Reviewed by Mandi
For those who like this series but are getting tired of the Ghost of St. Giles plot, this book is a refreshing change. I loved the Ghost of St. Giles when he was first introduced but I do think it was overplayed. In Darling Beast, we get a lovely hero and heroine. Well, the hero isn’t so lovely unless you like tortured, run-down heroes. And hey – I do!
Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne woke up years ago to blood on his hands and three of his friends murdered. Wrongly accused of being the murderer, Apollo was sent to Bedlam (prison) for four years. He barely survived the torture there, and nine months before release, was beaten so badly he lost the ability to speak. If you read the previous book, you know his sister who is married to a Duke, helped Apollo escape this horror. Now a wanted man, Apollo needs to flee London, but he needs money. Too proud to take it from his brother-in-law, he decides to recoup his investment in a theater that has recently burned down. This theater is owned by Asa Makepeace (oh I like those Makepeace boys) and Apollo is an extremely talented garden planner. So – Apollo starts to live/hide in the garden to build it again after the fire, and hopes no one will discover him. But then he meets Lily Stump.
Lily is a well known actress who often acted (and wrote) plays held in the theater that burned down. She was blacklisted by another theater owner so now that her home theater has burned down, it’s hard for her to get work. Asa is allowing her to live in the theater while repairs are being done with her son and maidservant. When her son discovers a “monster” in the garden, Lily is quite alarmed. As Apollo can’t speak it takes awhile for the two of them to trust each other. Lily feels for Apollo, at first thinking he might not be all there in the head, and soon realizing he is quite smart, just mute. She also has no idea that he has been in prison or wanted for murder.
I’m such a sucker for a tortured hero and Apollo – poor Apollo. He is this huge man, beaten down in life and wrongly accused. He is kind though, and a hard worker, and comes to love Lily so much. He is a protector and a man who doesn’t have anything left in life, yet still refuses charity. He adores his sister but still can be grouchy and cranky.
Lily is a hard worker too. Although left with not much after the fire, she perseveres and tries to give her son a good life. It’s her son who befriends Apollo first, dragging him back to the house time and time again. Lily is lovely and the way she falls for Apollo made me smile.
While I really liked both Apollo and Lily, I think the supporting characters stole the show. First we have Lady Phoebe and Captain James Trevillion – Lady Phoebe is blind and Trevillion has a severely injured leg and is her guide/bodyguard. Oh I love them already, even though they may not like each other at the moment. Their book is next and I’m very excited.
My favorite character was Valentine Napier, Duke of Montgomery. Oh this guy. He is sly, persistent, complicated and I really, really hope we see a lot more of him in the future. He is fun, evil and has a lot of secrets.
This can be read as a stand alone.