Thief of Shadows
Grand Central / June 26, 2012 / $7.99
Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he’s the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles—protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.
Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she’s asked to tutor the Home’s dour manager in the ways of society—flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons—Isabel can’t help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar—and his lips so tempting.
During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything-the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.
Thief of Shadows is the fourth book in Elizabeth Hoyt’s wonderfully dark and seductively romantic Maiden Lane series. Dynamic characters and lush scenery transport us to a bygone era that both enchants and seduces the senses.
Set in the Georgian era, the series follows the Makepeaces, a family raised on strict moral values who operate a children’s home in the slums of London.
Winter Makepeace is the manager for the children’s home. His sister Temperance made it possible for the home to receive money from wealthy patronesses. But these same patronesses are now demanding that Winter polish up his social skills in order to keep his position as head of the home. Lady Isobel Beckinhall, a wealthy widow who fully enjoys the freedom that her station in life allows her, has volunteered to teach Winter the skills he needs to navigate the treacherous social arena that makes up London’s autocratic society.
"And how will you help me keep the house?”
She shrugged elegantly, though he noticed that she couldn’t quite conceal the tension in her face. Perhaps he wasn’t the only one concealing emotions. “I’ll tutor you in social manners, prove you can be as graceful as any popinjay Lady Penelope finds. It’s the only way to defeat her plans.”
He raised his eyebrows in amusement at her choice of words. “And you’ve appointed yourself my savior? Why?”
“Why not?” She smiled carelessly, “I’ve found I’ve acquired a taste for saving gentlemen lately.”
Winter agrees to Laby Isobel’s “tutelage” and offers himself up as a sacrifice to her teachings. As these two begin an intricate dance, each begins to see a side of the other that makes these lessons much more tantalizing. They both hide behind masks; neither of them allow the emotions that simmer just below the surface to rise. Winter’s dour nature hides a passionate warrior who is only released at night, hidden by the mask of the Ghost of St. Gilles. Lady Isobel uses her carefree smiles and flirty nature to hide a caring, kind heart whose capacity for love is boundless.
Soon, the lines that separate them blur, and it is no longer clear who is the student and who is the master.
“Have you been practicing flattery?” Lady Beckinhall asked.
“As per your instructions, “Winter replied. “I am in admiration of the way in which you can order tea so very...er...efficiently, my lady.”
“Thank you, Mr. Makepeace...I must say, you give the most imaginative complements.”
“Your tutelage has inspired me, ma’am...But you must be awash in a sea of compliments, my lady. Every gentleman you meet must voice his admiration, his wish to make love to you. And those are only those who may voice such thoughts. All about you are men who cannot speak of their admiration, who remain mute from lack of social standing or fear of offending you, following you like a trail of perfume, heady but invisible.”
As Winter’s and Isobel’s “lessons” leave the drawing room and enter the bedroom, they find themselves led down a path that leaves them exhilarated and uneasy. Besides the obvious social implications, Winter is not versed in the art of dalliances. He has a strong moral base, not for religious reasons, but more for the idea of being true to himself.
“...I regard physical lovemaking as something sacrosanct to love. And if I loved a woman enough to take her to my bed, then I would love her enough to marry her.”
Isobel tries to resist Winter, attempting to keep him at arm’s length, but soon comes to realize that losing him is an option she cannot even begin to entertain. Their path to happiness is a sensual journey that lasts all the way to the last page.
Thief of Shadows is a perfectly balanced mixture of action, adventure, and mystery and a beautifully crafted romance. Once again, Elizabeth Hoyt has created the perfect historical romance and a delightful addition to her Maiden Lane series.