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Oct 6 2017 12:00pm

First Look: Elizabeth Hoyt’s Duke of Desire (October 17, 2017)

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Elizabeth Hoyt
Duke of Desire (Maiden Lane #12)
Grand Central Publishing / October 17, 2017 / $7.99 print and digital

Elizabeth Hoyt wraps up her Maiden Lane series with Duke of Desire. The final outing of the self-proclaimed “Lords of Chaos”—an infamous Hellfire-type club whose rituals revolve around rape and the abuse of children—is satisfactorily resolved and the romance between Raphael and Iris is sexy and full of angst. Just how I like ‘em.

Raphael, the Duke of Dyemore is the son of the previous leader of the Lords and is deeply, psychologically – as well as physically - scarred by the actions of his parent. He fled England when just a boy and now, with his father dead, he has returned to destroy the Lords from the inside. His revenge is in no small part driven by his guilt at both having survived his childhood and the fact that he has done nothing up until now to put an end to the Lords’ evil.

Iris, the widowed Lady Jordan, is kidnapped by the Lords and set to become the main event of the evening’s festivities when she is rescued by Raphael, who has met and admired Iris before. Because of his past, he lives in a very dark place and this motif – Raphael’s darkness juxtaposed against Iris’s light – runs throughout the book.

She was a temptation—a weakness. He’d walked alone for so long. For his entire life, really. He’d never thought to seek another. To permit any light into his darkness.

But she was right here, within his grasp. To let her go again was beyond his control right now. He was weakened, dizzy, lost. Dear God, he wanted to keep her for himself.

Raphael gripped Lady Jordan’s hand with the hazy notion that if he let her go she’d flee his rotting abbey. Leave him here all alone in his house of death and despair.

Take her light away from him.

In order to protect her from the Lords, they marry, but each has very different ideas as to how the marriage should progress. Raphael sees himself as fundamentally flawed and unworthy of a normal life and marriage. Iris, while she has her doubts about Raphael, is a very practical woman and is determined to make the best of things, to have a real marriage. It’s an interesting push and pull relationship, with Raphael trying to distance himself from Iris and Iris refusing to be marginalized. Of course, Raphael is doomed to failure and that failure to hold himself aloof from Iris is both joyful and frightening.

When he’d woken this morning, her soft limbs entangled with his, he had spent long minutes simply gazing at her in wonder. Her lips were a dark pink and parted softly, and her eyelashes lay against her cheeks like moth wings. She was beautiful and she was determined and he hadn’t thought that marriage to her would result in this intimacy. He’d wanted her near, true, for he was a selfish, wicked man, and he didn’t particularly like the dark that he lived in. She was to be company – nothing more. But it seemed he’d deceived himself, both about the power of her lure and about his own savage desires.

Duke of Desire is a beautifully written tale of revenge and reconciliation, despair and hope, loathing and love. A most fitting end to a spectacular series.

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt, available October 17, 2017:

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Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com

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