Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #9
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Asa Makepeace
Heroine: Eve Dinwoody
Date of Publication: November 24, 2015
Started On: May 24, 2016
Finished On: May 27, 2016
I have been meaning to dive into this delectable novel for quite sometime now. Crista on Goodreads is a romance reader whose tastes fairly match that of mine. So I make it a point every now and then to grab some recommendations off her shelf of books, which is how this sweet number caught my eye. This was not my first Hoyt novel as I had previously sampled her talent through her novel The Raven Prince which I reviewed way back in 2012.
Sweetest Scoundrel is book 9 in the Maiden Lane series. Though I picked this novel up without having read the rest of the novels prior to this in the series, I had no trouble at all in picking up the story and I believe this works perfectly well as a standalone. However, having since then gone back and sampled the rest of the novels in the series, I have to say that the full impact of meeting some of the secondary characters that makes their way into the story might not be felt if you decide to pick this up like I did. Nevertheless the enjoyment factor when it comes right down to it is not affected in anyway.
Asa Makepeace is the owner of the pleasure garden known as Harte’s Folly, though few know of the fact, especially not his family. Asa has a chip on his shoulder the size of Manhattan itself when it comes to letting his family know how he earns his living. Though when I first heard of the term “pleasure gardens”, I thought to myself it must be something akin to a brothel or the likes of it, which must be the reason why Asa was so reluctant for his siblings to know of his occupation, I was proven wrong as I read along. I realized that the term was used to denote places which were highly popular in the 17th, 18th and 19th century as a place where patrons can buy tickets to gain entrance and then enjoy a variety of performances such as plays, operas, and symphonies, and even enjoy a meal or two and explore the gardens within which the whole thing takes place. Asa’s reluctance for his family to know that he is the owner of the place stems from his childhood, and the fact that the Makepeace family is fairly religious considering all things.
Sweetest Scoundrel begins at a point where Asa runs into a bit of a trouble with Harte’s Folly being reduced to ashes in a fire, which meant having to start all over. Running short of the kind of capital required to do that, Asa had taken the helping hand lent by the Duke of Montgomery, which is how Asa’s life is invaded by Eve Dinwoody, the Duke’s half sister.
Eve is described as a woman with plain features, someone men would not notice all that much at a first or even third glance. That is what happens with Asa as well when Eve practically forces her way into his business activities, throwing Asa’s life into disarray of the kind he starts to find appealing in a way he never thought possible. But Eve’s past is mired in the kind of darkness and violence that has held her a captive of its memories, leading Eve to live a life half-lived, under the protection afforded by those that she keeps close to her heart.
Working with Asa in close proximity makes Eve stand up and notice things she would not have if otherwise. And for the very first time in Eve’s life, in Asa’s warm and passionate embrace, Eve finds within herself the courage to step outside of the circle that binds and shackles her to the past, a way to break free of the mold that every one has pretty much thought was a given where she was concerned.
Hoyt’s stories aren’t just plain romance novels. There is so much more happening in each and every single one of her stories that I have read since picking up Sweetest Scoundrel to read. There is of course romance of the kind that makes your heart go pitter-patter, there is the factor of enchantment to her stories via the chapter openers that precede every single chapter with a mini fairy tale that keeps you turning the pages. There is also the portion of mystery that adds in the intrigue factor and that is what makes reading a Hoyt novel an experience of the kind you would not find elsewhere.
Asa is a hero well crafted. He is handsome, earthy, passionate and virile in a way that makes your insides go hot in just the merest of seconds. He is also a straightforward kind of character that makes him more endearing in my eyes. There are so many novels out there, especially historical romances where characters always talk in double entendres that can be quite tiring, perhaps an effort by the author to make his or her characters sound overly intelligent. Thus, I appreciate candid honesty in characters because I tend to be a pretty straightforward person myself.
I loved Asa for so many things, the utmost of reasons being his patience when it comes to dealing with Eve. It is not easy for a woman such as Eve to give into her desire to touch and be touched by a man such as Asa. Not because he is a brute or scares her in that sense, but because of a past that makes her reluctant to even test the waters when it comes to the opposite sex. Eve’s courage when it came right down to it was something that I approved of wholeheartedly. There is being afraid and there is being stubborn and mule headed enough not to want to change. I was glad that Eve belonged to a category of her own and charted her own path towards what was best for her. Some of the scenes of passion are downright hot and steamy! Whoever said that historical romance writers do not know how to steam up a carriage window have not been reading right!
