To Beguile a Beast, by Elizabeth Hoyt

>> Friday, December 04, 2009

TITLE: To Beguile a Beast
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Hoyt

PAGES: 368
PUBLISHER: Warner Forever

SETTING: 18th century England
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: 3rd in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series



Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he's kept suppressed for years begin to awaken.


Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle . . . and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won't let dust-or a beast of a man-scare her away.


Beneath Helen's beautiful fa├žade, Alistair finds a courageous and sensual woman. A woman who doesn't back away from his surliness-or his scars. But just as he begins to believe in true love, Helen's secret past threatens to tear them apart. Now both Beast and Beauty must fight for the one thing neither believed they could ever find-a happy ever after.
Alistair Munroe was horribly tortured and disfigured after taken captive in the Americas in the ambush attack that forms the basis for this series. After experiencing some very cruel reactions when appearing in public, he's exiled himself to his keep in the middle of nowhere in Scotland.

Helen has been the mistress of a duke since she was very young. In the past few years he's lost interest in her, but they have two children together, and this is a very jealous, possessive man. He's made it clear to Helen that if she ever attempts to leave him, he'll take the children, and she'll have absolutely no recourse. Before this happens, Helen decides to run away and take the children with her. But where to go?

At the end of To Seduce a Sinner, we saw the heroine, Melissande, do a bit of matchmaking by deciding that Alistair needs a housekeeper and Helen will do. Alistair doesn't agree at first that he needs or wants a housekeeper, but Helen is determined to stay and demonstrate that he does.

It was a good story, but a bit less angsty than I was expecting. No "I'm ugly -no one could want me" from Alistair! Which was pretty refreshing, actually. Still, I couldn't help but feel that there was some zing missing from the romance, nothing really keeping them apart and no reason why they couldn't have got together earlier. Other than the threat from the big, bad duke, that is, but I'll come to that later.

Both Alistair and Helen are good, decent people, but come to think of it, I was more interested in the growing relationship between Alistair and Helen's quiet, withdrawn daughter, Abigail. That was really well done, and provided a lovely insight into Alistair's initially gruff attitude.

Something I love about this series is the overarching storyline about the search for the traitor that brought about the massacre in which Alistair was injured. It's been quite prominent in previous books, but less so in this one. It seems to have been substituted by the more traditional suspense subplot of the duke's impending threat, and I thought that was less successful.

So, not the best in the series, but a good read, nonetheless.



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