Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #12.5)
Released: November 14, 2017
Reviewed by Mandi
Fans of this series will be happy to see maidservant, Mary Whitsun, as our heroine. Raised in the orphanage on Maiden Lane, when Lady Caire wed (from book one, Wicked Intentions), Mary moved in with them and happily serves. She has a passion for reading and saves her wages for months to venture to the book store to select her next read. It’s there that a very strange thing happens – a gentleman swears she is Lady Cecelia, who was kidnapped along with her twin sister as babies. Joanna, the other sister, was returned, but Cecelia was never found. This man, Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, swears that Mary is Joanna’s twin.
The next day, the entire family comes calling to see what all the fuss is about. They declare Mary to be the missing Cecelia, and they welcome her into the family at once. This is all completely mind-boggling for Mary, as she was content in her little life. Now she is being moved to a grand house, fitted for a new wardrobe and the most shocking of all – she is betrothed. As a baby, her marriage was arranged to Henry! But when she went missing, his marriage then transferred to Joanna. But now Mary is back…and his family wants him wed.
While Henry would have done his duty and married the other sister, Joanna, he doesn’t romantically love her. But, Mary catches his eye and his heart. She is not only beautiful but fiery. While she very politely weaves her way through her new family, she has a passionate temper beneath that he loves. They share a love of books and have no problem conversing and debating. Henry feels like this match could really work. Mary, although not knowing Henry that well, is very physically attracted to him, and quickly comes to enjoy his company.
“I want to learn all of you. I want you to know me in return. When I next kiss you, I want you to welcome my lips like a lover instead of a stranger.”
She inhaled sharply. This was like a waking dream, for this man, this fascinating, handsome aristocrat to speak to her so bluntly.
“Do you want that as well?” He was in front of her now.
“Yes,” she said, opening her eyes to meet his gaze boldly. “Yes, I do.”
This is a novella, so it moves along quite quickly. Given the short amount of pages, we do get to know Henry and Mary quite well. I would have liked their romance to have played out longer. They have nice chemistry but Mary’s life is altered so much and so quickly, more pages devoted to her life-change would have been beneficial.
There is a small suspense plot as well. It’s a fun novella – especially for fans of this series. Once Upon a Christmas Eve comes out next month.