Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #4
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Winter Makepeace
Heroine: Isabel Beckinhall
Date of Publication: July 1, 2012
Started On: June 15 2016
Finished On: June 22, 2016
Towards the end of Scandalous Desires, book 3 in the Maiden Lane series, there comes perhaps a startling discovery for some, and for the rest, something that they might have already been suspicious of when it comes to Winter Makepeace. Winter’s role in the home for foundling children has made him a very prominent secondary character in the past 3 novels, one that endears readers to only part of who he is. By day, he is the controlled, stoic headmaster of the home, and at night, he assumes the persona of the Ghost of St. Giles, a figure revered and feared in equal doses, a man who keeps to the shadows of the night and hunts those that preys on the weak.
Isabel Beckinhall the Baroness of Beckinhall, who is widowed at a young age, makes her free of certain restrictions when it comes to moving about in the society. Becoming a patroness of the foundling home gives her a sense of purpose, something she actually looks forward to in a way that perhaps helps heal the broken aspects of her heart and soul. When she encounters the injured Ghost of St. Giles, even though she is much curious and more than a little intrigued about the identity behind the mask, she respects the Ghost’s wishes and refrains from inquiring further. Little does she know that the Ghost is none other than Winter, a man whom she thinks to be too rigid and dour faced to be of an interest to her.
When Winter’s role as the headmaster of the foundling home is thrown into jeopardy, it is up to Isabel to teach him of the ways to move about in the elite of the society. Thus Isabel embarks upon a dangerous mission in more ways than one. A particularly precarious one to her heart when it is in danger of sliding into being utterly in love with Winter, Isabel becoming the one ensnared in the risky venture of teaching Winter the art of seduction and more.
Hoyt has a way of taking on tried and tested tropes in the world of romance and bringing something fresh and vivid to readers at the same time. In Thief of Shadows, Isabel is the older heroine, the experienced widow who takes on lovers of the same kind, that is until she is taken in the arms of Winter Makepeace. Winter is younger than Isabel by many years, inexperienced and a virgin to boot, which makes him doubly more delicious in a certain sense. His inexperience does not stop him from becoming a lethal force to be reckoned with in the bedroom and out of it, his nocturnal activities bringing danger of a whole different kind to his doorstep as he grows more and more weary of his chosen path in life.
Winter has lived a life of self-imposed control and and rules that had never left him wanting before. However, with Isabel in his life, the vividity of life that she brings to his otherwise dark, dull and grey existence is one that he is hard pressed to turn away from. Little by little, Winter learns that he could have a life that includes Isabel as the woman by his side, the woman who manages to turn his world upside down just by walking into the same room.
In Winter, Isabel finds the room to grow, to seek solace of a kind she never thought would ever come her way. Scarred in a way she never admitted to even herself, it is Winter who brings to her life something she has always yearned for, but has completely turned her mind away from because of the futility in wishing for something she is no longer capable of. That alone was a beautiful aspect of the story and I loved Winter wholeheartedly for how he dealt with Isabel’s wounds. For Isabel, there is no turning away from the man who sees her, really sees her, the woman behind the facade she presents to the rest of the world.
It takes a writer of immense talent to keep up the momentum of a series through each and every single book. Hoyt has managed to do that and more in the Maiden Lane series, which is why I would recommend these hot and delectable reads of love, mystery, and steamy sex to all romance readers out there!
Final Verdict: Steals your heart, storms your emotions and leaves you begging for more!
“Would you like me more if I knew how to simper and twist my words?” he demanded.
His sudden aggression made her reply without thinking, straight from her heart. “No. I like you as you are.”
She licked her lips at her admission and his gaze settled broodingly on her mouth. It felt like a brand, that look. A physical touch more intimate than any embrace. Her lips parted in wonder and his eyes rose slowly to meet hers, for once unshielded.
Dear God, what she saw in that look! How he had hidden these many years behind the guise of a simple schoolmaster, she didn’t know. Anger, passion, lust, and surging hunger swirled in his stormy eyes. Emotions so stark, so strong, she didn’t understand how he kept them under control. He looked as if he were about to attack her, ravish her, and conquer London and the world itself. He could’ve been a warrior, a statesman, a king.
She opened her lips against his. He claimed her like a barbarian marauder. The kiss was rough, unpracticed, and without finesse, and yet Isabel felt a trembling thrill go through her. She was used to civilized embraces, carefully thought out, impeccably implemented. Mannered and cool. The Ghost of St. Giles, in contrast, was a storm breaking over her, all passion and emotion.
All real man.
She felt his arms come about her, pulling her tight against his chest as he bent her helplessly, lost, falling, her heart half beating out of her breast. And she knew—she knew—that she kissed not only the Ghost of St. Giles, but Winter Makepeace as well.
His eyes opened, his sensuous upper lip twisting in a snarl. “I’ll never forget you no matter what.”
And he grasped her hips firmly, shoving up into her. He was untried, inelegant, jerky, and rough—and she loved it.
She flung back her head and laughed breathlessly.
“Damn you,” he growled, jamming himself in and out of her, his cock ruthless and hard. “Do it.”
She looked down at him, a goddess supreme. “Fuck, you mean?”
His eyes narrowed to slits. “Make love. Make love to me. Now.”
“Slowly,” he whispered, and covered her mouth with his.
For a moment she forgot everything. His tongue was in her mouth, warm and strong, masculine and insistent, and his cock was pushed so far inside her that her feminine lips were spread wide. He had her. He was in control.
Then he began walking, still kissing her, and the motion was exquisitely seductive, a subtle nudging, a sweet, rhythmic rocking.
She moaned against his lips. “Winter.”
“Yes,” he murmured back. “Yes.”
Then her back was against a wall and he’d braced his legs. Suddenly he was driving into her. Fast. Hard. Deep. Exactly right.
His teeth were bared, his lips pulled back, and his eyes glittered as he stared at her. “Yes.”
“Now,” he whispered, and withdrew his cock an incremental amount. So tiny, less than an inch, surely. So small it should hardly matter at all.
But when he thrust back inside her, quick and hard and nearly brutal, the movement sent her hips grinding against his hand, trapped between her and the mattress. Sent her gasping for breath as the sensation spurred all her nerve endings to a nearly painful pleasure.
“I love you,” he whispered as he thrust again. And again. Each movement controlled. Each small movement devastating in its effect. “I love you.”
She lost all concept of time. She lost her place and surroundings. She couldn’t remember who he was—who she was. She lost her mind.
“So brave,” he murmured into her hair, stroking it. “So beautiful and brave.”
“I’m not beautiful,” she rasped. “You shouldn’t see me like this.”
She must look like a hag, and the horror of her gauche tantrum and her naked vulnerability made her hide her face in his shoulder.
But he placed a gentle palm under her chin and turned her face back to him. “I’m privileged to see you like this,” he said, his eyes fierce. “Wear your social mask at your balls and parties and when you visit your friends out there, but when we are alone, just the two of us in here, promise me this: that you’ll show me only your true face, no matter how ugly you might think it. That’s our true intimacy, not sex, but the ability to be ourselves when we are together.”