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REVIEW: Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

Dear Ms. Hoyt,

I have enjoyed your previous books a great deal, particularly your first trilogy that began with The Raven Prince. While I was a bit disappointed with your last book, overall I have found you to be a solid author with three-dimensional characters, strong plots and fabulous love-scenes. I've been looking forward to your Maiden Lane series ever since I read the preview of Wicked Intentions at the back of To Desire a Devil.

Like your other series, Wicked Intentions, is set in the 18th century. However, this one is set somewhat earlier than previous books. The year is1737 and I thought this was an interesting choice. Although it doesn't come into play much in this first book of the series-‘whose story really could have occurred at any point between 1676 and 1825-‘it did make me wonder whether the choice of such an early date in the 18th century would come into play later in future books. Readers of an historical bent will realize that 1737 is, of course, before both the 1745 Rebellion and the Hardwicke Marriage Act. But other than that curiosity, the date seemed to be of little importance to the overall plot arc of this particular book.

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth HoytIn the slums of St. Giles, Temperance Dews is making her way back to the foundling home she runs with her brother, Winter. With her is the home's lone maidservant, Nell and the silent, sickly infant they had ventured into the evening to fetch before any worse fate could befall it. As anyone whose ever read historical romance knows, the streets of St. Giles are dangerous at any time of day, but particularly so at night. Not that any quarter of any city, ever in the history of the universe, has ever gotten safer at night, which is why the two women are in such a rush to get home. Nell is not just uneasy because of the usual dangers of a slum at night but because of the Ghost of St. Giles, the specter of a dead Harelquin, who, rumor has it, is haunting St. Giles with murder and mayhem in his quest for revenge. Temperance takes this information with a grain of salt but it doesn't make her any happier to be abroad at night, especially, when they stumble upon the grisly sight of a man, black-cloaked and with long white hair, leaning over a corpse. This nefarious personage is not the Ghost of St. Giles but Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, who Nell isn't any happier to see than if he were the Ghost of St. Giles.

They scurry past Lord Caire, because only the stupid stop in the dead of night in a slum. Or when they are too cheap to pay for a cab back to the city and end up taking the J train through Cypress Hills at 2am-‘ahem, not that I've ever done that or anything. -coughs-   But this is not to be the last Temperance sees of Lord Caire. Oh no. Not even that night. Back at the foundling home, when everyone has settled to bed and the adventures of the night seem to be just a memory, Lord Caire shows up in Temperance's favorite chair with an indecent proposal. Not the kind that Robert Redford made to Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson. No. What Lord Caire wants is a guide through the slums of St. Giles. And when I say he shows up, I mean he just appears out of freakin' nowhere. I still haven't a clue how he got into the house. He's got some skills, that Lord Caire does.

Thus our plot: Lord Caire has been busily searching for his mistress's murderer on evidence that can be generally categorized as "little" and specifically categorized as "crap all." Temperance and her brother, meanwhile, are facing the impending eviction of themselves, Nell and their 28 little charges from the foundling home due to lack of funds since the death of their patron. A bargain is promptly struck. Temperance will help Lord Caire search St. Giles in return for his paying their back rent, lending them some operating money, and introducing Temperance to potential patrons.

But nothing's so simple. In the first place, nobody wants to talk to Lord Caire very much. Not only because of his own terrible reputation but because of the questions he's asking. Even with Temperance in tow and a generous amount of bribes, nobody is keen on giving them a lead. Add to that the fact that every one of their witnesses either is dead before they get there or dead soon thereafter and you can see where this might cause problems for a murder investigation. In 1737, the Bow Street Runners did not exist. There wasn't really a police, just the watch and if Much Ado About Nothing can be judged as giving an accurate viewpoint of that group even 200 years after it was written, then the watch wasn't a very effective means of, you know, policing things. So Temperance and Lord Caire are on their own, murder investigation wise.

