Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Darling Beast (Maiden Lane #7) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown's soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he's quickly driven to distraction . . .

London's premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she's forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren't the only inhabitants—a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there's more to this man than meets the eye.

Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he's forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.

Type: Historical Romance
Heat: 3 out of 5--though very limited
Rating: 4 out of 5

Amazon | All Romance | Book Depository | BAM | Goodreads

I'll admit. I get a little giddy picking up one of Hoyt's historicals. They're seductive and enchanting with just a touch of darkness that gives them incredible depth and layers. And, yeah, Darling Beast...I couldn't put it down! It held me in it's grasp from page one and completely consumed my time as a ruined Pleasure Garden brings together two unlikely souls--an escapee from Bedlam and a down on her luck actress--who are both hiding life altering secrets that come crashing down around them.

The quick of it is that without knowing it both Apollo and Lily have made the ruined gardens and theatre their refuge. They each desperately need the gardens to be brought back to life and become profitable but it's a slow process and one filled with unexpected surprises...namely each other. But her young son in his explorations stumbles upon Apollo working one day and their unlikely friendship soon brings Apollo and Lily into each other's lives and eventually sparks...oh they do fly.

Apollo and Lily. Oh man. Beauty and the Beast. And every inch of them fabulous. With Apollo in hiding from the authorities and mute--while in Bedlam he was beaten so badly he lost his voice--...first appearances are...tenuous to say the least and it's only with her son's persistence that the two start seeing each other differently. And that there's more to each other than meets the eye.

I loved these two together. He's strong and masculine but far from what most would call handsome but to Lily he's beautiful. And to her son someone to adore. And that just made me do that whole girly sigh thing. They made such a sweet trio once they got past the rocky first moments and initial impressions of one another. It was lovely watching them all get to know each other with picnics and little stolen moments. And very interesting as well since like I mentioned Apollo was mute for much of their time together and they had to figure out different ways to communicate.
"Have I told you how much I admire your hair?"

"It's just plain brown," she murmured.

"Plain, lovely brown," he replied, raising a lock he'd freed to his face.

"Are you smelling my hair?" she asked in amusement.


"Silly man," she said lightly.

"Smitten man." he corrected, spreading her hair over her shoulders.
No matter their connection as things go on they both really struggle with their desires and insecurity. Him because of his looks. Her because of their class differences--he's part of Society and she a mere actress. But it's not made all angsty which I appreciated. Okay, there's some angsty bits as their secrets are uncovered and the charges of murder against him explored but it's some well placed angst for sure and nicely done.

There's a spot of darkness that winds through things as the two fall for each other which I really enjoyed. Bedlam, murder, people being framed and manipulated, madness. It makes for such a fascinating and layered experience as things unfold and truths about each of their pasts are uncovered. Parts break your heart and others are just infuriating but it's all interesting seeing the struggles and lengths people will go to to get what they want and what others will do to survive it.

All in all, Hoyt brought together wonderfully unique characters and created a lush and intriguing romance that was impossible to resist and left me panting for more. Not only was the romance utterly beautiful and heartwarming but the bits of humor and addition of fabulous secondary characters--who I seriously hope we'll see more of in the future--made Darling Beast just a delightful reading experience and proved once again why Hoyt is one of the best.

OH! And a note for Elizabeth *waves* I just have one little thing. Montgomery. I know he's a bit...well, him...but I'm really gonna need his book. Really. I just LOVED him!

Have you read Hoyt? Have a favorite?
Do you like the beauty and the beast set ups?

More Hoyt on herding cats!

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