Wicked Intentions, by Elizabeth Hoyt

>> Tuesday, February 05, 2013

TITLE: Wicked Intentions
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Hoyt

PAGES: 392
PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing

SETTING: Late 18th century England
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: Starts the Maiden Lane series

From the New York Times bestselling author of To Desire a Devil comes this thrilling tale of danger, desire, and dark passions.


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 . . .


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.


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.



Brie 5 February 2013 at 03:31  

I thought this book was so silly and wacky (but not in a good way)! I couldn't finish it. It was my first and last time reading Hoyt :-(

Christine,  5 February 2013 at 19:26  

I liked this book much more than you did. I am not sure if it was because I was just burnt out on fluffy settings with Dukes (why oh why must it always be a Duke?? Marquesses, Vicounts etc. live pretty well too!)that I appreciated the grittier setting and the humbler background of the heroine and her family. I pretty much chalked Caire's issues to some kind of mental problem rather than a specific and identifiable illness. I did think it was interesting that Hoyt allowed the heroine her guilty secret- which is usually not allowed for romance heroines. It's OK for the heroes of course so for me it made an interesting twist. I felt both the hero and heroine could be callous towards the other but they both seemed to like it.

Rosario 6 February 2013 at 16:56  

Brie: Don't give up on her. She can do much, much better than that. IMO, her best are her first 3 (Raven Prince, Leopard Prince and my favourite, The Serpent Prince). The setting is as vivid as here, but the plot and romance are miles better.

Rosario 6 February 2013 at 17:00  

Christine: I appreciated the setting and the heroine's background as well, I just wish the rest of the book had been as good. I guess you're probably right about Caire's condition, but then it becomes true love curing mental illness, which is just as iffy to me! As for the heroine's secret, I do agree with you that I liked that she was allowed to have that past, but it felt almost throwaway.

Have you read the rest of the series? I planned to read the whole thing, originally, but now I'm not so sure.

mepamelia 7 February 2013 at 00:00  

This is one of my favorite Hoyt books (along with "The Serpent Prince") I really enjoyed the gothic melodrama of it and even though Caire's cure came a little too easily I enjoyed his character. Like Christine, I really enjoyed the seedy and gritty setting for a change of pace in my historical romance reading.
I liked the rest of the series, but thought this one was the best of them. (Not sure that helps you decide, but...)

Rosario 7 February 2013 at 06:46  

Cheers, mepamelia! I think I might wait for her next series. I think I haven't read the last one in her previous series, so that one can tide me over!

Christine,  8 February 2013 at 03:31  

I found the subplot with her sister Silence interesting. It carries on as a subplot through the second book before she gets her own leading story in the third book. There was a lot of debate over the hero in the third book (you can probably guess who he is based on her interaction with her in this book and why he has to redeem himself). I enjoyed it. The romance in the second book is more standard, IMHO. Two aristocrats and the guy is the "black sheep" of the family. I found the first and third books more interesting. If the first book didn't grab you then the series is probably not for you.

Rosario 8 February 2013 at 07:03  

Oh, Mickey does have a lot of redeeming to do! I found his actions completely contemptible in this book, so I'd probably have trouble reading a book with him as the hero. It does sound like this is not the series for me, I'm afraid!

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