I’m not afraid to admit that this book wrecked me. I absolutely loved it, but my heart hurt for this couple so many times. Lord of Darkness is the fifth book in Elizabeth Hoyt’s much beloved Maiden Lane series and it was so very, very good.
Godric St. John spends his days as a cold, separated aristocrat still mourning the loss of his dearest love, his late wife. At night he comes alive as the Ghost of St. Giles, a masked avenger protecting the vulnerable in the worst part of London. Two years before he was blackmailed into marrying the sister of a lord. Margaret Reading is the sister of Griffin, the hero from Notorious Pleasures, when her lover is killed and she finds herself with child her brother gives her no choice but to marry Godric to protect her reputation. Godric only agrees with this solution to keep his secret hidden and because he believes Meggie doesn’t actually want a real marriage. He is still dedicated to his late wife and has no desire to ever look for love or companionship again. After the quick wedding Meggie miscarries her child and retreats to her new husband’s country home to mourn in peace.
After two years Meggie decides she wants a baby. She also wants to find out who murdered her lover so she can avenge him and finally move on with her life. To carry out both of these desires she must come to London. She arrives on Godric’s doorstep with no warning, and almost catches him in his Ghost attire. He is completely taken unawares and wants nothing more than for her to leave and take her companions with her back to the country. These two are very much strangers. Both wrapped up in their grief for their first loves and afraid to move on and forget. Their sorrow for these lost loved ones was so real I could feel it pouring off the page:
“I agreed to Griffin’s mad plan,” he rasped, his voice like gravel, “only because it was more than obvious that you would never have any interest in me or a real marriage.”
“But–” she said, realizing suddenly how this was going to end. She took a step forward, her hands reaching for him, fruitlessly clutching empty air in front of her.
“No.” The word was grimly final. “I haven’t lain with another woman since I married Clara, and I never intend to do so. I had my love. Anything else would be a parody of intimacy. So, no, Margaret, I am sorry, but I will not lie with you to make a baby.”
Both Godric and Meggie hold on so tightly to their heartache that at first I couldn’t see how they would find their way to each other. But they do. Godric is a cold man, but Meggie starts to open him up and he finds himself wanting to be with her and Meggie discovers that he is such an honorable, loyal man that she can’t help but be drawn to him too. When she realizes that he is the Ghost of St. Giles she also figures out that she’s been blaming the wrong person for her love’s death all these years. Godric agrees to help her on her quest to have a child if she will agree not to go looking for the killer herself. They both fight it tooth and nail, but they end up building a lovely intimacy and find in each other true friendship and love. Both are so afraid to love again, but once they come to the realization that they have fallen they are even more desperate to hold on:
For the first time in a very long time, he yearned to see tomorrow. Tomorrow and the day after that and the year after that. There was the possibility that with Megs he might have a life to look forward to. And because of that, tonight he was going to hunt down a man and assassinate him in cold blood. This act would damn his very soul but for Megs it was worth it.
For his Meggie he would walk the fires of hell.
Sometimes watching two characters find love for the second time is even better than reading about first love, because they know how precious it is and value it that much more. The mystery of finding the killer and searching for the people stealing girls off the streets was secondary to this couple’s journey in finding peace with each other.
It must be said that Elizabeth Hoyt has such a lush, beautiful way of writing that it draws a reader in and keeps them spellbound in her stories. I was unable to tear myself away from the page. The emotion, the sensual love scenes, the mystery, they all kept me engaged well into the night. Godric and his Meggie’s love story was so wonderfully told that Lord of Darkness has become my new favorite Hoyt novel. This is a must read for any historical romance fan. Final Grade: A+
“I love you Godric St. John, and now I’m breaking my word. I will not leave you. You may either come with me to Laurelwood or I’ll stay here with you in your musty old house in London and drive you mad with all my talking and relatives and … and exotic sexual positions until you break down and love me back, for I’m warning you that I’m not giving up until you love me and we’re a happy family with dozens of children.”
She paused at that point because she’d run out of breath and looked at him.
His face had gone still and for a moment her heart sank and she had to fortify herself for a battle.
But then his mouth quirked like that and he said, “Exotic sexual positions?”