Series: Maiden Lane #9
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Grand Central Publishing on 24 November 2015
Asa has been spending inordinate amounts of the Duke of Montgomery’s money to rebuild his beloved pleasure gardens but Montgomery’s sister, Eve, is about to put a stop to it. Her brother left her in charge of his affairs and she is determined to get a return on his investment. If that means sorting out the accounts herself and sparring with Asa, then so be it. Sparks fly fairly quickly while they try to get the pleasure gardens ready to open on time.
I’m glad that Hoyt has finally given Asa a book. He was the black sheep of the Makepeace family and as so little was revealed about him, I had no idea what he had done to earn that moniker.
The good bits
For all Asa’s crude and rude language, he was surprisingly tender and supportive of Eve’s PTSD. He knew that she was petrified of dogs and being touched so rather than forcing the issue he let her set the pace. Hoyt has given a wide range of heroes in this series and in Asa we find a man who isn’t afraid to say what he thinks, is relatively angst free (compared to the other heroes in the series) and is full of passion for both his theatre and life. I particularly enjoyed his interactions with his estranged family who had no idea what he’d been doing for the past few years.
It was a pleasure to see Eve develop from an inhibited woman who was slavishly devoted to her brother and terrified of men to one who was comfortable living in her own skin. By the end of the novel she had acquired a group of friends and a man who adored her. Asa annoyed and provoked her into living and these scenes were often quite humorous as he rarely realised the effect he was having. Given Eve’s reticence for physical contact, there is a big build up of sexual tension and saucy encounters before they finally have sex.
Kudos to Hoyt for including an interracial relationship between two secondary characters as historical romances often tend to be exclusively white.
The not so good bits
The mystery behind who wanted to destroy Harte’s Folly was fairly lacklustre as there was only really one possible candidate. It could have been easily improved if a few more red herrings were sprinkled throughout. The reason for the attacks would have been more plausible if the guilty person had received a little more page time to hint at their motives.
The big conflict between hero and heroine was over so quickly that you could be excused for missing it. I get that Hoyt was trying to balance the book out so that Asa’s growth was as strong as Eve’s but it wasn’t integrated well.
A strong historical romance that was a delight to read. You can read it as a standalone book but I think you would enjoy the characters and the plot more if you read the others first.