Maiden Lane—Book 4
By Elizabeth Hoyt
Publisher: Grand CentralRelease Date: June 26, 2012
Warning—this review contains spoilers.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again as it bears repeating—Elizabeth Hoyt writes some of the best historical romance that I’ve ever read. She has a killer knack for bringing together the people within the seedy, gritty parts of
and the aristocracy of the glittering ballrooms in a perfectly believable way.
It’s no wonder she has quickly become a fan favorite. London
With Thief of Shadows, we finally get Winter’s story! He first made his appearance in book one of Hoyt’s
series, Wicked Intentions, where he
instantly captured my attention as the manager of the Home for Unfortunate
Infants and Foundling Children located in St. Giles. I knew then that there was
more to this man. At the end of the previous book, Scandalous Desires, readers discovered that Winter is the infamous
Ghost of St. Giles and was injured while helping river pirate Mickey O’Connor
escape the gallows. Thief of Shadows
begins with the widowed Lady Isabel Beckinhall saving the Ghost from the mob of
people looking for him. She and her servants tend his wounds and give him a
temporary refuge, but by the next morning he is gone.
By day, Winter manages and teaches at the home. By night, he rescues those who cannot save themselves—innocent children orphaned on the streets of St. Giles. He is completely and wholly dedicated to both parts of his life. When his ability in managing and representing the home is questioned by one of the patronesses of the Ladies’ Syndicate, Isabel is tasked with tutoring him in the ways of the ton in order to give the home a good image with the aristocracy. Winter immediately rejects Isabel’s offer, but the lady is persistent and eventually he sees the importance of it. During their lessons, Isabel can’t help but push the dour schoolmaster’s buttons.
Isabel made a disappointed moue and was rewarded with the firming of Mr. Makepeace’s lips. It was too bad of her, really, but for some reason it amused her to no end to poke at this man. To subtly taunt and prod. He was so stiff, so utterly self-contained. Perhaps he simply had no emotions to restrain, but she didn’t think so. No, Isabel knew deep in her heart that there was a volcano somewhere under that granite shell. And if it ever blew, she wanted to be there to witness the explosion.
Isabel learns that Winter is a God-fearing man, and even goes as far as to call him priestly. As their lessons continue, it doesn’t take her long to learn that he has zero experience with women. (Yes, our Winter is a virgin!) Isabel enjoys the blunt conversations she has with him as they don’t mince words. She also likes how she feels when she’s with him.
He spoke to her as an equal, as if her rank and his position simply didn’t matter. But it was more than that. Many men considered women either ethereal beings to be placed on a pedestal or childlike and unable to hold logical thought. Winter talked to her as if she were as intelligent as he. As if she would be interested in some of the same things that engaged him. As if he might want to know what she thought about. He talked to her as if she mattered.
And considering it now, she realized no one had ever been curious about her, Isabel the woman. She had been wife and daughter, lover and witty society lady. But no one had ever looked beneath those masks to find out what the woman who wore them really thought.
Was it so terrible to want to be closer to a man who saw her as a person?
Winter relishes his time spent with Isabel and tries to not let his feelings overshadow his mission. When he discovers that someone—an aristocrat, at that—is snatching little girls off the streets for nefarious reasons, Winter is determined to do whatever it takes to stop them...by whatever means possible.
Winter is a truly remarkable hero. He comes across as rigid and constrained, but for a very good reason. He made a vow and he is determined to see it through. He is honest, protective, and loyal to the bone. I dare anyone to read this book and not fall in love with him. He is that special. As he puts it, he is a pit of darkness. The overwhelming darkness makes him feel unworthy to shine, so it takes someone of Isabel’s caliber to show him the light. She is witty, confident, and gives as good as she gets. But she has her own secrets that she is resolved to keep. Their exchanges are charged and filled with tension and when Isabel and Winter finally get together, they thoroughly heat up the pages. The love scenes are sexy and quite beautifully written.
Hoyt brings back beloved secondary characters from the previous books to set up the next installment in the series and, like always, I cannot wait for it. Thief of Shadows is an extraordinary book and another keeper from Hoyt. I highly recommend it!