Pub Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Length: 384 pages
FTC: Purchased myself
Why it was in the TBR: Picked up at publication intending to read, then promptly forgot it.
This month's TBR Challenge theme is a series you're behind on. And since I'm always a book or three behind in the Maiden Lane series, I picked this one out of the digital TBR. I don't know why, but I always forget how truly awesome Elizabeth Hoyt is. I have yet to read a book of hers that I haven't at least liked. Every single book I've read is different. Hoyt does not repeat herself, and this one was one of her better ones.
Winter Makepeace is a somber, unassuming schoolmaster at an orphanage in one of the poorest parts of London. He's so boring, so very proper, that no one would suspect he leads a double life as a masked avenger for the poor and downtrodden called the Ghost of St. Giles. His lack of polish and deference to the aristocrats in charge of funding the orphanage soon causes his position to be endangered...until Lady Isabel offers to tutor the dour man on the fine art of polite society.
When she begins to tutor him, she finds that he doesn't need as much polish as she anticipated and that much of his rough manners were due to indifference rather than ignorance. She also discovers that Winter really is a principled man, almost too much of a do-gooder, and is puzzled by her increasing attraction to him.
There's been a bit of a fad lately with virgin heroes, but I was really impressed with the way that issue was handled here. Winter isn't the least bit ashamed or intimidated by his lack of experience, and Isabel isn't manipulating him into anything. The banter makes it clear that they are equals.
" I cannot believe you offer me the position in earnest, my lady. After all, I have already confessed my lack of credentials."
Any other man would've looked abashed to remind her of his inexperience. Mr. Makepeace, in contrast, seemed perfectly complacent, even self-assured. Somehow she knew he would take a love affair very seriously indeed. Once that pinpoint focus was engaged, he would throw himself body and soul into the liaison. Into the woman he decided to take as a lover.
I love that Hoyt's characters aren't all aristocrats. She's one of the few authors who can make me want to read early Georgian settings, too, because she does such a terrific job with atmosphere, the politics, the tone.
Winter is such a fantastic "still waters run deep" kind of hero. And Isabel is more than up for the challenge of dealing with him. I liked that she isn't an idiot where his secret identity is concerned. Hoyt steps neatly around that plot device by having Isabel suspicious early on. The plot gets a bit bogged down with all of the Ghost of St. Giles stuff at times, but otherwise, this is an engaging, fun, emotional read.
My Grade: A-
A MASKED MAN . . .
Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles-protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.
A DANGEROUS WOMAN . . .
Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society-flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons-Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar-and his lips so tempting.
A PASSION NEITHER COULD DENY
During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything-the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.