Hoyt’s Legend of the Four Soldiers ends circling back to the beginning a little with the St. Aubyn family. Emeline’s brother who has been thought dead for seven years has appeared in London. Reynaud’s arrival is a shock to many, including the uncle that took over his title. Those that have been waiting for the revelation of the traitor of the 28th Foot at Spinner’s Falls will get that story resolved as well as see the happy endings of all those of the series so far.
When Reynaud St. Aubyn interrupts a political tea in his father’s town house, he really doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s feverish and happy to have made it back to London after seven years of captivity among a tribe in North America. After several days of recovery, he comes to know the niece of his uncle, the new Earl, Beatrice Corning, who has been caring for him.
Beatrice has been fascinated by Reynaud for years. She’s started for many hours many nights at his portrait, painted just before he went to the colonies. The real man is much more fascinating, dark, mysterious and damaged from his captivity. He’s also driven to reach the goal he’s had for the last seven years, which is to do anything to regain all that he’s lost. His title, lands, money and family. Unfortunately his uncle is attempting to prove his insanity to keep the title.
Placed in the middle and forced to make a choice, Beatrice works for her own ends trying to get a bill passed that would provide for veterans. Reynaud tries to get Beatrice on his side so that he doesn’t look insane and he can regain his title. The traitor works to cover his tracks so he won’t hang for his decisions.
Beatrice is a sweet, strong heroine, but she never seemed fully fleshed out. She’s devoted her life to helping her uncle, but she doesn’t agree with his political leanings. She devotes quite a bit of time to her friend Jeremy, who came home from the war horribly scarred. She spends time with her friend Lottie, who has some troubles with her marriage, which disillusions Beatrices towards love and marriage. While there are many facets to her personality, as a character, she seems a bit flat.
Reynaud is about the same. He sets out to use Beatrice and claim her as his own, but there isn’t much emotion involved in either decision. His focus is on the goal of regaining his life and damn anyone who wants to get in his way. He does get drawn into the search for the traitor by Vale, but that feeds is ultimate goals rather than is something that he feels he should do.
The story does have some interesting points, but they are just blips on the radar that get a bit overwhelmed by the somewhat interesting, but unfortunately flat characters of Beatrice and Reynaud. The other thing is Hoyt’s use of a fairy tale to open each chapter. While somewhat entertaining and showing a different side to the characters, the fairy tale, in the end, just distracts from the story. From the excerpt at the end of the book, it appears Hoyt will continue the use of fairy tales in the next series. While a concept that sets her apart from other writers, the fairy tales are almost like a schtick and don’t help the main story as they did in Hoyt’s first series.
NOTHING IS MORE INTOXICATING-
Reynaud St. Aubyn has spent the last seven years in hellish captivity. Now half mad with fever he bursts into his ancestral home and demands his due. Can this wild-looking man truly be the last earl’s heir, thought murdered by Indians years ago?
Beatrice Corning, the niece of the present earl, is a proper English miss. But she has a secret: No real man has ever excited her more than the handsome youth in the portrait in her uncle’s home. Suddenly, that very man is here, in the flesh-and luring her into his bed.
THAN SURRENDERING TO A DEVIL.
Only Beatrice can see past Reynaud’s savagery to the noble man inside. For his part, Reynaud is drawn to this lovely lady, even as he is suspicious of her loyalty to her uncle. But can Beatrice’s love tame a man who will stop at nothing to regain his title-even if it means sacrificing her innocence?
Read an excerpt