Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #12)
Released: October 17, 2017
Reviewed by Mandi
If you are current with this series, you know all about the Lords of Chaos and their dark, horrible, abusive ways. If you are new or not up to date with this series, you can easily read this one as a stand alone. The Lords of Chaos are a clandestine group of men, who wear masks and torture, rape, kill and abuse women and children. They are after power and money – and obviously other things as well. This group has been the “villain” for a couple of books now, and it all comes to a dramatic climax in Duke of Desire.
Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore unfortunately knows all too well what the Lords of Chaos can do. His father was once their leader. He was initiated at the tender age of twelve. Unspeakable acts were done to him which changed his life forever. Althogh he was initiated, he didn’t join this ugly group. Instead, he found himself going to Corsica to stay with family and mature into an adult. Now with his father dead and Raphael inheriting the title, he is back in England, surly and scarred. No one knows how he got the scar that runs down the side of his face but people fear him. He is cold and a recluse. He lives in a dark abbey surrounded by his Corsican servants, and one thing on his mind – to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and bring them down. To murder their leader and end all of their horrible acts. He joins them undercover and is just getting them to trust him, when they kidnap our heroine Lady Iris Jordan, who was returning from a wedding. Raphael had met Iris once before and never forgot her. Pretending he wants to kill her, he whisks her away to his carriage, promising the other men that he will follow through and murder her himself (although obviously secretly getting her to safety) Iris thinks he really is a bad guy, and finds a pistol in the carriage and shoots him! I do love when a heroine shoots the hero. Well done, Iris.
Once on the road, she realizes he is actually saving her – oopsie – and they rush to now save him and his bleeding shoulder wound. Knowing the Lords will be after Iris, and knowing he is badly injured, he makes Iris marry him that night, to make sure she has his protection, and the trust of his loyal Corsican servants (who are fighters). Iris, who had been kidnapped, told she would burn to death, and then kidnapped again, can barely think straight, and agrees to the marriage.
From here, these two get to know one another. Raphael is a complicated man. Since his father was so evil, he feels like he has his father’s evil blood running through his veins. Iris sparks interest in him – as she is not a wilting flower. She is mature, and sure of herself, and can handle herself in a crisis. He enjoys arguing with her and conversing with her and knows that his body, even with his scar, turns her on. But the thought of sullying her with his tainted blood makes him try to avoid anything physical with her. Iris won’t have it. She longs for companionship after her previous elderly husband died. She wants to understand Raphael and his dark past. She wants to stand beside him in their marriage. She also really wants to explore his cock. (hey – those were her words).
As I said, the Lords of Chaos add a very dark undertone to this book. It has Hoyt’s usual steaminess in the romance department, with great sexual tension. Raphael has a raspy voice, and is cold nature leads to some very passionate kisses – and beyond.
“God’s blood, woman, how much control do you think I have?” he whispered, his clove-scented breath brushing her face. “You must think me a saint by the way you harangue me despite my warnings. Listen and listen well: I am no saint.”
“But I don’t need a saint,” she breathed, her voice trembling. “I don’t want a saint. I want you.”
“God forgive me,” he snarled, and pulled her to his mouth.
Iris is eager to explore her new husband, and pry into his past. But his past is very dark too. I feel like the subject matter was handled well, and Hoyt didn’t hold back to show just how horrible the acts were.
Marriage of convenience? Check. Beauty and the beast trope? Check. Adventure and a sexy romance? Check.
Really enjoyed this one