"Elizabeth Hoyt has outdone herself." Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author
WHEN A MASKED MAN . . .
Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe-and won't back down . . .
MEETS HIS MATCH . . .
Artemis Greaves toils as a lady's companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She's even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . .
DESIRE IGNITES A DANGEROUS PASSION
Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn't without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?
About the Author
Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing "mesmerizing." She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.
The winters in Minnesota have been known to be long and cold and Elizabeth is always thrilled to receive reader mail. You can write to her at: P.O. Box 19495, Minneapolis, MN 55419 or email her at: Elizabeth@ElizabethHoyt.com.
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Read an Excerpt
Duke of Midnight
By Elizabeth Hoyt
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2013 Elizabeth Hoyt
All rights reserved.
Many a tale I've told, but none so strange as the legend of the Herla King....
—from The Legend of the Herla King
Artemis Greaves did not like to think herself a cynical person, but when the masked figure dropped into the moonlit alley to confront the three toughs already menacing her and her cousin, the hand on the knife in her boot tightened.
It seemed only prudent.
He was big and wore a harlequin's motley—black-and-red diamond leggings and tunic, black jackboots, a hat with a wide, floppy brim, and a black half mask with a grotesquely outsized nose. Harlequins were meant to be clowns—a silly entertainment—but no one in the dark alley was laughing. The harlequin uncoiled from his crouch with a lethal movement so elegant Artemis's breath caught in her throat. He was like a jungle cat—wild and without a trace of compassion—and like a jungle cat his attack held no hesitation.
He launched himself at the three men.
Artemis stared, still kneeling, her hand gripping the little blade sheathed in her boot. She'd never seen anyone fight like this—with a kind of brutal grace, two swords flashing at once through the shadows, too swift for the human eye to follow.
The first of the three men dropped, rolling to lie still and dazed. On the other side of the fight Artemis's cousin, Lady Penelope Chadwicke, whimpered, cringing away from the bleeding man. A second man lunged, but the harlequin ducked, sweeping his outstretched leg under his opponent's feet, then kicked the man to the ground and kicked him once more—viciously—in the face. The harlequin rose, already striking at the third man. He hammered the butt of his sword against his opponent's temple.
The man collapsed with a squishy thud.
Artemis swallowed drily.
The dingy little lane was suddenly quiet, the crumbling buildings on either side seeming to loom inward with decrepit menace. The harlequin pivoted, not even breathing hard, his boot heels scraping on cobblestones, and glanced at Penelope. She still sobbed fearfully against the wall.
His head swiveled silently as he looked from Penelope to Artemis.
Artemis inhaled as she met the cold eyes glittering behind his sinister mask.
Once upon a time she had believed that most people were kind. That God watched over her and that if she were honest and good and always offered the last piece of raspberry tart to someone else first, then, even though sad things might happen, in the end everything would work out for the best. That was before, though. Before she'd lost both her family and the man who'd professed to love her more than the sun itself. Before her beloved brother had been wrongly imprisoned in Bedlam. Before she'd been so wretchedly desperate and alone that she'd wept tears of relieved gratitude when she'd been offered a position as her silly cousin's lady's companion.
Before, Artemis would've fallen upon this grim harlequin with cries of thanks for having rescued them in the nick of time.
Now, Artemis narrowed her eyes at the masked man and wondered why he'd come to the aid of two lone women wandering the dangerous streets of St. Giles at midnight.
Perhaps she had grown a trifle cynical.
He strode to her in two lithe steps and stood over her. She saw those intense eyes move from the hand on her pathetic knife to her face. His wide mouth twitched—in amusement? Irritation? Pity? She doubted the last, but she simply couldn't tell—and bizarrely, she wanted to. It mattered, somehow, what this stranger thought of her—and, of course, what he intended to do to her.
Holding her gaze, he sheathed his short sword and pulled the gauntlet off his left hand with his teeth. He held out his bare hand to her.
She glanced at the proffered hand, noticing the dull glint of gold on the smallest finger, before laying her palm in his. His hand was hot as he gripped her tightly and pulled her upright before him. She was so close that if she leaned forward a couple of inches she could've brushed her lips across his throat. She watched the pulse of his blood beat there, strong and sure, before she lifted her gaze. His head was cocked almost as if he were examining her—searching for something in her face.
She drew in a breath, opening her mouth to ask a question.
