Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

You might think that by the 7th book in a series, things would be winding down a bit. It felt like things were wrapping up and all the main players were getting their happily every afters. But I believe (and I hope) that this book and the one after it is setting things up for several more books. I love this series, and I’m going to be sad when it ends. Especially now, when there’s so much unfinished business.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
A man who spent four years tortured in an asylum hides as a gardener helping to rebuild a well-known pleasure garden, but he doesn’t expect to form a relationship with a famous actress and her son. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
In reality, I could probably just say this was a BatB trope and nothing else would need to be said, because that alone would have been enough to make this book good. But there were so many other things I loved about this story. Apollo is mute due to a beating at Bedlam, which is probably okay for someone hiding from the law. But it does mean that Lily thinks he’s mentally deficient at first, which lends itself to some interesting conflict.

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Apollo is a perfect beast: silent, not handsome, scarily huge, and yet talented and kind and tortured. It really doesn’t get much better. Lily is of course drawn to him, but considering she has her own secrets and fears, it definitely feels like they belong together.

I’m not sure why children show up so often in this trope, but at least it’s not an annoying child. Indio was cute and not constantly there.

Some of the new characters introduced are interesting. Though this isn’t his first appearance, we find out some new things about Asa Makepeace (he’s definitely not the humanitarian his brother is). We also meet Lord Montgomery, who’s probably not a good guy, as he’s manipulating people and seems to have no guilt about anything (but there’s one scene in this book that makes me speculate that he’s going to get a story with another actress in a future book).

And the background of James Trevillion becomes even more interesting, as we find that he knows Apollo from a previous interaction. Also, by this time, he’s already guarding Phoebe, so the background on that story has started.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I thought that the climax and the “danger” part of the ending was a little too easy. Sure, there was some angst, but it kind of felt like a weird hodge podge of all the bad guys falling into one scene while several good guys and men of ambiguous alignment came in behind them to save the day. I won’t say it felt forced, but it was definitely less “edge of your seat” than the endings of other books.

The Romance Factor
One of my favorite parts of the romance was that Lily realizes how much she wants to be with Apollo, and then finds out he’s actually a viscount and that it won’t work. I felt so sad for her, even knowing that titled men in romance novels will always find a way to be with the woman they love, regardless of her station. Everything between Apollo and Lily was full of feels, and the fact that Apollo took nothing for granted since he never thought he’d survive Bedlam just made him that more loveable. 5/5

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The Steam Factor
The sexy times in this one were just as good as the others. I will say that one of the most sensually written scenes didn’t involve sex. You’d think that other than the voyeurism, a woman watching a man emerge from a pond wouldn’t be that titillating, right? But somehow, in this case, it’s pretty hot. 5/5

Final Thoughts
So even though I read it just a few months ago, I had to re-read Dearest Rogue again to finish the series to where it currently is. I found that the second time was just as good, possibly better because I knew all the characters this time around. The newest book comes out in November, and even though that’s right in the middle of Nanowrimo, I’ll be taking some time to devour that one too.

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