Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, illegitimate son of the King and newly widowed father of two young boys, is finally home after so many years abroad. Tasked with breaking open and bringing down the mysterious organization known as the Lords of Chaos, he is set upon one evening by a group of thugs and just when he thinks he might be overcome is saved by a whirlwind of flying fists and swords better known as the Ghost of St. Giles. But if he’s not mistaken, his savior is a woman.
Alf survived the wicked, cruel streets of London by living her life disguised as the opposite sex. Orphaned at a young age, she fell in with a dangerous crowd and her one friend in the world urged her to never left anyone know she was a woman. So she never has. To the world she is known as Alf, teenaged boy whose skills at retrieving information has been used time and again by certain members of the aristocracy, but by night she protects the vulnerable and defenseless as the Ghost of St. Giles. When she comes across Hugh being attacked by a street gang one evening she steps in and helps him fight them off. She’s not at all surprised when he calls on her in her Alf persona the very next day asking for her help in finding out if the Lords of Chaos were behind the attempt on his life.
I’ve long been a fan of the Maiden Lane series. Elizabeth Hoyt remains one of my few auto buy historical romance authors. I will admit that I was glad when the Ghost of St Giles plot thread was put to rest a few books ago and a new conflict arose with the Lords of Chaos. But it seems like the Ghost was only lying low until it could be revived by one tenacious, highly skilled young woman. Regardless, I was excited to finally be getting to know the mysterious Alf.
She and Hugh, despite their many differences in circumstances, backgrounds and stature in society, get on rather well pretty quickly. Granted Hugh doesn’t realize Alf is a woman for quite a while. She stays in his house, charms his young sons and helps in his search for information about the Lords of Chaos all while still keeping her identity a secret. Hugh has kissed the masked Ghost several times, but has no idea she and Alf are one and the same until Alf discovers him sleeping one evening and decides to steal a kiss. From that point on all bets are off, and Hugh feels this desperate need to discover everything there is to know about Alf.
Hugh is afraid to love again after the misery of his marriage to his late wife. Her numerous affairs resulted in late night screaming matches and Hugh ultimately staying away from his home for much of his son’s lives. But after her untimely death he has returned home with the full intention of regaining a relationship with his children. Romantic love has no place in his life and he feels like he can’t trust in his feelings or emotions. Alf, however, wants to experience all the sexual and romantic feelings Hugh has awoken inside her while she can. If she has any insecurities, it’s letting the world see her as a woman, but once she dons a dress and walks out into society as a female she is more than ready to take Hugh as her own. For as long as it can last anyway.
As with any Hoyt novel, the connection between the main characters is vibrant and believable. Hugh and Alf are well matched in all ways as both are honorable, brave and intelligent. Their chemistry sizzles the pages. They work well together in their shared goal of bringing about the downfall of the vile Lords of Chaos. I loved that both were equally heroic at the end. Hugh by sacrificing himself to save his son and Alf by leading the charge to rescue him.
I did kind of wonder how Lady Jordan’s POV fit in when she was first introduced. By the time I got to the end and discovered she would be the heroine of the next Maiden Lane novel and then went on to read the preview for Duke of Desire, I was positively intrigued. Who exactly is this Duke of Dyemore, Raphael de Chartres? Where has he been? Why is he so scarred? For some reason I got it into my head that he was Alf’s long-lost friend Ned. Her savior from so long ago. The childhood friend who urged her to disguise herself for her own protection. I could be wrong, I could be right, all I know is I’ve already put The Duke of Desire on my TBR list.
Eleven books in and the Maiden Lane series is still going strong. I believe Ms. Hoyt’s two releases this year, Duke of Sin and Duke of Pleasure, to be the best books in the series to date. This is one series that fans of historical romance should absolutely put on their must read lists. Final Grade- B+
She looked at him, his determined black eyes, his black bristly pirate’s face, his sinfully full lips, this man who was going to almost certain death for a son not of his blood.
She loved him.
She loved him and she was going to let him go.