Which was when Penelope launched herself at the harlequin's back. Penelope screamed—obviously nearly out of her mind with fear—as she beat uselessly at the harlequin's broad shoulders.
He reacted, of course. He turned, yanking his hand from Artemis's fingers as he lifted one arm to push Penelope aside. But Artemis tightened her hand on his. It was instinct, for she certainly wouldn't have tried to hold him back otherwise. As his fingers left hers, something fell into her palm.
Then he was shoving Penelope aside and loping swiftly down the lane.
Penelope panted, her hair half down, a scratch across her lovely face. "He might've killed us!"
"What?" Artemis asked, tearing her gaze away from the end of the lane where the masked man had disappeared.
"That was the Ghost of St. Giles," Penelope said. "Didn't you recognize him? They say he's a ravisher of maidens and a cold-blooded murderer!"
"He was rather helpful for a cold-blooded murderer," Artemis said as she bent to lift the lantern. She'd set it down when the toughs had appeared at the end of the alley. Fortunately, it had survived the fight without being knocked over. She was surprised to see that the lantern's light wavered. Her hand was shaking. She drew in a calming breath. Nerves wouldn't get them out of St. Giles alive.
She glanced up to see Penelope pouting.
"But you were very brave to defend me," Artemis added hastily.
Penelope brightened. "I was, wasn't I? I fought off a terrible rogue! That's much better than drinking a cup of gin at midnight in St. Giles. I'm sure Lord Featherstone will be very impressed."
Artemis rolled her eyes as she turned swiftly back the way they'd come. Lord Featherstone was at the moment her least favorite person in the world. A silly society gadfly, it was he who had teased Penelope into accepting a mad wager to come into St. Giles at midnight, buy a tin cup of gin, and drink it. They'd nearly been killed—or worse—because of Lord Featherstone.
And they still weren't out of St. Giles yet.
If only Penelope weren't so set on becoming daring—loathsome word—in order to attract the attention of a certain duke, she might not have fallen for Lord Featherstone's ridiculous dare. Artemis shook her head and kept a wary eye out as she hurried out of the alley and into one of the myriad of narrow lanes that wound through St. Giles. The channel running down the middle of the lane was clogged with something noxious, and she made sure not to look as she trotted by. Penelope had quieted, following almost docilely. A stooped, shadowy figure came out of one of the sagging buildings. Artemis stiffened, preparing to run, but the man or woman scurried away at the sight of them.
Still, she didn't relax again until they turned the corner and saw Penelope's carriage, left standing in a wider street.
"Ah, here we are," Penelope said, as if they were returning from a simple stroll along Bond Street. "That was quite exciting, wasn't it?"
Artemis glanced at her cousin incredulously—and a movement on the roof of the building across the way caught her eye. A figure crouched there, athletic and waiting. She stilled. As she watched, he raised a hand to the brim of his hat in mocking salute.
A shiver ran through her.
"Artemis?" Penelope had already mounted the steps to the carriage.
She tore her gaze away from the ominous figure. "Coming, Cousin."
Artemis climbed into the carriage and sat tensely on the plush indigo squabs. He'd followed them, but why? To discover who they were? Or for a more benign reason—to make sure that they had reached the carriage safely?
Silly, she scolded herself—it did no good to indulge in flights of romantic fancy. She doubted that a creature such as the Ghost of St. Giles cared very much for the safety of two foolish ladies. No doubt he had reasons of his own for following them.
"I cannot wait to tell the Duke of Wakefield of my adventure tonight," Penelope said, interrupting Artemis's thoughts. "He'll be terribly surprised, I'll wager."
"Mmm," Artemis murmured noncommittally. Penelope was very beautiful, but would any man want a wife so hen-witted that she ventured into St. Giles at night on a wager and thought it a great lark? Penelope's method of attracting the duke's attention seemed impetuous at best and at worst foolish. For a moment Artemis's heart twinged with pity for her cousin.
But then again Penelope was one of the richest heiresses in England. Much could be overlooked for a veritable mountain of gold. Too, Penelope was esteemed one of the great beauties of the age, with raven-black hair, milky skin, and eyes that rivaled the purple of a pansy. Many men wouldn't care about the person beneath such a lovely surface.
Artemis sighed silently and let her cousin's excited chatter wash over her. She ought to pay more attention. Her fate was inexorably tied to Penelope's, for Artemis would go to whatever house and family her cousin married into.
Unless Penelope decided she no longer needed a lady's companion after she wed.
