Has anyone read the previous few Maiden Lane books and wondered how Elizabeth Hoyt was possibly going to rehabilitate Valentine Napier, Duke of Montgomery, from a villain to a hero for his book, Duke of Sin? The short answer…which delights me to no end…is: she didn’t.
THE PLOT: If you’ve read Dearest Rogue and Sweetest Scoundrel, you already know that Val is a blackmailing, kidnapping, completely immoral excuse for a duke. Okay, he cares about his half-sister, Eve, and once saved her from the Lords of Chaos, their father’s evil aristocratic secret society/rapey hunting club. But Val’s relationship to Eve is about as close to humanity as he gets. He’s even blackmailing THE KING to be permitted back in London, for crying out loud.
Val’s housekeeper, Bridget Crumb, knows pretty much all of what he gets up to. She’s actually positioned in his home to search for the various pieces of blackmail material he keeps around, such as family portraits and old letters, and take them back to diffuse his plots. She puts up with his wild behavior, but it’s hard for a practical housekeeper to take him seriously when most of the time he’s lounging around nude, talking about his sexual prowess, and acting completely insouciant about his nefarious activities.
Bridget starts to become more attached to Val as a person when he’s poisoned and she has to help him fight for his life. She learns some unfortunate things about his childhood and begins to act as his conscience. After all, he WAS raised by monsters and never learned right from wrong. But Val has no intention of changing. And Bridget might love him in spite of that…or because of it?
MY TWO CENTS: So you guys all know Tom Hiddleston, right? The actor also known as Hiddles? I hope so. I hope you’ve seen Marvel’s “The Avengers,” because the non-hero of the 10th Maiden Lane novel is totally based on Tom Hiddleston (confirmed by the author on her Facebook page). If you already love Loki in “The Avengers,” you don’t even need her confirmation. You will realize that Tom was the inspiration for this character as you read. You will hear Valentine Napier’s speeches as recited by Loki, and that is no joke. It doesn’t just work; it’s perfect.
I was concerned that by the end, Val would be a sappy romance hero who found his true love. HA! HUGE kudos to Hoyt for keeping Val in character all the way through, down to punishing his enemies through their children in a way that will make you laugh out loud.
Bridget is a match for him because she’s his perfect foil. There’s no delicate, ladylike swooning here. She’s so matter-of-fact in the face of all his drama. Lucky for us readers, she can’t actually make him behave, and doesn’t try too hard. Bridget is also interesting for her ties to other Maiden Lane characters. You’ll be wanting to re-read book one, Wicked Intentions, right after you finish this or maybe while you’re still reading it, so make sure you have it handy.
BOTTOM LINE: This duke lives up to his title! I know it’s a romance, but Val’s antics are front and center. He’s entertaining as hell. Read him as Loki and ENJOY.
TEACUP RATING: Four-and-a-half out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: Available May 31, 2016, in paperback and eformats.
NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: Once Upon a Moonlit Night, a novella about Hippolyta, is coming July 5. Alf’s book, Duke of Pleasure, will be available November 29, 2016.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.