From the BLURB:
Their lives were perfect . . .
Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humour, but that doesn't bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother...
Until they met each other.
Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect - and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire - desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero's wedding nears, and Griffin's enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?
Lady Hero Batten meets her future brother-in-law under the most excruciatingly awkward circumstances. At her engagement soiree Lady Hero walks in on Griffin Remmington coupling with a married woman who is most certainly not his wife...
It’s one thing to encounter your almost brother-in-law in the middle of a carnal act upon a settee, it’s entirely another for said brother-in-law to not care in the least. In fact, Remmington finds the whole event slightly hilarious, and takes great pleasure in Hero’s prudish embarrassment. What’s worse is that Hero finds herself mortifyingly enamoured of the younger Remmington, even though she is engaged to his brother Thomas.
Griffin Remington has enjoyed his notoriously rakish lifestyle. Women come and go and he takes great pleasure in their fleeting encounters. Until Lady Hero – or, as he nicknames her, Lady Perfect. She is gentle, kind and everything his brother Thomas deserves. Except that Griffin wants her for himself . . . which makes Hero the second woman Griffin has supposedly stolen from his older brother.
‘Notorious Pleasures’ is the second book in Elizabeth Hoyt’s ‘Maiden Lane’ historical romance series.
I love Elizabeth Hoyt. I haven’t read a book of hers that I didn’t adore. And honestly, my love for her is hard to articulate. Admittedly, her storylines aren’t reinventing the historical romance genre. There’s a pretty limited spectrum of story to be explored in this genre, and invariably there will be a rake, a wronged party and a fair maiden. But Elizabeth Hoyt seems to elevate the historical romance genre to something truly magnificent. I can’t quite put my finger on it . . . it’s a combination of her lyrical writing, easy repartee, cunning heroines and her reluctantly romantic rakes who remain determinedly roguish for as long as possible.
I loved Hero and Griffin’s first meeting in ‘Notorious Pleasures’. So often romance authors are unwilling to go the extra mile to make their ‘rakes’ truly rakish and hard to love. More often than not, the heroine will never encounter her rake’s sinister side, and all promiscuity will come to a screeching halt once the rake meets his maiden. But Hoyt takes the plunge and writes Hero meeting Griffin for the first time while he is rutting away with a married woman. Brilliant! Absolute, solidified proof that Griffin is as notorious as he’s made out to be. Admittedly, upon meeting Hero, Griffin quickly realizes he likes this lady more than any other he has ever encountered. But he holds-out for a long time, trying to put the attraction down to ‘lust’ and nothing more.
She’d heard a few whispered rumours about her fiancé’s mysterious brother, but they’d been maddeningly vague. “Are you so irredeemable?”“I am a veritable blackguard.” He circled her, pacing slowly to the music, whispering so only she could hear. “A seducer, a rake, the worst sort of profligate. I am notorious for my pleasures – I drink too much, wench with abandon, and belch in mixed company. I have no discretion, no morals, and no desire for either. I am, in short, the devil himself, and you, my dearest Lady Perfect, would do well to avoid my company at all costs.”
I was quite surprised that I liked Hero so much. We met her in first book ‘Maiden Lane’ and she seemed a little too good to be true. She is the main benefactress of the St. Giles Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, and she kindly pours money into the charity. She seemed a little too squeaky-clean and holier-than-thou. But Hoyt actually takes that assumption and runs with it . . . Hero initially takes great pride in being ‘perfect’, and Griffin is oddly enamoured of her benevolence. But as Hero falls for Griffin she loses herself amidst the lust he incites in her . . . she becomes disgusted with herself, and lost to Griffin’s love. I really enjoyed reading about Hero’s fall from grace, it was a different way to write about a blushing maiden.
One things I love about the ‘Maiden Lane’ series is that Hoyt has not limited herself to any exploration of societal ranking. Often in historical romances the characters will be a part of the ton or middle class and rarely interact with anyone above, or below, their station. The ‘Maiden Lane’ in question is located in the treacherous London area of St. Giles – a red-light-district and general dead-end town. It is in St. Giles that the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children is situated. In the first ‘Maiden Lane’ novel we met the family who charitably run the home – the Dews family. Running concurrently with Hero’s story is the tale of Silence Hollingbrook (once Dews) who helps run the home, and has adopted one of the foundling children as her own. I really love that while ‘Notorious Pleasures’ was all about the more upper-crust of society, Hoyt still integrates the dregs of St. Giles and explores the lower-rungs of the city. The next book in the Maiden Lane series is called ‘Scandalous Desires’, and will be all about how Silence Hollingbrook falls for the King of St. Giles, notorious criminal Mickey O’Connor. I can’t wait! I also hope a future book in ‘Maiden Lane’ focuses on the Ghost of St. Giles (I'm dying to know who he is!)
Elizabeth Hoyt is the queen of historic romances. Her novels really are decadent perfection - her characters live in the gray areas and come from all walks of life. ‘Notorious Pleasures’ is yet another succulent delight; a lady’s fall from grace and a rake succumbing to love. Perfection!