Artemis's fingers tightened about the thing the Ghost of St. Giles had left in her hand. She'd had a glimpse of it in the carriage's lantern light before she'd entered. It was a gold signet ring set with a red stone. She rubbed her thumb absently over the worn stone. It felt ancient. Powerful. Which was quite interesting.
An aristocrat might wear such a ring.
Maximus batten, the Duke of Wakefield, woke as he always did: with the bitter taste of failure on his tongue.
For a moment he lay on his great curtained bed, eyes closed, trying to swallow down the bile in his throat as he remembered dark tresses trailing in bloody water. He reached out and laid his right palm on the locked strongbox that sat on the table beside his bed. The emerald pendants from her necklace, carefully gathered over years of searching, were within. The necklace wasn't complete, though, and he'd begun to despair that it ever would be. That the blot of his failure would remain upon his conscience forever.
And now he had a new failure. He flexed his left hand, feeling the unaccustomed lightness. He'd lost his father's ring—the ancestral ring—last night somewhere in St. Giles. It was yet another offense to add to his long list of unpardonable sins.
He stretched carefully, pushing the matter from his mind so that he might rise and do his duty. His right knee ached dully, and something was off about his left shoulder. For a man in but his thirty-third year he was rather battered.
His valet, Craven, turned from the clothespress. "Good morning, Your Grace."
Maximus nodded silently and threw back the coverlet. He rose, nude, and padded to the marble-topped dresser with only a slight limp. A basin of hot water already waited there for him. His razor, freshly sharpened by Craven, appeared beside the basin as Maximus soaped his jaw.
"Will you be breaking your fast with Lady Phoebe and Miss Picklewood this morning?" Craven enquired.
Maximus frowned into the gold mirror standing on the dresser as he tilted his chin and set the razor against his neck. His youngest sister, Phoebe, was but twenty. When Hero, his other sister, had married several years ago, he'd decided to move Phoebe and their older cousin, Bathilda Picklewood, into Wakefield House with him. He was pleased to have her under his eye, but having to share accommodations—even accommodations as palatial as Wakefield House—with the two ladies sometimes got in the way of his other activities.
"Not today," he decided, scraping whiskers from his jaw. "Please send my apologies to my sister and Cousin Bathilda."
"Yes, Your Grace."
Maximus watched in the mirror as the valet arched his eyebrows in mute reproach before retiring to the clothespress. He didn't suffer the rebuke—even a silent one—of many, but Craven was a special case. The man had been his father's valet for fifteen years before Maximus had inherited him on attaining the title. Craven had a long face, the vertical lines on either side of his mouth and the droop of his eyes at the outer corners making it seem longer. He must be well into his fifties, but one couldn't tell by his countenance: he looked like he could be any age from thirty to seventy. No doubt Craven would still look the same when Maximus was a doddering old man without a hair on his head.
He snorted to himself as he tapped the razor against a porcelain bowl, shaking soap froth and whiskers from the blade. Behind him Craven began laying out smallclothes, stockings, a black shirt, waistcoat, and breeches. Maximus turned his head, scraping the last bit of lather from his jaw, and used a dampened cloth to wipe his face.
"Did you find the information?" he asked as he donned smallclothes.
"Indeed, Your Grace." Craven rinsed the razor and carefully dried the fine blade. He laid it in a fitted velvet-lined box as reverently as if the razor had been the relic of some dead saint.
Craven cleared his throat as if preparing to recite poetry before the king. "The Earl of Brightmore's finances are, as far as I've been able to ascertain, quite happy. In addition to his two estates in Yorkshire, both with arable land, he is in possession of three producing coal mines in the West Riding, an ironworks in Sheffield, and has recently bought interest in the East India Company. At the beginning of the year he opened a fourth coal mine, and in so doing accrued some debt, but the reports from the mine are quite favorable. The debt in my estimation is negligible."
Maximus grunted as he pulled on his breeches.
Craven continued, "As to the earl's daughter, Lady Penelope Chadwicke, it's well known that Lord Brightmore plans to offer a very nice sum when she is wed."
Maximus lifted a cynical eyebrow. "Do we have an actual number?"
"Indeed, Your Grace." Craven pulled a small notebook from his pocket and, licking his thumb, paged through it. Peering down at the notebook, he read off a sum so large Maximus came close to doubting Craven's research skills.
"Good God. You're sure?"
Craven gave him a faintly chiding look. "I have it on the authority of the earl's lawyer's chief secretary, a rather bitter gentleman who cannot hold his liquor."
