Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Lady Hero Batten Is a very proper young lady who follows the dictates of society, including her engagement to the Marquess of Mandeville, who is equally staid and proper. She is not prepared for meeting Mandeville's brother, Griffin, Lord Reading, who is everything his brother is not and makes Hero feel more alive than she has ever felt before. Their first meeting is inauspicious to say the least as she discovers him engaged with another woman and it is not long before she is informed that he had an affair with Mandeville's first wife. She is working on restoring a home for orphaned children in St. Giles, and when Griffin sees his brother's far too perfect fiance carousing around in the seedy part of town, he appoints himself her protector and accompanies her on her errands. It is not long before he is helping her work through the problems that have arisen on the new building site, and Hero begins to look at Griffin as more than just a degenerate rake. But when she discovers that he is one of the notorious gin distillers of London, who have been blamed for all the ills in the town, everything she had started to feel for him threatens to abandon her.
Griffin knows that Hero is so much more than the perfect lady she presents to the ton, but he cannot give up his gin still as it supports his entire family, even if his lordly brother refuses to acknowledge it. He becomes determined to make Hero lose her facade and he is quite successful as he proves that Hero's attraction for him can make her lose her head. Hero does not know what it is about Griffin that makes her lose control and part of her likes it; being with him makes her feel alive, like nothing she has ever felt before. With Hero's brother threatening to shut down all the gin distilleries in London, and a rival distiller using violence in an attempt to shut Griffin down, and Hero still unsure of how she will choose between him and his brother, Griffin only knows that he needs Hero. But she is not quite as sure as him and worried about what her brother will do and she worries about how her decision will affect her family and that her brother will go after Griffin unless she marries Mandeville. Things all come to a head when Mandeville discovers their relationship and her brother decides it is time to finally put a stop to the distillery. Hero is forced to confront her feelings for Griffin or face the possibility of living her life without him, and that is one thing neither of them could live with.
Elizabeth Hoyt is nearly always perfect in my experience and this book was no exception. She has a way of writing two wonderful characters I fall in love with, and who are perfect as they fall in love with each other. Hero presents herself as perfect and proper to the rest of the world and for the most part she is, except when it comes to Griffin. He gets her to open up, be more herself, take risks, and causes her to rethink what she has always expected out of her life. It is really only with him that she can reinvent herself and not worry that she will be judged or turned away. I love that she was sharp witted and could hold her own in conversations without being mean or overly harsh and judgmental. She had the correct amount of respect for her family and she obviously loved them, but she also went after what she wanted with Griffin- even if she couldn't admit it to herself. Griffin was also great and I really loved the way he blurred the line between being a rake and a romance hero. His introduction was a little icky as I am not a fan of heroes having sex with other women, and the fact that he ran a gin still was not very likable, but his interactions with Hero made all of it worth it. These two were the definition of characters who were good apart, but didn't really shine until they were put together.
Their relationship had it's ups and downs and I loved the angst and turmoil that her engagement to his brother caused as they felt guilty or jealous alternatively. One area they especially shined in was the bedroom and Hoyt completely outdid herself and made these characters light up between the sheets. The sex was HOT and STEAMY, very well written, loving and in character, and spread well throughout the book. There were so many side plots that went really well with the story because they directly involved the characters and didn't overwhelm anything. Especially wonderful were Hero's involvement with her brother and her younger sister who is going blind, and Griffin's relationship with his brother, which is strained and so tragic that I loved it. The gin distillery added an aura of dangerous-ness and blurred the line between right and wrong which I thought was a very brave move by Hoyt as gin really was quite awful in London at the time. And there was a little side romance between Mandeville and a completely inappropriate older woman that I absolutely loved because it made him into a human being and was so out of character for him. The book also set up the next novel in the series very well and it's definitely going to be a doozy and I can't wait to read it.
Rating: An amazing read from Hoyt as usual, but there were parts when I got a little short with Hero and her perfectness. And this book was quite close to perfect.