Wednesday, June 20, 2018

TBR Challenge: Elizabeth Hoyt - Duke of Midnight

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 . . .
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 . . .
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?

Comment: This is June's entry of the TBR Challenge, hosted by Wendy, the Superlibrarian. This time, the theme is Comfort Read, which can be interpreted in different ways but for me it means something we can be assured of, something we can more or less expect and trust to be good or something that simply will make us feel good and happy about what we are reading about. Depending on the reader's preferences, this can mean any genre but for me, I tend to always fall into romances where I know I'll enjoy the road towards the HEA.
Besides, I'm currently trying to go through Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series and book #6 was the next one, so i chose it because I've come to realize I absolutely love the mix of romance and world building the author presents in the series, which makes this a comfort reading for me.

In this sixth installment we have the story of Maximus Batten, the duke of Wakefield, a character we've met in previous books and Artemis Graves, a somewhat more reserved character. They come from different places in the social hierarchy but since Artemis' cousin is one of the prospective women the duke might consider as a bride, they know of one another even if they never really interacted.
However, after a silly excursion to st Giles one night, Artemis and her cousin Penelope are attacked and then saved by the Ghost of St Giles. In the process, the ghost loses a ring, which Artemis keeps and later on she comes to the realization of who the ring belongs to, thus discovering the identity of the ghost. 
Maximus only wants to finally catch the responsible for the murder of his parents but it's been a dreary and sometimes depressing endeavor. Now, he feels he is close to finally achieve his main goal but he wasn't counting on taking notice of his bride-to-be companion. But as time goes by and his life gets more and more complicated, especially after said companion tries to blackmail him, he must decide if his priorities are as easy as he always thought them to be...

This is one of those series one should read in order. Of course each story can be read as  stand alone because the plot structure is solid but there's a lot to gain from having previous information. This is why I was so eager to read this book, I've liked the little hints here and there about each protagonist and really wanted to see them together. Although their story was mostly a good one, I also admit I sort of expected even more from this one.

What I liked the best was the fact they came from different social status and I wanted to see how the author would deal with this. Rationally, I know dukes wouldn't consider companions to be possible brides but let's be honest, we read fictional historical romance for such accuracy? Of course we want things to make sense, to respect conventions and the fun part is to see how the story progresses despite those "rules". But at the same time, for me, the fantasy of the whole thing is what makes it worthwhile, I want to immerse myself in a romantic story, even if it's unlikely. 
Therefore, I expected this here and I was positively surprised the author didn't avoid the conversations they had about society's expectations, about the why of their relationship not being easily gave the story credibility when the HEA finally happens, they weren't just silly people forgetting everything else.

However, their relationship wasn't the perfection I envisioned. I liked Artemis has secrets and a personality so I can't dislike her for being a person with feelings but having to comply with her position as a companion and her fear about the things (and person) she wanted to protect and help. I understand she knew she wouldn't have a happy, free life. But it did sort of annoy my romantic expectations she wasn't a bit more fearful about outcomes of her decisions, even if I respect her thinking on it. I wanted things to be romanticized and not as raw as they felt sometimes (I mean their choice of how to deal with the physical side of things vs people's POVs and judgment of it).
Maximus could have also done things differently, he was a serious and aware man regarding his position in life and how he should behave. I think he could have had more consideration for Artemis.

Since both protagonist have secrets, part of out perception about their falling in love is how they managed to trust the other with those secrets and why each one figured out how important those things were for the other. It's always nice to see two different people find balance and trust in one another. But even accepting some little angst about their different class stations (a trope I usually like seeing by the way), I still think that for such clever people they didn't consider some details that well and yes, that ruined part of the fun for me.

One of the best features keeps on being the appearances of characters we came to care about. It's so nice to see none of the characters live in an island, meaning, the story isn't only about them but features those who are close to them somehow.
We also have glimpses of characters who will  become future protagonists and, of course, that keeps the reader's appetite on. As always, the story felt fluid and the writing is easy to follow.

I did like this story when I think about it in general. I'd change some details though, and that's why my grade isn't bigger. But I was so eager to read this one that I feel I couldn't consider it better because of this and, now that I thought about it, the HEA was very cute but felt incomplete. I surely hope to see them again in future books, to better solidify the notion of the everlasting happiness they were supposed to hold on to.
Grade: 8/10

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