Things are further complicated by Temperance's family, who is not at all pleased with this arrangement, although none of them have any better solution to the problem of the foundling home. Like I said, Lord Caire has a very bad reputation. Not as bad as the Ghost of St. Giles, who everyone now believes is the one that committed the murder, but bad enough that at one point all three of Temperance's brothers show up to yell at her. Lord Caire has strange tastes in bedsport. But who doesn't these days? Eh? Not that this intimidates Temperance, who is drawn to both Lord Caire and the idea of his perversions.

Some romances are about the detectives falling in love with each other as they solve the crime. This isn't one of those stories. The mystery is like a foil to the burgeoning relationship between Caire and Temperance and also, the opportunity for it to take root. That isn't to say there is not who-dunnnit aspect to this book. I just wouldn't call it a mystery because it doesn't truly proceed like one. The mystery is there really to reflect the personal demons each has; to thwart both Caire and Temperance in achieving their goals, and to highlight their personal flaws. St. Giles is frustratingly obscure and silent on this murder. Every piece of information leads to a dead end. The frustration that this causes is reflected by the fact that Lord Caire doesn't really understand his motivations for trying to solve his mistress's murder. He never loved the woman and in two years barely spoke to her. As for Temperance, she is barely given a chance to look for a patron, her excursions into the ton as equally frustrating as Lord Caire's excursions into St. Giles.   All in all, this is a book that's really about the emotional landscapes of the hero and heroine, not the suspense of an unsolved murder. The mystery is just a means of revealing that landscape.

Temperance is unusual in some respects to the average romance novel heroine. She doesn't come from money or gentility. The Makepeaces (that being her maiden name) are an educated family but their father was a beer brewer and not a particularly wealthy one at that. To call them gentility would be stretching that word to its breaking point. Her late husband was only a school-teacher and while she is respectably middle-class, she is neither distantly related to the aristocracy nor ambitious to join those ranks.

As for Lord Caire, he both is and isn't your typical hero. He reminded me, with his long white hair and black walking stick, of an anime character and though he was described as being large, I pictured him as being quite slender and effete. Typically, he's out to solve a mystery and avenge his mistress's death; but, like I said earlier, he wasn't in love with her at all. There were no emotions. Lord Caire isn't a rake. Rather, again, I felt as if he were an anime vampire. He's not a vampire, so don't get your hopes up (or down), but he does have vampiric qualities. In the first place, he doesn't have any emotions, which is what I meant when I said he wasn't at all in love with his mistress. He feels nothing. He's emotionally dead. He also dislikes being touched and has weird sexual proclivities. Well, weird for people in 1737 who didn't have the broadening experience of watching HBO's Real Sex on TV for years and thus becoming completely immune to other people's perversions. Although, why anyone would want to shag a clown is beyond me.

Speaking of clowns, the Ghost of St. Giles is another aspect of this book that made me think, if not of anime, then of the comic book. St. Giles itself as a setting had all the ominous ambiance of Gotham City. It seemed always to be night, that the sun never shone, and that every street corner was inhabited by some grotesque and soulless creature bent on mischief. The Ghost of St. Giles, with his rumored murders-‘murders that are reminiscent of Jack the Ripper's by the by-‘wanders about in a Harlequin costume, face masked and carries a sword. Very Gotham and goth, don't you think? Add in a subplot about Temperance's younger sister, Silence, and her ruin at the hands of dock-thief and slum-king, Charming Mickey, and the whole story has the dark and gloomy flavor of an episode of Batman: the animated series. Which is praise, because I loved that show; I watched it every day after school.

As usual, you frame the story with a fairy tale, an epigraph beginning each chapter that tells part of that tale as your main story progresses. If I can put on my literary critic hat for a moment (it's a beanie with helicopter blade on top, in case you were wondering), I'm interested in how this framing device helps or hinders me from understanding the interactions between the main characters in their story. Are the heroes of the romance mirrored in the heroes of the fairy tale? Or does the framing fairy tale say something different about both the hero and the heroine? But those are question for another day.

