Duke of Desire (Maiden Lane Romance) by Elizabeth Hoyt (Amazon)
Description: Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him . . . only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.
A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS
Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.
CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER . . . AND DESIRE
Much to Raphael's irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involves herself in his life-and bed. Soon he's drawn both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael's past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael's own demons?
Genre: Romance - Historical
Why I Picked This Book: I've been wanting to try Hoyt's Maiden Lane series for awhile because of a number of really glowing reviews so when this book came up on NetGalley I couldn't resist.
My Impression: This was my very first book by Elizabeth Hoyt and while I had read lots of great reviews for her books I really didn't know what to expect. While I love historical romance there can sometimes be a sameness about them. Not all authors stand out but Hoyt is one of the ones who does. Her writing and the world she has created in this book - and I'm assuming the series as a whole - is like no other.
This is not a love match and really Iris and Raphael barely even know each other but the marriage is necessary for Iris's survival. I loved that while Iris doesn't blindly follow everything that Raphael tells her she also isn't so insistent on having her own way that she falls into the dreaded To Stupid To Live territory. Raphael reminded me a bit of a classic historical romance hero. He's such an alpha male that he's almost a stereotype and he has the whole tortured hero thing down. However, his baggage is seriously real and he also has a softer sweeter side and is willing to actually listen and converse with her. While he is fiercely protective of Iris (for good reason) they also develop an emotional connection that was really lovely to watch.
My main issue was the Lords of Chaos. They are most definitely villains but I struggled with their level of debauchery and cruelty. While the scenes aren't particularly graphic there is mention of sexual assault as well as sexual abuse on children which kept me from fully enjoying the novel as much as I would have without that.
While I did struggle with an issue in the plot of this particular book I'm in love with Hoyt's vivid characters and writing style. This is a world I'm already looking forward to visiting again.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Definitely! I already have a novella by Hoyt ready to go.
Would I Recommend this Book? With reservations. I love the couple and their connection but the level of darkness was a little difficult for me. Just go in prepared.