"Ah." Maximus arranged his neck cloth and shrugged on his waistcoat. "Then that leaves only Lady Penelope herself."
"Quite." Craven tucked his notebook away and pursed his lips, staring at the ceiling. "Lady Penelope Chadwicke is four and twenty years of age and her father's sole living offspring. Despite her rather advanced maiden status, she does not lack for suitors, and indeed appears to be only unwed because of her own ... ah ... unusually high standards in choosing a gentleman."
Craven winced at the blunt assessment. "It would appear so, Your Grace."
Maximus nodded as he opened his bedroom door. "We'll continue downstairs."
"Yes, Your Grace." Craven picked up a candle and lit it at the fireplace.
A wide corridor lay outside his bedroom. To the left was the front of the house and the grand staircase that led to the public rooms of Wakefield House.
Maximus turned to the right, Craven trotting at his heels. This way led to the servants' stairs and other less public rooms. Maximus opened a door paneled to look like the wainscoting in the hall and clattered down the uncarpeted stairs. He passed the entrance to the kitchens and continued down another level. The stairs ended abruptly, blocked by a plain wooden door. Maximus took a key from his waistcoat pocket and unlocked the door. Beyond was another set of stairs, but these were stone, so ancient the treads dipped in the middle, worn away by long-dead feet. Maximus followed them down as Craven lit candles tucked into the nooks in the stone walls.
Maximus ducked under a low stone arch and came to a small paved area. The candlelight behind him flickered over worn stone walls. Here and there figures were scratched in the stone: symbols and crude human representations. Maximus doubted very much that they'd been made during the age of Christianity. Directly ahead was a second door, the wood blackened by age. He unlocked this as well and pushed it open.
Excerpted from Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt. Copyright © 2013 Elizabeth Hoyt. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt Book Six of the Maiden Lane series Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Publication: October 15, 2013 Rating: 5 stars Source: ARC sent from the publisher ***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers*** Summary (from Goodreads): WHEN A MASKED MAN . . . Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe-and won't back down . . . MEETS HIS MATCH . . . Artemis Greaves toils as a lady's companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She's even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . . DESIRE IGNITES A DANGEROUS PASSION Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn't without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace? What I Liked: You know that feeling when you fly through a much-anticipated book and you get to the ending and you just collapse and close your eyes and sigh because the book was THAT GOOD? Yeah... that's how I felt after reading and finishing Duke of Midnight. It didn't just have a great ending, or an exciting climax, or an endearing romance - this book had it ALL, from start to finish. I'm going to start with the plot. Artemis, lady's companion to her cousin (distant relation) Lady Penelope, is treated almost like a servant, despite being of noble background. As a lady's companion, she is always with Penelope, and she is regarded as the poor relation that must depend on the kindness of her relatives to support her. Also, she has a "mad" twin brother, Apollo, which makes her situation even worse, as people think that madness runs in the family. Apollo is accused of killing several people and thrown in Bedlam. Everyone believes that he is mad, except Artemis. She wants him out of Bedlam. An opportunity is given to her in the form of Maximus Batten,the Duke of Wakefield. She discovers that he is the Ghost of St. Giles, and all but blackmails him with her knowledge. Can you see how the plot of this book is exciting? Blackmail AND romance AND murder AND betrayal! Oh, I probably didn't mention betrayal. The Duke courts Lady Penelope for a good portion of the book, and intends to marry her. So, in a way, Artemis betrays Penelope by falling in love with the Duke (and that's not a spoiler... I don't think). So the plot itself was AMAZING. I loved how the plot wasn't typical of a historical romance novel. I mean, the poor relation threatening a duke?! I found this angle intriguing. Artemis is such a strong and independent character - so different from Lady Penelope and the typical female figure of this time. She is named for the goddess of the hunt, and this reference appears quite often in this book. Artemis herself is a hunter, seeking to free her brother, and hunting her prey (Maximus). I loved how she went after Maximus, and not necessarily the other way around. And Maximus. Oh, Maximus. I didn't think I would, you know, LIKE him, after his cold and iron-like appearances in the previous Maiden Lane books. But, I found myself completely sympathizing with him and really liking him and wanting to give him a hug throughout the book! It's hard not to fall for him - beneath the cold exterior is a broken man. Onto the romance. The romance was... heartbreaking and beautiful and ALIVE. I honestly don't know how to describe it better than that. The romance wasn't soft and flowery and sweet. It was brutal and