I love the Prince Trilogy and am, thus, willing to read anything Elizabeth Hoyt writes. Shamefully, I’ve fallen behind on the Maiden Lane series. And by “fallen behind” I mean this is the first one I’ve read, and it’s the fourth in the series. But if the rest of the series is like Thief of Shadows, then I need to pick up the first three ASAP!
Winter Makepeace is a stern, taciturn man. He’s the manager of an orphanage and runs it well, but has little time for social niceties. Unfortunately for him, his new patronesses want someone who can hobnob with the nobility to run the place. But he has a secret: at night he dons a Harlequin costume and roams the streets of St. Giles in order to protect its children. I now declare myself in favor of all historical romances featuring a superhero styled for that period.
Lady Isabel Beckinhall is a widow who both saved the Ghost of St. Giles one night and was elected to tutor Winter in fine manners. She prefers the bold Ghost, but soon finds that Winter has an unexpected sense of humor and can be tutored in flirtation. Fortunately Hoyt doesn’t tie herself in knots in order to make Isabel a virgin despite her marriage. Not only that, she’s had multiple lovers. Devoted-to-the-cause Winter is the virgin in the relationship.
I enjoyed the frankness of Isabel and Winter. As a widow, Isabel can be more bold than the usual young, virginal heroine. She knows what she wants and she knows how to go about getting it. Winter may be less experienced, but he’s the type to say exactly what he means. Hoyt never loses sight of the children either. Becoming involved with Winter means becoming involved with his orphanage. Plus, Isabel is taking care of a child as well and needs a little help finding her maternal instincts.
At the same time Isabel and Winter are falling in love, someone keeps kidnapping female orphans off the streets before the Ghost can reach them. He must find out who is taking the girls as free labor. But the mystery plot leads to one of Thief of Shadows‘ few missteps. A battle of manners is declared to determine who will manage the orphanage: Winter or his main suspect, Lord d’Arque. Winter doesn’t take the battle seriously, despite the fact he could be delivering his charges into the hands of an evil man. In the end he has a plan, but it feels like he should’ve made an effort.
Overall, I enjoyed Thief of Shadows and intend to pick up the rest of the series. The Georgian setting is a nice change of pace from all the Regencies, and Winter and Isabel are a terrific couple. Hoyt balances action and romance well and doesn’t shy from bold scenes like having a sword duel between the masked hero and his rival in the middle of an opera. Thief of Shadows has more than a touch of the comic to it, and I like that.
A MASKED MAN . . .
Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he’s the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles—protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.
A DANGEROUS WOMAN . . .
Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she’s asked to tutor the Home’s dour manager in the ways of society—flirtation, double entendres, and scandalous liaisons—Isabel can’t help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar—and his lips so tempting.
A PASSION NEITHER COULD DENY
During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything—the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.
Read an excerpt here.