Review: Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt


Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane) by Elizabeth Hoyt 
Historical / Regency
2012-06-26 (Grand Central Publishing)

Rating: B+
Heat: Hot

Heroine: Isabel Beckinhall - Aristocrat, Widow
Hero: Winter Makepeace - Vigilante, Virgin
Setting: England


While this isn't my first novel by Hoyt (I loved my affair with The Raven Prince very much indeed), it was my first Maiden Lane. And it worked great as a standalone. It didn't feel like I was missing anything vital by not having read the previous three books. But that's not to say that now I don't want to go back and start at the beginning - because I definitely do!

From nearly page one, there is action and intrigue and heat. From the moment Isabel happens upon the injured, and costumed, Winter, there is no going back for either of them. As oddly matched as they seemingly are - as Isabel is a lady, a widow, and nearly ten years older and Winter is a commoner, a schoolmaster, and a vigilante - they are like magnets. Pulled together or forced apart, depending on how they're arranged. Their chemistry was evident from the very first.

And the plot is this odd mix of one part Historical Romance with another part Oliver Twist and a dash of Zorro. Might sound strange, but it was a wonderful combination. It added a touch of whimsy and imagination to the usual fare. It was refreshing. And it honestly touched the kid in me, reading about a masked vigilante that dresses up as a Harlequin.
Which brings me to the story within the story featuring the Harlequin Ghost of St. Giles. Often I'm not a fan of those types of chapter beginnings, featuring prose or quotes or snippets or some such, but that wasn't the case this time. The tale of the Harlequin and his True Love was cute and entertaining and mirrored the story nicely.

The other Ghost of St. Giles, Winter Makepeace, is the hero of this tale however. And what a hero he is! I will admit to a certain affinity for the virgin hero - there is something endearing and tempting about an untried man. This is especially true of Winter, as his reasons for remaining pure are special and personal. A man saving himself for only his wife? Is there any gesture more romantic than that? I don’t think so! And for a man so inexperienced, Winter has definitely mastered the art of talking dirty. Dear lord. The things he’d say - whew.

Isabel is one lucky lady. Well, except that previous to Winter, she faced some serious disappointments in life and love. But she doesn’t dwell on them and she isn’t oblivious to her fortunate circumstances. Isabel is a very strong and caring woman, even if it is often hidden under a public mask. Or tucked away deep inside, afraid to be exposed and thus vulnerable.

Winter is very good at seeing behind her mask and burrowing himself under her skin. And Isabel is the only one able to see behind Winter’s own mask – both figurative and literal. Which is one of the best aspects of the story. Watching them unmask each other and themselves.

Now, what you really want to know: This book is hot. There are a number of scenes of sensuality. And Miz Hoyt sure can write ‘em. She isn’t afraid to go there, that’s for sure - and I thank her for it! Watching Winter discover his own sexuality, learning all that intimacy has to offer… it was potent, sheet-scorching stuff while still managing to be tender.

Favorite Quote:

He removed his tunic but didn't bother looking up as he sat to take off his boots.
"I want you to show me."
"Show you what?"
He did look up at that, one boot in his hands, and his eyes bored straight into her woman's soul.


Thoughts While Reading:

7% - "Starts out with a lot of action and intrigue!"
63% - "Really enjoying this one. Winter is... swoonworthy."
77% - "Wish we could have gotten Winter's POV after his life-changing decision..."
81% - "For a virgin, Winter sure has mastered the art of dirty talk."


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