passionate, powerful and unforgiving. Maximus and Artemis are meant for each other in so many ways, but it's their passion, so alike, that make them magnetic. Their relationship progresses in the strangest manner, what with Maximus formally courting Penelope, and Artemis being Penelope's lady's companion, but it developed seamlessly and perfectly. As always, Ms. Hoyt does an excellent job of writing the historical part of this book - meaning, she does her research well, and knows the history behind this time period. I am always impressed by how well Ms. Hoyt writes this historical society, because believe me when I say, I am unconsciously watching for anachronisms. The ending is PERFECT. Yes, it's a happy ending that you could probably see from the beginning, but the way that everything else happens makes the ending so much more real and deserved. I love the journey on which Ms. Hoyt takes us readers - and I hope you will too! What I Did Not Like: I can honestly say that there wasn't much, if anything, that I didn't like. I dislike saying something like that, because no book is perfect. But it's been several weeks since I read this book (and re-read it, and re-read it again, and re-read it 21454756 more times... you THINK I'm exaggerating!), and I can't think of anything I really didn't like about this book. Would I Recommend It: YES! I highly recommend this book to historical romance lovers, even if you've never read any of the books in this series, or any of Ms. Hoyt's books. This is definitely one of the best (if not, the best) historical romance books (if not, the best historical romance book) that I have read - and I have read a good many! Rating: 5 stars. Whatever you do, DON'T miss this one! Read it out of the series, if you've never picked up any of the books in this series! And if you're already a fan of this series, you will not be disappointed!
Best book yet in the Maiden Lane series! As thos series goes on its amazing to see the characters grow and how they are still interwoven with each other throughout the whole of the series, not just the individual books. So excited for the next one!
This may be my favorite of the maiden lane series. I had been waiting anxiously for this book to come out, and it certainly did not disappoint. I think Artemis is my favorite of this series' heroines, and Maximus is her perfect match. These two characters are complex and richly drawn, and the passion between them sizzles. Hoyt's plotlines are as usual, compelling. Wonderful! I do hope to see more books in the series. I especially would like to find out what happens to Artemis' twin brother Apollo...
I loved this book. I love the series, have always loved Maximus's character, love the ghost, loved Artemis, loved the story, loved everything about it! Absolutely couldnt put it down! Loved the teaser at the end, cant wait for the next one!
I was lucky enough to receive this book from Goodreads. I sure do love a good historical romance novel!! This is my first Elizabeth Hoyt novel but I've had my eye on a few of her works previously so I was pretty excited when this one arrived in the mail. First impressions? Dude. There are similar names that REALLY threw me off at first. The only similarity was the first letter but it made it a bit confusing at first ... like Phoebe and Penelope, Artemis and Apollo, Blackbourne and Brightmore, just to name a few. Come on, I know that there are only 26 letters in the alphabet and that there are tons of first initials that are the same but when you're first diving into a book, you don't expect for there to be soo many that are similar right from the get-go. Well, at least I didn't. I think that it just added some unnecessary confusion at first until you get through the first few chapters and kind of have a handle on what is going on. Anyhow ... the novel is really well written. It held my attention and kept me interested throughout the whole thing. I didn't find any parts that were long winded or boring, I didn't have to skim anything and all in all, it was a good book. The characters were intriguing and I really enjoyed reading about Maximus and the journey that he has taken in his life. I do wish that there was a little more back story to the heroine, Artemis, of the story but that very well could have been in some of the previous novels of the series. That being said, I didn't feel the need to go back and read the previous 5 just to know what was going on in this one, it could definitely be a stand alone novel. All in all, a good book. I'd be interested to see what some of the other Hoyt novels are like because I really enjoyed the mystery and intrigue in this one.
It was no doubt or second thoughts when I brought this book I would not enjoy it as I have all that you wrote. You are a writer who knows what your fans like to read. And book after book you give what your fans wait for. Never failing or letting me down. It took me 9 hours to read this book. Over 300 pgs. I could not put it down. Bravo E.H. you have done it again. Ms. D from Bronx, NY
This was a captivating story. I was unable to put it down. Wonderful story.
GREAT read!!! I simply could NOT put this book down...read it in 2 nights! Loved the characters, the mystery & , of course, the romance. Elizabeth Holt is one of my favorite authors & she certainly didn't disappoint on this latest novel!
I didn't like the tease at the end...is there another book?
