>> Tuesday, February 05, 2013
From the New York Times bestselling author of To Desire a Devil comes this thrilling tale of danger, desire, and dark passions.
A MAN CONTROLLED BY HIS DESIRES...
Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows St. Giles like the back of her hand-she's spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk . . .
A WOMAN HAUNTED BY HER PAST...
Caire makes a simple offer-in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to London's high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control-one that may well destroy them both.
A BARGAIN NEITHER COULD REFUSE
Temperance Dews and her brother run a foundling home in the desperately poor and dangerous London parish of St. Giles. It was established by their father and a generous patron, but now both have died and the home is struggling financially.
Temperance finds a potential, if risky way out when she's approached by Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire. Caire is searching for a murderer in St. Giles, and he's getting nowhere, as people just will not speak to him. He and Temperance make a deal: if she will act as his guide and use her connections in the area to make people a bit more forthright with him, he'll provide an introduction to respectable society events, and ensure she meets potential patrons for the foundling home. But, of course, this being a romance novel, what's supposed to be a business transaction becomes much more due to their attraction to each other.
Hoyt has written some excellent books, which I've loved, but this isn't one of them. I found it very disappointing. The one element of it that I liked was the setting and atmosphere of St. Giles, which is excellently done. It's vivid and scary and feels real. Other than that? Meh.
I found Caire especially problematic. Hoyt tries to write him as tortured and complex, but he just never gels, and comes across as half-baked. The perfect example of that is the big drama about how he feels pain when anyone touches him, but not when he initiates the contact. So many issues with that! 1) It's never explained why this is the case, and the whole thing seems to come and go. 2) The way it's resolved is just as mysterious and laughable. 3) The contrived way the whole thing works means he can only have sex with a woman he's tied down. This is just a cheap way of introducing some mild bondage and make reference to his dark sexual appetites, without shocking mainstream readers with actual BDSM.
It was all "oh, look how tortured he is! He doesn't feel anything!". He's such a 'tortured' man that he's a complete jerk to Temperance for no reason for a lot of the book, that's how. I lost patience with him before long, and with his mission to find the murderer. That never makes any sense at all. Over and over, he keeps putting the woman he's beginning to care about in really severe danger (which he knows is so) for no reason. Caire himself acknowledges at one point that the hunt for his mistress's murderer isn't really motivated by anything other than the fact he doesn't care, but he should, which is just puzzling thinking.
Temperance... well, she's supposed to be tortured as well, and have this secret pain, but really, blah. Their relationship development seems to mainly consist on sex scenes, which I found pretty boring.
The plot is contrived and nonsensical, but I'm pretty sure that exact same set-up and the deal Temperance and Caire make could be made into something perfectly serviceable, even great, if only the characters' motivations were sorted out and made a bit more sense. What's just unfixable is the resolution of the case, which is ridiculous and cartoonish, with a villain who makes even less sense than the main characters. And that, I must say, is quite a feat.
MY GRADE: A C-.