I love the direction this series is taking. I love that the Ghost of St. Giles is no more and it seems like the Duke of Montgomery is the new mystery to solve. I LOVED THIS COUPLE!
Sweetest Scoundrel is the ninth book in the Maiden Lane series and finally tells the story of Asa Makepeace. Yes, I said finally. Readers had to wait a while, but it was so worth it. Asa is the owner and manager of Harte’s Folly. He’s slowing rebuilding the burnt out theater house with the help of his garden designer Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne, (Darling Beast) and the deep pockets of the Duke of Montgomery. He’s rough and masculine and obsessed with his theater. There is nothing else more important in his life than Harte’s Folly… not women, not family, nothing. He will do anything to see it open again.
Eve Dinwoody is the sister of the Duke of Montgomery. After his terrible actions in Dearest Rogue, he has left for the continent and asked Eve to manage his investment in Harte’s Folly. Her brother is the only person in all her life who has ever really loved her and she will do anything he asks, even knowing the games and manipulations he plays with the ton. So after calling on the owner of Harte’s Folly multiple times with no answer, she decides to set out for the theater herself. Upon arrival, she completely takes Asa by surprise and in a rather intimate moment with his soprano. Which, of course, leads to some rather rude words between them and quickly leads to Asa scrambling after her when he realizes she’s about to cut the purse strings.
While the Duke of Montgomery is a brash, manipulative, bigger than life character who still remains a mystery, his sister is the exact opposite. She’s plain and frightened of so many things. She has a loyal friend and servant who was hired by her brother to stay close and offer protection. Other than the few members of her household she really has no outside friends, and due to a traumatic event in her past, no hope for a husband or family. The virile, rude Asa fascinates her at the same time he scares her just a bit. But she’s determined to find out why he’s wasting so much of her brother’s money and that means spending time with him.
I love an ordinary, smart heroine. Give me that over a great beauty anytime. Eve is quite plain and she’s very aware of that fact, but she’s also intelligent and talented. Her fears are perfectly understandable and it’s lovely watching her slowly lose her fear in small increments as she falls in love.
If ever a more perfect hero was written for a woman as terribly violated in her youth as Eve, I can’t remember it. Asa might be rude and at times too bold, but he is sweet when Eve needs sweet and gentle when she needs gentle. He can be violent in his protection of her when the situation calls for it, but eventually does convince our heroine that he won’t stop trying to protect her, even though she may be frightened. Their first love scene left me sighing. I was entranced and adored Ms. Hoyt for the way she brought this couple together. It was so beautiful.
The rebuilding of Harte’s Folly remains the ongoing series arc and it is once again under attack as accidents seem to befall our H/h at every turn. Now that it seems like that storyline is wrapped up I wonder if the redemption of the Duke of Montgomery is to be the new series arc. From the hints at the end of Sweetest Scoundrel, it looks like his story might possibly be up next, but damn, it will take a hell of a lot to redeem such a man. I’m thinking this might need to span several books. But on the other hand as Eve’s childhood horror story was revealed I did have the thought that maybe, just maybe. he’s not so bad and has had an over-reaching plan all along.
While I’ve long been a fan of the Maiden Lane series, I think this is my favorite of the last few releases. Final Grade- B+
Favorite Quote: (I have two today because I simply cannot choose.)
“Lily of the valley,” he murmured. “I’ll remember that scent forever now, and whenever I smell it again I’ll think of you, Eve Dinwoody. You’ll be haunting my tomorrows evermore.”
He watched her under half-closed eyes, his chest heaving. “You’re killing me, luv. Slaying me cut by beautiful cut. I’ll bleed away and die happy under you, Eve, my darling.”