This book surprised me. I read the excerpt and thought, “Oh look. Nice, predictable historical. Simple lass nurses wounded aristocrat, they fall in love and live HEA.” So, I wasn’t in a big tearing hurry to read it. Figured I’d get around to it eventually. Well, I finally picked it up. Holy crap. Was I ever WRONG.
This book was surprisingly unpredictable for me. I read it in a day (thank goodness for Spring Break or I’d be looking for a job now).
We have talked about Hoyt’s Prince trilogy quite a lot on TGTBTU. So much so, I only recently remembered I hadn’t yet read The Serpent Prince. So yesterday, once I realized I was getting a bit burned-out on paranormals and contemporaries, I picked The Serpent Prince out of the TBR pile/mountain for a nice change of pace.
Am I glad I did! If you haven’t read this book yet, do not let anyone stop you on the way to the bookstore. You must go buy it and read it. Right now. I’ll still be here when you’re done and you can share my gushing praise of this book. G’head. I’ll wait…
Are you back? Finished reading it yet? DIDN’T YOU LOVE IT?!
I don’t often get gushy over, well, anything. I like to think I’m too pragmatic for “gush.” You know – worldly older woman and all that. But this book blew me away.
For those of you who didn’t heed my purchasing advice, imagine a formulaic historical turned almost completely on its ear. What you thought would happen, doesn’t. How you thought a character should act, won’t. And the writing! Oh my goodness, the writing! I am soooo an author’s bitch if her/his writing is good.
Let me share a favorite passage with you. This is not long after the hero and heroine “meet” and they’re at dinner during Simon’s convelescence at Lucy’s house. At the table are Lucy, Simon, Simon’s young friend Christian Fletcher (who I hope we get to see in his own book soon), and Lucy’s father Captain Craddock-Hayes. The scene is being told from Simon’s POV, after Fletcher almost spilled some salacious beans about Simon:
Good God. “Surely that tale isn’t for a lady’s ears,” Simon hissed.
Christian flushed, his eyes widening. “I only–”
“But I enjoy hearing things not meant for my delicate ears,” Miss Craddock-Hayes said softly. Her gaze challenged him until he could almost hear her seductive siren’s call: Tell me. Tell me. Tell me who you truly are. “Will you not let Mr. Fletcher continue?”
But the protective papa stirred, saving him from further folly. “I think not, poppet. Leave the poor fellow be.”
His angel flushed, but her gaze did not waver, and Simon knew if he stayed here much longer, he would drown in those topaz eyes and bless the gods for his fortune even as he went down for the third time.
Holy crap. I could read that scene over and over. Especially now, knowing why he’s so tortured and, trust me, he’s legitimately tortured due to some really horrendous events and rumors. I especially love that last sentence. The book is chockablock with passages like that. Hoyt really outdid herself with TSP.
Simon is urbane, smooth, sophisticated, vulnerable, tortured, and driven by devils of his own making. He’s such a complex character that he’s perfectly paired with Lucy. Lucy is Simon’s opposite when it comes to the negative side of his nature. She’s intelligent, centered, calm, and pragmatic. Everything he needs to find and keep his soul again.
The ending made me cry, smile, cry again, sigh, smile some more, and sigh again. I loved this book. I might even have to read it again and I NEVER read books twice in a row. Just ask Syb. But the writing was just so damn good.
Do not miss this book! This and the other two Prince books, The Raven Prince and The Leopard Prince, are loosely related to each other thru some common chracters, but they’re all three standalone books. And TSP is the best of the lot. Best writing. Most truly drawn characters who stay true to their motivation throughout the book. If you follow the earlier link to the TGTBTU posts, there’s an old post from Hoyt explaining the fairytale Prince theme – it was the perfect touch in this book.
Damn. I’m gushing again.
From the back cover:
WHEN THE DEVIL MEETS AN ANGEL
Country bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man-a naked unconscious an-and loses her innocence forever.
HE CAN TAKE HER TO HEAVEN
Viscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he’s hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities-even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.
OR TO HELL
Charmed by Simon’s sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has-her love…
Read an excerpt.