She’d never known anyone so alone.
Anyone so lonely.
The tenth book in the Maiden Lane series featuring the dastardly, vain Duke of Montgomery has been eagerly anticipated by this reader. I’m always a bit intrigued by the anti-hero and how an author will ultimately redeem him. Or if they can get me to believe their redemption and emotional connection to that one special person who makes them want to become better. There certainly hasn’t been a man who fits the role of anti-hero more than the Duke of Montgomery in my recent reading experiences within the historical romance genre. Fans of this series have followed his wicked, terrible deeds for the last several books and wondered just who would make such a man fall in love and change his ways. Well, I have an answer for you.. his housekeeper.
Mrs. Bridget Crumb has come to work for the Duke of Montgomery in order to find certain things for certain people who her employer has blackmailed. As Bridget, and pretty much anyone who has followed this series in any way, shape, or form knows, Valentine Napier is an awful, heartless human being who uses any information he can get his hands on in order to control members of the Ton. He lusts for power. He obtains people’s secrets and darkest sins and then moves those people around like pieces on a chess board to achieve goals only he can fathom. Currently, he has been forced out of the country after kidnapping a peer’s sister, and Bridget is using her time alone to get into places in the household she wouldn’t normally be able to. Like his bedchamber. Only Val isn’t out of the country, he’s been residing right inside the walls of his London townhouse and watching as his housekeeper has rifled through his desk and discovered secret compartments in his bed frame. Which is when he makes his appearance, and where Duke of Sin opens.
To say Bridget is Val’s opposite is an understatement; She is staid where he is frivolous, constant where he is changeable and good where he is bad. Bridget is a bastard who was left by her mother as an infant in the home of commoners and has been working since the age of twelve. She is so loyal to her mother that she is willing to enter into the lion’s den so that she may protect her. At first, I was wondering how in the world she would ever, ever transform such an unrepentant man. Val doesn’t care one bit what anyone thinks, never hides his wicked deeds and, in fact, revels in shocking his rather plain employee.
But then things slowly began to change.
The weird thing is, Val isn’t really the one who makes all the changes. He never becomes redeemed in full. Not really. Oh, he does fall in love and the looks into his childhood are shocking and definitely helped me understand his behavior as an adult, but even by the very end never becomes what many romance readers would call a true hero. Oh, he becomes a better man towards his beloved, but only for her. I still believe he doesn’t give a damn about anyone besides his sister and Bridget.
“This is who I am, Seraphine. Naked, with blade and blood. I am vengeance. I am hate. I am sin personified. Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villian.”
Bridget, however, morphs into this sexy, powerful, aggressive woman who lusts and loves the Duke of Montgomery. She repeatedly tries to talk him into being better, being good, but when he does the exact opposite time and again is the person who goes against him to right his wrongs. Yet, even seeing his very worst still stays and tries.
” I say it is wrong.” she placed her palm flat against his chest, the first time she’d ever voluntarily touched him outside the sickroom, and even through banyan, waistcoat, and shirt, her hand seemed to sear his skin. “Not the Bible, not the courts, not the Parliament, I say that it is wrong. Let Hippolyta royle go, give her a carriage and the footmen from Hermes House, and send her home. Do it now, Val, because you can be a better man than this.”
I believe this to be Elizabeth Hoyt’s most sensual novel to date. Valentine and Bridget have such a sexy relationship. And I absolutely loved it. If it had been anything less I may not have believed their connection because at his core Valentine is unabashedly sexual. I mean he never even hints at self-consciousness, not ever. He knows his worth and power, he completely understands his attractiveness to the other sex. My surprise was at how fully Bridget owned her sexuality. I expected her to be another heroine who shies away at that moment right before the first love scene but was so very happy when she did the exact opposite. No wonder Val was so fascinated by her. I was fascinated.
When I finally finished reading I kind of sat there for a moment lost in thought. I wondered if Val’s semi-redemption bothered me at all. I wondered how readers would take to his character. I even wondered how I felt about his never apologizing for all his misdeeds and actions toward others. In the end, I realized this story worked for me. Val and Bridget as a couple worked for me. Even Val’s not quite full redemption worked for me. I was engrossed from the first word right up until the last. Definitely recommend. Final Grade- B+/A-
He smiled into her eyes, aware that his cock pressed hard and hot against the placket of his breeches. Her hair had smelled of earth and her. He was almost loath to replace her essential scent with perfumes.
But she was freezing. He’d felt it in the ice of her fingers, in the chill of her cheeks. He wanted her warm.
He couldn’t let his burning angel’s fire go out.