Best-selling author Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series are enchanting, historical romances with a heavy bite of darkness and intrigue. In the series, Hoyt layers bigger story arcs within her HEA romances.
The series take place in Georgian England, but not just within the world of the glittering ton; she also places her books in seedier areas. We aren’t given larger then life beautiful characters, but everyday people with real problems. And not everyone is guaranteed a happy ending—her characters are given hard choices and often have to make even harder decisions. Decisions that may result in their happily ever after or may leave them lost and alone.
The romance between our heroes and heroines is delicious and quite risque. Hoyt does a fabulous job of imparting sensual love scenes without having to describe every single detail.
Wicked Intentions, the first book in the series, introduces us to Temperance Dew and Lazarus Huntington, the Lord Claire. Temperance is a widow who runs a foundling home with her brother Winter in the slums of St. Giles. When Lord Claire’s mistress is brutally murdered, he goes into St. Giles in hopes of unmasking the murderer but is unable to to get the information he needs. When he runs into Temperance, who is searching for a missing child, he strikes a deal with her: If she acts as his guide through the slums he will pay some of the foundling home’s debts and help her procure a much needed benefactor.
As Temperance and Lazarus journey to the depraved soul of St. Giles, they also struggle with the unwanted yet powerful attraction between them. Both Temperance and Lazarus have demons in their pasts that inhibit their true emotions but as they get to know one another, their layers peel away to reveal two passionate souls ready to be loved and forgiven for their perceived transgressions.
“You’ve used me to punish yourself, haven’t you?”
He watched dawning realization spread over her face, a confirmation more positive than anything she could ever say, and that arrow twisted deep in his chest. Yet still he had to ask the last question.
“Am I anything to you but a punishment?”
In Notorious Pleasures, the second book of the series, the perfect Lady Hero Batten (from Wicked Intentions) meets the incorrigible rake Griffin Remmington, the Lord Reading. Lady Hero is engaged to be married to Griffin’s older brother, the Marquis of Mandeville, and that suits Griffin just fine. To him, Hero is a goody two shoes with her many charities and impeccable manners and to Hero, Griffin is nothing more than a debauched man who’s squandered his life away. The families come into contact as Hero’s brother is trying to shut down the gin distillers, and Hero realizes that Griffin is one of those whom her brother wants to destroy. As Hero and Griffin fight their attraction to one another, Hero begins to see that Griffin is not the man society has branded him, and tries not to fall in love.
Griffin has always lived in his older brother’s shadow; Thomas is the good one, the smarter one. Griffin let society dictate to him what he would become, but meeting Hero has him striving to be a better man for her—even when he knows she can never be his. As these two star-crossed lovers fight for their love, the world encroaches and threatens to tear them apart forever.
“You say my name like a lover, so soft, so sweet. I want to lick the word from your lips, sip the exhaled breath from your mouth. I want to possess you utterly. Right now. Right here.”
Scandalous Desires, the third book of the series (set to release on October 1), gives us the much anticipated story of Silence Hollingsbrook and “Charming” Mickey OConnor. In Wicked Intentions, Silence approaches the pirate Mickey and does the unthinkable to save her husband’s business and loses everything that mattered to her. In Notorious Pleasures, Silence now lives and works at the Foundling Home with Winter. She finds a baby on the doorstep and decides to raise her as her own. Throughout the book, Silence finds little gifts on her doorstep for her and the child. Fresh berries, pretty lace, a child’s toy. Silence fears the gifts.
Scandalous Desires (you can read the first chapter on Ms. Hoyt’s website) starts out with Silence’s young charge being kidnapped by Mickey. As Silence storms Mickey’s hideout, she realises that the little girl belongs to Mickey and he will not give her back. Mickey claims they are all in danger and only he can keep them safe. Silence once again has to make a hard choice. Does she leave the little girl or throw away the rest of her respect and pride and stay with Mickey until the danger has passed? What Silence doesn’t realize though is that Mickey has no intention of letting her go. Ever.
I recommend this series whole-heartedly to any fan of this genre that likes danger, suspense, and heroes and heroines having to work for their happily ever afters. I also advise starting at the beginning. While each can be read as a standalone, the characters and their lives bleed over into each new installment.