If you haven't read anything from this author, you need to add her to your list. I have not read anything of hers that I haven't loved.
Stepping into Georgian England with this series is great fun. I enjoyed the mystery along with the love story. The side characters and settings were well flushed out. It was just fun!
Another great Georgian romance from this author. If you haven't read the Maiden Lane series yet, you need to. Unlike another reviewer who said this book was boring and a waste of time, I very much disagree. I generally don't like series, but I had to read every book by this writer. She has a very unique and engaging style of storytelling! Time well spent :)
The first book l read in the Maiden Lane serious was the final one... although at the time l had no idea there was a full series. It wasn't until I read #11 that l discovered there were more. After that l have read series 1-6 and now will continue until I've read them all. I have found Ms. Hoyt to be able to include everything that makes Historical Romances my favorite. If you are put off by graphic, hot sex... these are not for you. Everything combined.. mystery, intrigue, humor, heartbreak along with the hot sex... makes for a "must read" and adds the author to my list of favorites.
“Duke of Midnight” is one of the most perfect historical romances I’ve read in a long time! I feel like I should write a love letter to Elizabeth Hoyt for awakening me from my reading ennui of late. The fast pace kept me up a night, turning the pages desperate to read on and the characters were intriguing, tortured, and complex. Maximus, the Duke of Wakefield, is the ultimate alpha hero: conceited, arrogant, and carefully controlled over every situation. His control extends to his cold logic in determining his future Duchess. His top nominee turns out to be Lady Penelope, the featherbrain twit of several seasons, but because of her fortune and good lucks, can afford to take her time in picking her husband. Fortunately, Lady Penelope’s single state is a benefit to her distant poor relation, Artemis Greaves. Artemis, like all poor relations, straddles the fine line between being just one of the help and a lady. Because her brother, Apollo, was thrown into Bedlam, Artemis considers herself lucky that any family would take her in at all. Even when she’s surrounded with her cousin, Lady Penelope, and her “Uncle”, she feels alone and abandoned at the beginning of the story. I loved Artemis’ resourcefulness and bravery that we’ve been given glimpses of throughout the series. In the Duke of Midnight, Artemis has to reach deep and be prepared to sacrifice everything to save her brother. Her love for Apollo gives her the strength to stand up to Maximus and defy him when she knows he’s wrong. She challenges him to confront his painful childhood and the witness of his parents’ murder when he was only 14 years old. I read some of the reviewers’ comments who say they didn’t like Maximus, but I loved him and his character arc. At the end of story, he’s faced with avenging his parents’ murder or the saving Artemis. Revenge has been eating at him for years, pushing him to take up the mask of the Ghost of St. Giles and turn away Artemis. But when Maximus sees Artemis dive over the side of the boat, he goes after her! She sacrifices her life to give the man she loves what he’s always wanted: revenge, but it’s because of her love that Maximus is transformed. He dives after Artemis, saving her and giving me one of the most satisfying HEAs I’ve read in a long time. Ms. Hoyt’s story was an excellent example of hero’s and heroine’s external (Maximus: finding a bride; Artemis: freeing her brother Apollo from Bedlam) and internal conflicts (Maximus: overcoming his need for revenge and finding true love; Artemis: can she sacrifice being alone again for love?) and character arcs. I’d be happy to discuss this book with other authors, because if I had a class on “Romance 101”, I would have students read her book as required text.
This has become my favorite Maiden Lane series.
I think that next to Charming Mickey and Silence's story, this is my favorite. I loved watching the Duke of Wakefield squirm and lose his precious control and order. He is a formidable man and Artemis is the perfect woman to help him lose that control. She is strong, she has to be to earn his notice, and she is determined. I couldn't believe she actually tried to blackmail him! That was fun to watch them spar together. In order to save her brother, she must blackmail the Ghost of St. Giles, and what do you know, the Duke is the third member of that team. He doesn't take too kindly to this lady's companion speaking her mind and standing up to him and trying to blackmail him into saving her "lunatic" brother. But he can also not believe how alluring her strength and sense of freedom, even within her confining circumstances, is and when he finds her wandering his forests early in the morning barefoot, he knows that this woman is both dangerous to his plans and to his well ordered life, and to his heart (though being the man that he is, he doesn't see it that way at first) :-P I enjoyed their adventure and the ending was quite romantic; his proposal was down right perfect!
This book was such a fantastic read. I love reading anything Hoyt writes and this book is no exception.
