DARLING BEAST (Maiden Lane #7) by Elizabeth Hoyt-a review
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 14, 2014
A MAN CONDEMNED . . .
Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown’s soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he’s quickly driven to distraction . . .
A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .
London’s premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she’s forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren’t the only inhabitants—a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there’s more to this man than meets the eye.
OUT OF ASH, DESIRE FLARES
Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he’s forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.
REVIEW: DARLING BEAST is the seventh full length installment in Elizabeth Hoyt’s historical Maiden Lane romance series. This is Viscount Kilbourne (Apollo Greaves first introduced in Duke of Midnight Book # 6) and stage actress/writer Lily Stump’s (aka Robin Goodfellow) storyline-a beauty and the beast scenario. Although this is the seventh in the series it can be read as a stand alone. Each chapter begins with an ‘out take’ from a short fairy tale- The Minotaur- that reflects the nature of Darling Beast.
The premise focuses on the building relationship between Lily and a ‘beast’ of a man with no known name. Apollo is on the run- an escapee from the horrific prison known as Bedlam- and is hiding from the people who have wrongly accused him of murder. He is a man who is unable to speak due to an attack and torture that left him near death. Working to rebuild the pleasure gardens near the burned out remains of the theatre, Apollo will find solace and love in the arms of a woman who refuses to judge a man based on his past. With Apollo on the run and his true identity unknown, Lily is unsure of her future.
The relationship between our leading couple is slow to build beginning as friends to lovers. Lily is unaware of Apollo’s true identity believing him to be mentally deficient-unaware of his title-and what happened in the past to bring such heartbreak and sorrow. She is in awe of his body, his beauty and his talent as a gardener. Apollo is immediately attracted to Lily but knows he will only bring trouble if the truth were ever found out. The love scenes are intimate and provocative.
The secondary and supporting characters are numerous including some of the previous storyline players including Captain James Trevillion and Asa Makepeace, Artemis and Maxiumus (Duke of Midnight), members of the aristocracy, family, friends and Lily’s fellow actors. The world building continues to follow the actors and actors, the investigations and, the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
The first half of DARLING BEAST is very slow moving with the focus on Lily, Indio, her maid and their reluctant friendship with a mute stranger whom Indio dubbed ‘Caliban’ after the subhuman, wild man character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Apollo’s inability to speak may have contributed to the drag of the storyline because his interaction was mostly visual in the early stages of the story. From the outset our hero is less than perfect, a titled madman, and a murderer in everyone’s eyes and in this he has a difficult time socializing and regaining a foothold in society. Lily’s chosen career as a stage actor places our heroine in the unlikely position as a lower class female and Apollo’s need for Lily will raise a few eyebrows in the aristocratic class.
Elizabeth Hoyt adds another interesting dimension to the Maiden Lane series with her unique and imaginative characters. If you can get past the slow build of the first half, DARLING BEAST is a welcome and pleasurable addition to the series.
Reviewed by Sandy