This review contains no spoilers. This book is part of the Maiden Lane series.
A word about the Maiden Lane series in general. I live in London now and just yesterday, walked past the Seven Dials column referenced in this book. Though the streets are still narrow, St. Giles itself is completely gone. I actually go to school not far from the area in which this incredible story is set, but I can still picture the London of yesterday. St. Giles itself is a character and Elizabeth Hoyt actually makes me regret slightly that it’s lost to modernization, and exists now only in the names of the streets.
This book itself brings me back to why Hoyt is in my top five favorites list for historicals. Though I have enjoyed all six novels in this series, the second and fifth one are less compelling, though excellently written. This one brings many of the pieces laid out into place, and solves old mysteries, answering old questions while presenting new ones in their place.
Artemis Greaves is supposed to be wallpaper as her cousin’s companion and bravo to Elizabet Hoyt for making me nervous about seeing her as a heroine, because she had done such a splendid job of making her wallpaper in previous outings as the quiet and reserved woman next to the silly and relatively inane Lady Penelope. Underneath that exterior lies an intriguing woman with many secrets, who absolutely leaps off the page (or the Nook as it were). The Duke of Wakefield, Maximus Batten, has been another tough character to see as a hero, after his outing in Book #2. That being said, the layers and humanity given to him here are nothing short of page-turning.
I read this book in one sitting, not even putting it down to make tea or eat breakfast, all difficult things to do one-handed and distracted. I was invested in the outcome, curious at how it would work since we know in advance it is a happy ending, because it must be. That, for me, is always the suspense in romance novels. The genre commands certain conditions in the end, but when an author puts their characters in such situations, gives them so many obstacles, one wonders how it all comes to gether. It’s not about the ending for me, it’s the journey. And as always, Elizabeth Hoyt delivers, making me wish I could walk the streets of St. Giles myself as they were nearly three hundred years ago, rather than the commercial and boring streets existing today.