Sweetest Scoundrel is a novel that all romance readers, especially those who love unconventional historical romances ought to read. I friggin’ loved the whole thing!
Final Verdict: Rich in detail & multi-layered in characterization, Sweetest Scoundrel makes for a beguiling read!
She lifted her chin. “Then I suppose our discussion is done.”
She turned to go, but he had a hard grip on her upper arm, pulling her back.
“Not yet it’s not,” he growled.
She fought down the old, nauseous fear. “Let go of me.”
“Why?” He cocked his head, an ugly sneer on his beautiful lips. “Can’t stand my touch?”
“Yes!” she tossed back, losing her patience, her self-control, and any upper hand she’d ever had in their argument.
Which was when he took her by the shoulders, pulled her roughly into his arms, and pressed his mouth to hers.
And Eve lost her sanity.
Her breath caught on the thought. Was he saying that a woman would put her hands—her mouth—there?
Her bodice felt suddenly too tight as her breaths became faster. She didn’t know where to look: at those long fingers massaging his own leg or his glinting, knowing green eyes.
“And of course,” he continued, “a woman can pleasure herself—with her hand—and a man…” His hand drifted up, straight to the top of his widely spread legs. He gripped himself frankly—lewdly—and looked at her.
She lost all sense of propriety. All sense of place and time and who he was and who she was.
She stared back into those sensuous green eyes and whispered, “Show me.”
Her nostrils flared as she inhaled. There was a musky scent in the air, salty and animal, and it made her clench her legs together.
He grinned suddenly, his white teeth gritted together, as if he knew what he did to her. His fist was moving faster now, the deep red head of his cock appearing and disappearing between his fingers. It shone, fully revealed, and so big she bit her lip.
“Now,” he grunted. “Now, Eve, watch me. Are you watching me?”
“Yes,” she moaned.
The muscles stood out in his neck as a white liquid erupted from his cock, flowing and spurting, his legs shaking, his hand slowing.
And the entire time he watched her.
He couldn’t take it anymore.
He wrapped his hand around the back of her head and pulled her up, pulled her across his chest, pulled her into a kiss so filthily explicit his tongue might as well have been fucking her mouth.
They groaned in unison and he wrapped his hand over hers, forcing her fingers tight around his erection, showing her how to pull up, the loose skin sliding over his hot core—oh, sweet, sweet God—and down, fisting tight, moving faster, his hips pumping up into their shared grasp.
She moaned and his hips jerked at the sound.
And then she sucked his tongue and hot pleasure speared him. He convulsed, spunk spewing over his fingers, over hers. He smeared them both in it as he yanked himself through it, shuddering.
She wanted to ride him, wanted to hide him away in her bedroom, to use only for herself.
She was jealous of every woman who had come before her. Had used this wonderful penis. Had heard his groan.
She opened her eyes. But it was the women who would come after that she truly wanted to kill.
He was hers. He should never share this part of himself with anyone else.
She threw back her head, riding him hard, the sweat sliding down between her breasts. He lurched up, half sitting, his arm propping him up, and licked the sweat from her body.
She cried out, gasping, holding his head to her even as he sucked one nipple into his mouth. She felt the pull, felt the answering gush, and knew she was falling apart, spreading outward, a star exploding.
He gasped and let go of her breast, bowing his head to her chest, his hair wild and tangled against her as he groaned and shook.
She felt heat inside her and rose one last time, spreading wide her thighs, shoving him as deep inside her as she could.
Trying to keep him forever.
“Because I deserve more,” she said. “I deserve a man who loves me above all else. I deserve a family and happiness.”
“Then go!” he growled. “Go off and find this mythical man and spread your legs for him if it’ll give you what you want.”
She took two strides toward him and slapped him, quick and hard, and then her eyes widened as she realized what she’d done. “Oh, I’m sorry.”
He turned his face back to her slowly, almost lazily. “I’m not.”
And then she was in his arms, his mouth on hers, wild and hot and dangerously close to out of control. He thrust his hand into her hair, holding her head immobile, and ravished her mouth, biting, tonguing, thrusting.
She remembered her hand and how to work it, tearing open his falls and the smallclothes beneath. Her breaths were coming in hot little pants now and she stared up at him as she took him into her fist. She would remember this. She’d remember this until her dying day, she promised herself.
“Ah, Eve,” he groaned, his head falling back, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. He thrust once, convulsively, into her hand, and then he was lifting and spreading her legs, taking his cock out of her hand, thrusting into her.
She gasped, it was so fast. A complete possession.