Pub: Grand Central/Hachette
Pub Date: November 2015
Length: 328 pages
FTC: Purchased myself
I'm afraid to say that I've beaten the reading slump that has plagued me for the last few years, but...I think I've finally beaten the damn thing!!! So I joined the TBR Challenge again, which I'm hoping doesn't jinx it. It's ok to sign up late if you want to join in!
I'm perpetually behind on the Maiden Lane series, despite the fact that I ALWAYS enjoy them. I'm not sure why this is, except to say that the books are usually quite emotionally draining, and I just can't glom them.Of course, of all of the books I've read so far, this one was my least favorite. Which still isn't all that bad, when the bar is set so high.
One thing that sets Hoyt's Maiden Lane series apart is that the books, while you do find the occasional aristocrat, are often filled with professional people. People who WORK (gasp!) People who are middle class. They're a little more earthy, a little less fantasy than the current crop of Regency/Georgian books in the last decade or so. This is set earlier in the Georgian era than most of them, too.
Eve Dinwoody, bastard daughter of the previous Duke of Montgomery, is pretty much your standard historical heroine on the surface. She's a bluestocking who eschews society and keeps to herself, thoroughly happy with her quiet life. Except that she's also acting as her brother's man of business in charge of keeping tracking of the Duke's recent investment in the rebuilding of a pleasure garden owned by the notorious Mr. Harte.
When Eve shows up to let Mr. Harte know she's withdrawing the duke's financial support, she gets talked into giving the project one last chance thanks to the quick thinking of Mr. Harte (aka Asa Makepeace). Against her better judgment, she becomes interested in the workings of the garden, and decides to tackle the accounting of the project herself as a challenge. Also a challenge is sharing a space with Asa Makepeace, who is all things male and takes up way too much space. Things begin to get dangerous, however, when it's clear someone is out to sabotage Harte's garden no matter who gets hurt.
I can't recall another book where the pleasure garden is the main setting. Really, where it's more than a minor scene. I really enjoyed the different aspects of the business itself. The singers, the band, the roof, the trees. None of that felt like it was info dumped, but it's clear quite a lot of research went into that aspect of the book.
Eve and Asa are both great characters, and the romance between the two is lovely, but this book did not wow me. It just seemed like it struggled to find cohesion. There were so many random directions to go, and the suspense element was never really suspenseful. I also felt like the story got a bit lost when there was so much backstory that was just thrown in there or referenced without any true explanation. My long breaks between novels didn't help, but I could not remember the details enough to fill in the blanks. It's technically stand alone, but there was more than one occasion where I felt like I was missing a big piece of the puzzle.
The bad guy was also pretty obvious to everyone As was the Duke of Montgomery's mysterious comings and goings. I'd have liked to have some real suspense we didn't see from miles and miles away.
My Grade: B-
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.Edited: to add FTC disclaimer
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.