Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Serpent Prince

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt 1023

Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life in Maiden Hill, being courted by the local vicar, friendly with all the locals, and living with her father, Captain Craddock- Hayes, and her grumpy man of all work, Hedge. Viscount Simon Iddlesleigh vowed revenge against his brother, Ethan's, killers after a group forced him to issue a challenge to a man more skilled them him and he was killed. He has already successfully killed two of them when they find him first and leave him for dead in Maiden Hill and it is only with Lucy's skillful nursing that he survives. He imagines her as an avenging angel come to save him and warn him away from his wicked plans and he wants her soothing touch and voice near him always. Lucy finds that the arrival of the suave man from the city is making her question the choices she has made and her supposed satisfaction with her life and she wonders if she is destined for something more. Simon feels that he is becoming more and more attached to Maiden Hill and the people in it so he heads back to London to finish his revenge plan and try to move on with his life.

Lucy tries to move on as well with her life but she cannot forget the brief glimpse into another life she was given with the arrival of Simon. When he finally realizes that he will not be able to get Lucy out of his mind he heads back to Maiden Hill and proposes and she accepts but there are still secrets about the motives behind Simon's actions. She gets along well with his family and even her own father grudgingly approves of the  marriage and while most aspects of their marriage work, there is still the problem of what Simon is is up to. While Lucy knows that what happened to Ethan was a tragedy and she understands why Simon feels he need to avenge his brother, she worries that he is slowly losing his soul, and perhaps his life, every time he fights another duel and takes another life. She tries to get him to see reason, but he is driven by a single purpose and when he discovers there was a master behind the plot to kill Ethan there is no stopping him. Lucy loves him but does not know if she can live her life under a cloud of revenge and Simon realizes that all that really matters is his love for Lucy and hers for him.

I love that Lucy was the content country miss who suddenly realized there was a whole other world out there for her and she was determined to make the most of her life, even if it meant bucking expectations without going completely off the deep end. She was kind and intelligent, in a very confident and practical way, and she cared for the people in her community. Simon was obsessed with revenge but the motives for it were explained and proved him to be a caring and responsible man with hints of honor because he was looking out for his family, including his sister-in-law and his niece. I wish there had been more to him though because while I could see why he would fall in love with Lucy, it seemed unbelievable that she would fall in love with him knowing so little. It was more like she was in love with the idea of a new life and something exciting than she was with Simon himself. I wish there had been more about their relationship progressing to love and them getting to know each other however I liked the longing that existed between them during the period when they were apart.

The one part of their relationship that was very well developed was their sexual relationship and the sex was scorching hot and both of them were confident sexual beings and it showed throughout the book. Eventually the book came to be more about the duels than the romance and that is when I really started just wanting it to be over. There was such a big to do about how what Simon was doing was bad for his soul and was going to lead to his downfall and wouldn't he please just stop. While I understood that murder is bad and it was obviously draining him, I felt like it was an attempt to put some sort of wedge in an otherwise very well suited couple who were getting along perhaps too well for a romance novel that still had 70 pages to go. The plot itself was certainly well integrated into the story because it really was the impetus for them getting together and was interwoven somewhat in the story, but it really did just overwhelm everything and it the book definitely came to be more about him getting revenge than about Lucy and Simon falling in love.

Rating: Excellent writing as usual but this book was not Hoyt's best work because the focus was off the romance and I got tired of the revenge and duels.

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