke himself. The scene towards the end of the book certainly has me anticipating their story in Duke of Sin!
MY VERDICT: Another wonderful addition to this superb series and one which ranks among my other favourites, Scandalous Desires and Thief of Shadows. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALTY RATING: HOT!
Read November 2015
The Maiden Lane series so far (click the book cover for more details):
**I received a free copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. **