Book Review: The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

I recently got to spend a day reading. I didn’t read the whole time, of course, but I did manage to finish three books, and it’s been a long time since I’ve done that. This was one of the three. I love Hoyt’s books, and since I’m currently waiting for the next Maiden Lane book to come out, I feel this may be my chance to catch up on her other series.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
A widow takes a position as secretary to a scarred earl, only to find that her feelings for him leave her willing to do scandalous things when she finds out he frequents a brothel in London. For a fully synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Things of Ill Repute
I sometimes think my little one sentence explanations make the books sound deviant and not as good as they really are. Don’t worry. In this case, we don’t actually see the earl, Edward, do any brothel-like things, at least not without Anna. The story is actually very sweet and sensual. Anna is plain and comes with trust issues since her late husband cheated on her and blamed her when they couldn’t have children. In fact, she’s just accepted it as fact that she’s barren.

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Edward wants a family, especially children, to carry on his lineage. He’s a widower whose late wife died in childbirth. But he also has trust issues since he found out that his wife had been forced to marry him and actually found him repulsive due to poxmark scars on his body and face. When he meets Anna, he’s already been courting a woman who can deal with those scars and seems fine with marrying him, if not over the moon since it’s a marriage of convenience.

Masquerade
You know who isn’t turned off or repulsed by those scars? Anna. In fact, Anna is so ready to jump Edward that when she finds out he’s going to a house of ill repute in London, she takes the opportunity to go as well. Wearing a mask so he doesn’t know it’s her, she gets what she thinks she wants (in the form of some pretty steamy sexy times) only to discover that she actually wants more…like actual feelings from him. And unfortunately, she knows she can’t have it, since Edward needs children and she can’t have any.

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I Do What I Want
So much conflict, but it’s so good. Anna’s secret, as well as the side plot of blackmail from one of her peers. draws the conflict out in the best way possible. Edward is not an ass, as many scarred (re: Beauty and the Beast trope) heroes are, and Anna serves as the “Why can’t women enjoy hot sex, too?” heroine, which I’m always a fan of. She does have a bit of a meek streak. She’s scared to let Edward know she was the one behind the mask, and she seems to cower a bit when bullied by the aforementioned blackmailing peer. But she also turns her nose up at what society deems proper in order to help a prostitute she finds sick on the side of the road.

Good Moms-In-Law Do Exist
Even though Anna’s late husband was a cheater and not very likable, I kind of loved Anna’s mother-in-law. Anna lives with the older woman, but instead of being that overbearing mother who thinks her son did no wrong, the older Wren knows what her son was like and now wants Anna to be happy. In fact, when she realizes there’s some chemistry between Anna and Edward, she encourages the relationship.

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No Tears
It seemed like there hadn’t been a huge amount of interaction and development between the two before Anna was literally crying over the fact that he didn’t seem to want her. While I completely loved the emotion and romance behind it, I also thought it seemed a little too soon for tears.

The Romance Factor
Despite the quick shed of tears, I loved Anna’s acceptance of Edward, even though he had so many moments where he thought she was repulsed by him. I also loved Edward’s inner conflict as he tried to deal with his feelings for Anna, the fact that the masked woman in the brothel made him think of Anna which made him feel like he was cheating on Anna, and the fact that he couldn’t marry Anna because of the kid thing. Talk about a hot mess. 4/5

The Steam Factor
If anyone thinks that historicals don’t match contemporaries in eroticism, they need to read a Hoyt novel. Detailed, sensual, and paced well, the sexy times in her novels never get cold. 5/5

Final Thoughts
There’s one more book in this series I need to read. While these ones don’t rank as high as the Maiden Lane books on my faves list, I’m still enjoying them. I believe this year will be the year I make it through the whole catalog of books by this author.

Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

I was sort of sad to know that this was the last of the Ghost of St. Giles books in this story arc, but I suppose it couldn’t go on forever. Third Ghost stuff below, so if you don’t want to know, better not read this review.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
A duke patrols the streets of St. Giles as the infamous Ghost to solve the mystery of who murdered his parents when he was young, but a feisty lady’s companion threatens to reveal his secret unless he helps save her brother from the insane asylum. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
After reading some other reviews, I was glad to see that I wasn’t the only one concerned about Maximus being the hero in this one, considering how much of a royal dick he was in previous books. Don’t get me wrong, I had faith that Hoyt would give him a soul, especially after she completely changed my mind about Charming Mickey, but I was still a little reluctant to like the Duke of Wakefield. In truth, I still didn’t like him as much I did the other ghosts, but he turned out alright, and when he got angsty, it really notched up the romance.

Also, can we just stop a minute to realize that a very rich man donned a mask and outfit to patrol dangerous streets and fight crime partially because his parents were murdered outside of a theater when he was young? And he’s assisted by an older man who’s been with him for years? Perhaps the author didn’t mean to go full Gotham with this, but it comes close. I mean, his last name is Batten. Come on.

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I liked that Artemis wasn’t afraid of the duke and her little jabs at him about being the Ghost, especially around other people, cracked me up. The girl was playing dirty, and I liked it.

Also…Apollo. I can’t wait for his story, not just because he’s bringing me by beloved Beauty and the Beast trope, but because he’s such a tragic character. And more Trevillion…aw yiss. Don’t mind me already swooning over here.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I liked Artemis and I liked that she was a fighter, but I also hated how she let her cousin walk all over her. I hate Penelope with a passion, and I wanted to shake Artemis for sticking up for her when she did. The woman has been vile since the first Ghost book, and I didn’t want anyone to sympathize with her…I wanted them to smack her.

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The Romance Factor
Overlooking the fact that Maximus seemed to think it would be acceptable to make Artemis his mistress while planning to marry her cousin, the angst was high. Artemis, of course, was having none of that, and just knowing how tortured he was over it was enough to give me some feels…even if I didn’t want to like the guy. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Here’s the thing about this one. It maintained the high sexy factor of the other books, and all the sex scenes were intense and titillating. But I like it when the hero does a little more to seduce the heroine, and I kind of thought Maximus had it a little easy. I mean, he just says “You’re sleeping with me” and Artemis is like “Okay.” At least that’s what it felt like. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Though slightly redeemed, Maximus still wasn’t a super likable hero. Still, I felt good about their HEA, especially after he decided to help her with the Apollo situation. Artemis made the book, and I loved the set up for the next novel in the series. This one wasn’t my favorite, but it was still awesome.

The Heir by Johanna Lindsey

I’ve read this book about seven or eight times. Every couple years, I get the urge to read it again, probably because I love the imperfect heroine and the friends to lovers trope that goes with it. This is obviously an older book, but for me, it’s one that still holds up.

The Heir

One-Sentence Synopsis
A Scottish Lord becomes friends with a woman who’s name is attached to scandal and finds himself falling in love with her despite his grandfathers’ machinations and the gossip and drama from his spoiled betrothed. Read the fully synopsis on this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
This book is sweet. I love the friendship between the main characters and how it very subtly shifts. Duncan and Sabrina have a great chemistry, and I’m a sucker for the heroine who’s plain and doesn’t think she’s worthy of the hunky hero. The antagonist, Ophelia, is a character you just love to hate, though it makes it easier knowing she gets her own story in the sequel to this one.

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Also, this book features one of my favorite first kiss scenes ever. Outside in a thunderstorm. I don’t know why it’s my favorite, but it gives me warm fuzzies every time I read it.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
Every time I read this book, I find the Scottish grandfather more annoying and meddlesome. He’s shallow and narrow minded and doesn’t know when to shut up.

The Romance Factor
5/5. This trope makes me happy, and I love that these two have to overcome many obstacles to get their HEA. Also, sad Duncan is adorable.

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The Steam Factor
Though sweet, this book isn’t over the top with the sex scenes. However, the “accidental” carriage lovemaking is fun, and sexy times on the bear skin rug is a little blush inducing. 3/5.

Final Thoughts
Johanna Lindsey was one of my first and favorite authors. Some of her more recent books don’t resonate with me like her older ones, so I’m glad I have ones like this that I can re-read over and over and never get tired of.