Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #4)
June 26, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
I just had a love affair with Winter Makepeace. OK, so maybe the heroine actually won his heart, but he is definitely going on my fictional boyfriend list. I adore this series and have been eagerly anticipating this book, as we’ve had hints about Winter through the past few stories. This one did not disappoint.
By all accounts, Winter Makepeace is a serious, dour man who dresses in bland brown and spends every minute he has running the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children. Winter and his siblings bring in orphans off of the dangerous streets of St. Giles. But unknown to all, Winter spends his night as the masked Ghost of St. Giles. Most know the Ghost only as a whispered legend, but he does have a true physical form. Winter does what he can to keep children safe on the streets at night.
While he can fight and use a sword, he doesn’t incite violence, only choosing to fight to defend himself or a child. He has close calls, however, which is how he finds himself with a serious leg injury in the middle of the street with a mob closing in. He had just finished cutting down the river pirate Mickey (hero from previous book) as he was about to hang (he was innocent, of course!), and public opinion of the Ghost has turned sour.
Lucky for him, Lady Isabella Beckinhall is driving by in her carriage and, in a crazy moment of impulse, pulls him in and whisks him off to her house. She tends to his leg, but he doesn’t allow her to take off his mask.
Recently, the children’s home has been taken under the wing of some wealthy patronesses, and now Winter is able to move the orphanage into a much larger house. But with patronesses comes mingling with upper society. Winter must make a good impression on the upper class, so they will continue to support his home. And let’s just say Winter has a somewhat sarcastic, could-care-less attitude when it comes to the rich.
Isabella Beckinhall represents the Lady Syndicate that is supporting the home. A wealthy widow, she was chosen to give Winter social etiquette lessons, so he doesn’t do harm when he is forced to mingle with potential donors. Winter of course has no desire to engage in these lessons, but when he is threatened with removal from the home for being unfit to manage, he decides anything is worth going through to keep the home. Also alarming, word has reached Winter of “lassie snatchers,” and he is determined to figure out who is stealing children off the streets before he has a chance to get them to his home.
There is so much I like about this book. Since Isabella meets the Ghost right at the beginning of the book, she forms a little crush on him, not knowing he is really Winter. Meanwhile, Winter and Isabella butt heads. They’re both stubborn and like to nitpick each other. But slowly Isabella starts to see Winter as more than a man who dresses poorly and never has time for manners. And Winter sees Isabella as more than just a very wealthy flirt. But it’s done slowly, layer by layer.
“Who would’ve thought,” she murmured, “that the so-serious Mr. Makepeace would like adventure novels?”
He cocked his head. “Or that the frivolous Lady Beckinhall would prefer adventure novels to scandalous biographies?”
For a moment — only a moment — she dropped the facade and smiled at him almost shyly.
He smiled back, his heart beating in triple time.
Isabella must come to appreciate Winter devotion to his home. He has literally dedicated his entire life to these children (and being the Ghost), and that is something Isabella has a hard time comprehending. And while she does finally understand it, she also shows Winter that there is fun to be had in life. That you can let your guard down every now and then and the world won’t come to an end.
There are a few things that are wrapped up a bit too tidy. Isabella has a child living with her, and I would have liked to see a little more page time with her dealing with her emotional attachment to this child. Isabella also comes off cold at times.
I think Elizabeth Hoyt does a great job in making Winter Makepeace, a man who earlier in the series I would have never pictured as a romantic hero, very sexy. There is a small twist in regards to his love life that I really enjoyed and I’ll give you a hint:
Isabel bit her lip. “What are you doing here?”
He removed his tunic but didn’t bother looking up as he sat to take off his boots. “I want you to show me.”
“Show you what?”
He did look up at that, one boot in his hands, and his eyes bored straight into her woman’s soul. “Everything.”
This author writes amazing sex scenes. She builds them up so well, and then never disappoints once we get to the bedroom (or the carriage).
Who can resist an 18th-century superhero? Plain and boring by day, masked and dangerous at night make Winter Makepeace a very intriguing hero.
This review first appeared at USA Today’s HEA Blog.