DUKE OF SIN by Elizabeth Hoyt (May 31, 2016; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market; The Maiden Lane Series #10)
A MAN OF SIN
Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.
A WOMAN OF HONOR
Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery’s household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.
A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY THEM BOTH
Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can’t resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .
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About the Author:
Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.
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“I was told you had need of me, Your Grace,” she reminded him, folding her hands at her waist to hide the trembling that had begun again. She’d been in demand before this position. Duchesses and lionesses of society had wanted her.
“So practical,” he mused, tilting his golden head back to gaze, presumably, at the gaudy sky-blue velvet canopy of his bed. She’d always thought it rather vulgar, actually. “I suppose that would be considered a good thing in a housekeeper.”
“It’s generally considered so, Your Grace.”
“And yet, I find it somewhat…”—he raised his naked arm straight up above his head and twirled his hand as he thought—“irksome.”
“I am sorry, Your Grace,” Bridget said as pleasantly as she could, which, sadly, was not very.
“Oh, don’t be,” the duke murmured silkily. “One can’t help one’s nature, no matter how irritating it is to others.”
His azure eyes suddenly dropped to pin her, hard and merciless, and she lost her breath as she fell into his predator’s stare. It was like looking into the eyes of something inhuman, almost otherworldly. Her chest ached as she stared at him, the air still locked within her, but at the same time the place between her legs ached as well.
Then she inhaled, filling her lungs with sweet air, as he watched her still, his eyes half-lidded, and she felt an odd exhilaration, as if a gauntlet had been thrown down. As if they were adversaries, equal on the field.
Which was completely ridiculous.
Possibly she shouldn’t have indulged in that third cup of tea this morning.
“I wonder whom you work for, Mrs. Crumb?” he whispered.
“Why, for you, Your Grace,” she replied, holding his gaze.
She felt a bead of perspiration trail down her spine.
He strode, nude, to his desk, and, bending over it, afforded her a quite scandalous view of his muscular bottom. He seemed to have a dark mark of some kind on the left cheek. Good God, it looked like a tattoo. What—? “Why, Mrs. Crumb,” he drawled, and she snapped her gaze belatedly up to find that he’d turned back to her—damn it! “Were you ogling my arse?”
She opened her mouth and then wasn’t sure, exactly, what to say. Was he about to dismiss her or not? “I…I—”
“Ye-es?” He took one long stride toward her.
She was suddenly, overwhelmingly aware of what she’d until now successfully ignored: He. Was. Nude.
His shoulders were wide, his chest highlighted by pale-pink nipples drawn tight, with but a few curling golden hairs between. His torso narrowed in a perfect V to a slim waist and a shallow belly button. A thin line of slightly darker hair led to his genitals.
During his supposed absence Bridget had had plenty of time to study the life-size nude portrait of the duke hanging next to his bed. She’d long thought the dimensions of his manhood exaggerated.
They were not.
She hastily glanced up to find him standing far too close to her, a wicked smile playing about his mouth.
“Oh, Mrs. Crumb, such a look,” he murmured, his voice a deep purr, his bare chest brushing against her snowy white apron. “Why, I don’t know whether to guard my bollocks…”—his gaze dropped to her mouth—“or to kiss you.”
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars
“He was the Duke of Montgomery. He’d successfully blackmailed the king. He was about to blackmail himself a wife. No one loved him. And that was the way he liked it.”
With her Maiden Lane Series, set in Georgian London, Elizabeth Hoyt has created unforgettable characters and beautiful stories. I have read most of her books and enjoyed her smooth, elegant and sensual writing style. I confess I have a thing for Ms. Hoyt’s bad boys and Valentine Napier, the enigmatic Duke of Montgomery and hero of this story, is definitely one of them.
After his banishment to the Continent for kidnapping the Duke of Wakefield’s sister, Valentine Napier is back in town. In reality, he never left London and has been in hiding in the walls of his own house for months! As it happens, the walls were an excellent site to spy on his new housekeeper, Bridget Crumb, who obviously has something to hide.
Val and Bridget start an intriguing cat and mouse game. Bridget has her own agenda, she wants to help her birth mother, an aristocratic lady blackmailed by the Duke, and intends to find the letters he uses as hold over her. So, she is ready to outwit “The Prince of Schemes and Diabolical Plots”. It’s not an easy feat, though, or even safe, as the Duke can be dangerous.
“She ought to be afraid of him. He was a very bad man and she was completely under his power.”
Val is the most hated man in London, and wouldn’t have it any other way! Aside from being a blackmailer, he is irreverent and unconventional. I loved that there was so much more to him than the image of pure evil he likes to give of himself. He is a deeply broken soul, though. The emotional abuse he suffered as a child was heartbreaking. He was victim of his depraved father’s cruelty and his mother‘s hatred. Blackmail is always a means to an end for him. It gives him power, as a form of protection. He trusts no one, except his sister Eve.
Bridget and Val have apparently nothing in common. He is outrageous and libertine, she is very practical, proper and loyal. She loathes him, and can’t hide it, she constantly defies him. He finds this unpredictable opponent very refreshing. Their bickering arguments were delightful. I loved how their relationship progressed as the story unfolded and they slowly build trust with each other. Their sizzling chemistry was off the charts. I could feel their deep emotional involvement, as they fall hard for each other and Bridget gets to know the true Val, joyful, witty, bookish and adventurous. Above all else, she is determined to save Val from himself and his past, and there is hope that she will succeed.
“He looked at her and smiled that sweet little boy’s smile.”Do I need to kill anyone?”
This book was everything I hoped it would be: a dark and emotional journey into the mind of a compelling anti-hero and a thrilling love story. “Duke of Sin” is a great addition to the Maiden Lane series and I can’t wait for the ML novella that will be released in July. It can be read as a standalone, but I’m sure you will want to go back and read the previous installments in this series, including the first six ones, with the Ghost of Saint Giles.
Thanks for visiting and happy reading !
An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.