I love the whole series and this one has been one of my favorites. I am excited for her to keep writing about all the characters!! The whole series is a must read!!
Artemis Greaves is a woman very much alone in the world. She has lost her parents, her brother, and her fiancé when her circumstances were reduced and her family scandalized. She is now a lady’s companion to her very spoiled and immature cousin, Penelope, a vain and shallow woman who epitomizes the very worst of society. Yet Artemis is grateful to her—Penelope’s father, a distant cousin, took Artemis in when no one else would. Artemis feels sorry for Penelope, at the same time she is secretly exasperated by her actions and behavior. When Penelope ventures into St. Giles on a dare Artemis, as her lady’s companion, has no choice but to follow and, when they encounter footpads and the Ghost of St. Giles comes to their rescue, Artemis stands her ground. I really like how Elizabeth Hoyt conveys Artemis’ inner struggle between being the proper, well-behaved, and very hidden companion she must present to society with her restless urge to break free of the constrictive box she is in whenever she can. She captures this frustration perfectly in a ballroom scene: “Artemis held very still because she had a quite mad urge to tear sweet Miss Picklewood’s hand from her leg. To stand up and scream. To run through the ballroom, out the front door, and keep running until she felt cool grass beneath her feet again. This couldn’t be her life. It simply couldn’t be.” But Artemis has a strong and admirable strength of character, resilience, and a will to survive. When she attends a house party at the Duke of Wakefield’s country house, she takes every opportunity to run free, barefoot in the woods, early in the mornings before the other guests awake. It is during one of these morning rambles that Maximus, the Duke of Wakefield, encounters her on his own morning walks with his dogs. He is drawn to her free spirit, her strength, and feels for her in the poor circumstances of her life. He is also courting Penelope, her cousin. Maximus is in awe of Artemis even as he knows she is the wrong type of woman to be his duchess, according to Georgian society. But he can’t help himself. Like her namesake, she is like a goddess to him. “…she was one of the innumerable female shades: companions, maiden aunts, poor relations. The ones who hung back. The ones who drifted quietly in the shadows. Every man of means had them, for it was the duty of a gentleman to take care of females such as she. See to it that they were clothed and housed and fed and, if possible, that they were happy or at least content with their lot in life. Beyond that, nothing, for these types of females didn’t impact on masculine issues. They didn’t marry and they didn’t bear children. Practically speaking they had no sex at all. There was no reason to notice a woman like her. And yet he had.” Maximus is a strong character and he has his own demons. He is every inch the stern and imperious duke, trying to avenge his parents’ double murder since he was only fourteen years old. He feels a guilt for their deaths; thus his tenure as the Ghost of St. Giles to find the killer. He also doesn’t feel he could be anything less than a duke as a tribute to his father, including marrying the right woman. We meet Artemis’ twin brother, Apollo, Lord Kilbourne, wrongly imprisoned for four long years in the hellhole of Bedlam. Artemis takes advantage of her knowledge of Maximus’ impersonation as the Ghost of St. Giles and Maximus discovers that Artemis will do anything for those she loves, even blackmail. I like the descriptions of Artemis and Apollo’s unconventional childhood, wandering the woods in their cool green solitude. “They’d been children in a family broken by madness and genteel poverty, left to run wild by parents with other cares.” When Maximus and Artemis begin a secret affair, both think it will be only temporary, as it must be. Simply put, Artemis wants him and Maximus is only too happy to make her his mistress. But they both want and wish for more. “…he couldn’t help wishing it were different. That they could lay aside their armor and find a way to have the woods around them always. A far too dangerous thought.” Miss Picklewood, Maximus’ aunt, is a wonderfully portrayed character here. She pretty much gave up a life of marriage and family to take care of Maximus and his sisters after their parents’ deaths. She understands Artemis’ frustrations at her lot in life and tries to help her understand how things must be. But she is never vindictive, never judgmental. Maximus’ valet, an older man who was valet to Maximus’ father, is also a sort of father figure to him. The scene when he takes Maximus to task for bedding Artemis is a powerful one and we see Maximus struggle with his conscience. This is a very realistic and stark story, of how circumstances can affect one’s life, dreams, and hopes for the future. But as in all historical romances, there is a happy ending after all the struggles. An impressive story in a remarkable series.
This was the first book in this series that I read. I really enjoyed the mix of murder, mystery, and romance. Max is a great character and met his match in Artemis.