Review: Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

13064395Here’s a summary from Goodreads:

WHEN A MASKED MAN . . .

Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe—and won’t back down . . .

MEETS HIS MATCH . . .

Artemis Greaves toils as a lady’s companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She’s even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . .

DESIRE IGNITES A DANGEROUS PASSION

Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn’t without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?

I’m having mixed feelings about this book. I really, really wanted to love it but as it turns out, I just really like it a lot. This might be a bit overly dramatic but for me this means unfulfilled expectations. But don’t get me wrong, Elizabeth Hoyt still writes some of the best historical romances I’ve read, this book included.

The trajectory of the story with the mystery and the romance was well thought of. They felt organic and natural.  Maximus and Artemis falling in love with each other happened gradually, just the way I liked it. There was no instant attraction, although there was that distinct fascination with each other. I know that their different social stations is as usual trope as they come but Hoyt has this ability to make you see beyond that trope and know that what these two characters are experiencing are their own and no one else’s.

Maximus and Artemis were well fleshed out characters. By the time I had finished the book, I know them already. Maximus with his desire to find his parents’ killers and bring him his own brand of justice and the loyalty that his dukedom demands of him in order to honor his father’s memory clashing with his growing feelings for Artemis is a hero that I rooted for. Artemis is really such a strong character. When I first read the summary and found out that she actually blackmailed Maximus into freeing her brother from Bedlam, I started rooting for her as well. I appreciate that even though there were times when she would be wishing for the good times of the past again, she still has courage and motivation to continue forward and carry on. And I loved the moments when she goes for something she wants, for herself and not because others have pushed her or her circumstances do not allow them. And then she revels in it, in her ability and triumph in being able to make that choice.

What I enjoy reading in Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series is that she shows us another part of London at that time. The characters and the story are not limited to the confines of the ballroom or the happenings of the ton, although there were a few instances in those settings. But she shows us the less fortunate parts of London, such as St. Giles, where our hero, Maximus, battles his demons, physical and emotional both, and Bedlam, which was mentioned in passing in some of the novels I’ve read but never really explored as a place as it was in this book. There’s just something about these alternative settings, so to speak, that contribute or lend something extra to the characters depth and overall disposition.

Also, Hoyt writes the most amazing tales that she incorporates in her novels. This book features the Legend of the Herla King. Their beautiful in and of themselves but she weaves them in the plot and it’s sort of a meta play on what is happening with the characters.

My only issue with this book, I guess, is that for some reason, I felt like there were lagging parts in there. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because it didn’t quite live up to my expectations of a tension-filled and fast-paced plot or it is just weird-o-me. I know that the writing is tight and Hoyt gives us great characters but I still have the feeling that something was missing.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop me from admiring Hoyt as a writer or reading whatever she publishes next in the future. I actually look forward to where she plans to take this series. I’m guessing there’s a book somewhere in the future with Apollo, Artemis’ brother, as the main character. Maximus’ younger sister, Phoebe, also has a potential to become a heroine herself.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Duke of Midnight came out October 15, 2013. Check Elizabeth Hoyt’s website for more information about her Maiden Lane series as well as her fantastic The Princes Trilogy.

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