Review: Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Thursday, October 17

Title:  Duke of Midnight*
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt      
Series: Maiden Lane #6    
Genre: Historical Romance      
Publisher: Forever Hachette
Format: Paperback, e-book, & Audio book              
Date/Year:  October 15, 2013
Reviewed by: Blue

*This book was won by the reviewer in a contest at another website or blog.
Summary from the publisher:

        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?

My Musings:

Elizabeth Hoyt is one of my favorite authors, and the Maiden Lane series has been outstanding.  I didn't think she could ever surpass the last installment from earlier this year LORD OF DARKNESS but she has done it with DUKE OF MIDNIGHT. 

Maximus Batten is the ever-so-proper and staid Duke of Wakefield.  He is dedicated to ensuring that his dukedom is perfect in every detail, which includes finding the perfect wife.  He approaches this task methodically, reviewing the candidates, and noting their breeding, beauty and fortune.  Maximus determines that Penelope is the best candidate, so he begins to court her, though in truth, he thinks her a ninny.

Artermis is Penelope's cousin and companion.  She's the granddaughter of an earl, but has to earn her own living.  Her fiance dumped her when her brother was wrongfully accused of murder, and subsequently declared mad and committed.  Artemis know she will never marry, and has made it her life's goal to have her brother freed.  For the present, she is treated fairly well by her cousin, who is somewhat vain and shallow, and intends to wed the Duke of Wakefield.

As Maximus proceeds with his courtship of Penelope, he begins to notice Artemis more and more.  Despite his best intentions, he likes her and is very attracted to her.  

"He followed her down the short staircase, watching her level shoulders, the vulnerable angle of her nape as she bent her head to watch her steps.  It would be the height of idiocy for the Duke of Wakefield to pursue the cousin of the woman he wanted as wife.  And yet, for the first time in his life, Maximus wanted to let the man rule him instead of the title."

Maximus begins to have light in his life, thanks to Artemis, but he won't pursue it.  He is so saddled with guilt, that even his smile has become just a slight lifting of one corner of his mouth.

**Spoiler Alert**  (if you've not read the previous books in the series, then you may not want to read the next few sentences) 

Maximus also has a secret  life.  He is one of the persons who masquerades as the Ghost of St. Giles, and he is out almost every night searching for the man who murdered his parents three years ago.  Artemis finds out about his alter ego and proceeds to blackmail him.  She'll keep his secret if he gets her brother out of the asylum.  Maximus is enraged that she would dare, and he refuses.  Artemis begins to subtly bait him in public, and this leads to a passionate private encounter, which leads eventually to an affair, and then to a love that can't be.  

DUKE OF MIDNIGHT is a powerful, emotional, and well written story.  Elizabeth Hoyt writes so well, that you can feel both Maximus' and Artemis' pain at knowing they will not spend their future together.  This is my favorite book from all of this year.  When I finished it, I immediately wanted to read it again.  I give this my highest recommendation.


Overall:  5 stars
Sensuality level:  3.5

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