Friday, December 13, 2013
Duke of Midnight
Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield, is but a child when he witnesses his parents being murdered in St. Giles. Now he rules Parliament and is a model of propriety in society, but in his secret life he is one of the Ghosts of St. Giles, protecting the people and secretly hunting for the person who murdered his parents. Artemis Greaves is a ladies companion for her spoiled, but naively sympathetic, cousin Penelope, because of a tragedy that left her brother wrongly accused of murder and locked up in Bedlam. One evening she is forced into St. Giles because of her cousin and when the two are accosted they are rescued by the Ghost and in the struggle, Artemis pulls Maximus' family ring off his finger. Maximus is trying to court the equally proper Lady Penelope, but once Artemis puts together all of the clues she recognizes Maximus as the ghost and decides to use this knowledge to help her brother, Apollo. She threatens to go to the police if Maximus doesn't help her brother escape.
Maximus is trapped, but he can't help but find himself drawn to the withdrawing young lady who hides in the back ground but has no problems blackmailing a Duke. He agrees to help her and she becomes companion to his sister so she can be closer to Apollo, but also means that she is much closer to him. Artemis wants to figure out why Maximus continues to go out, putting his life at risk and wonders what has happened to turn him into a cold and seemingly heartless man. But Artemis begins to melt Maximus and he finds himself thinking about more than just revenge and his parents' fate. Kisses and caresses turn into far more, but while Maximus knows he cannot live without her, Artemis knows she cannot live with him as his mistress, especially if he still plans to marry her cousin. Maximus is closer than ever to finding out who murdered his parents, and a clue reveals that Artemis' brother might know more than he is letting on. Even when confronting a murder, Maximus knows that what really matters is Artemis and finding a way to convince her that he is the one who needs to become worthy enough to earn her love.
Hoyt's ability to write likable, realistic, and three dimensional heroines remains unparalleled in my opinion. Artemis is a living, breathing woman with faults and hopes and love and fears and Hoyt does a fabulous job of drawing the reader in to Artemi' life and enabling the reader to truly feel like Artemis is a real person. Her love for her brother, her sense of duty to her cousin, her terror of her uncertain future with Maximus, her resilience in the face of a family tragedy, and her pride that carries her through some not so pleasant scenes with Maximus. Maximus' childhood has created a man who seems to have no emotions and he is quite chilly and unlikable for much of the book. His dedication to finding the person who killed his parents overshadows everything else in his life and it is only when he realizes he might lose Artemis, and thus any chance at happiness in his future, that he truly starts to change. He continues to remain stuck-up until very near the end.
Together Artemis and Maximus make a seemingly mismatched pair because she is so vibrant and alive and he is stuck inside a very chilly shell. I liked that with Artemis' help, Maximus began to change as he loosened up his necktie and moved beyond his prejudices and lost his stuffiness. He helped her find her brother and protected her from gossip mongers. It was an interesting relationship because I felt like throughout it, both of them realized Artemis was too good for Maximus, and he was trying to make it up to her. However, it wasn't until the very end that he finally made it up to her for good by proposing. There was lots of sex and as usual, Hoyt is one of the best historical romance writers out there for writing super hot sex scenes full of passion and love. The plot involving his parents death was engrossing and kept a great bit of mystery going throughout the whole book. While it took up a large portion of the book, I never felt like it took away from the romance of the story.
Rating: One of the best romance I've read in a very long time. A wonderful heroine and a tortured hero in a loving relationship,with an engrossing mystery.