Your characters are well-drawn, for even when you use stock ones, they never become caricatures. You can imagine-‘at least I can-‘that the secondary characters have lives outside the book. Pasts, as it were. The love scenes were hot and delicious. And there were a lot of them. This is going to sound like a weird complaint but I almost felt like there were too many sex scenes. Perhaps this because there was a slew of them at the end of the book and it made it seem that instead of talking, Caire and Temperance were instead shagging. You did deal with this somewhat, but I felt it was so close to the end that the problem the sex causes between them didn't have time to develop properly either as a problem or a solution. So while I believed in the attraction, even the love, I also had the odd sensation of it being both sudden and truncated.

-‘cue the off-topic rant-‘

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've been reading romances for too long. But I feel like sex has completely taken over character development. I mean, I like sex scenes, but if I wanted to read an erotica I would. What the hell happened to conversation? Tension? Building the longing? Where's the freakin' longing? This isn't just a singular problem limited to this book or this author, but one that seems to have invaded every corner of Romancelandia. Character development is hard, but often the differences and similarities between the lovers are revealed in their interactions with each other. While those interactions can be sex, I find that without enough conversation and dialogue to balance that out, I don't fully believe that they are in love. Does that make sense?

-‘end rant-‘

Anyhow, that was my one major complaint but it may just be a preference thing. I think some people would disagree with me and think that there was plenty of conversation to go around.

On the whole, the ambiance, the setting and the strangely Gothic vibe that ripples through this book was delightful and just unusual enough to stand out. I ripped right through it in a matter of hours and would re-read it, which is always a sure sign I enjoyed a book. Looking forward to the future installments of the Maiden Lane series. B+

Lazaraspaste

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This is a mass market paperback published by Grand Central, a division of Hachette.

Lazaraspaste came to the romance genre at the belated age of twenty-six. While she prefers historicals, she's really up for anything . . . much like her view of food! Some of her favorite authors include Jo Beverley, Anne Stuart, Lisa Kleypas and Joan Smith. Once a YA librarian, she is now working towards an advanced degree in literature with the mad idea of becoming a critic and teacher. Though she loves romance, fantasy has always been her first love. She hates never-ending series and believes the ending is the most important part.

51 Comments

  1. Lori
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 13:11:29

    Everyone’s a comedian :)

    I really, really enjoyed this book, and I didn’t necessarily notice an overabundance of sex at the end. Hmmm… Now maybe I’m going to go back and reread the last 4 or 5 chapters. Which wouldn’t be a hardship. I think this may be my favorite book of hers since The Raven Prince (which I absolutely adore to pieces!).

  2. May
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 13:20:31

    I really like Elizabeth Hoyt’s work, but this book didn’t satisfy. What I mean is, at the end I was more interested in what would be happening in future installments vs being happy/satisfied with the HEA. I have high hopes for this series, but the novel just didn’t stand alone for me. Her previous works have.

  3. Shaheen
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 13:22:32

    Lord Caire reminded me strongly of Malfoy’s Dad in the Harry Potter movies.

    About the sex – I tend to agree in general, but I didn’t find that it bothered me that much in this book. In some books, the sex scenes really are important for character development, which is when it’s all worth it. (Of course, I can’t think of any offhand, now that I put myself on the spot!) In most however, it’s just like punctuation – bridging the gap between one section and the next with some nice scenery, but no real content.

  4. joanne
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 14:11:31

    This book was such a disappointment for me.

    Why someone like Caire would seek out a respectable widow to take him into the slums was just an eye roller. Caire’s sexual ‘problems’ were too easily solved by true love. Please.

    I was fascinated by the side story of Silence and I hope there is more about her.
    I like Elizabeth Hoyt so I hope the series gets better. IMO.

  5. elizs
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 14:30:05

    I have to say – this is one of the best reviews I’ve read on this site, and I’ve been visiting here for a few years now. Great job!

    I usually love Hoyt’s books (“To Seduce a Sinner” is one of my absolute faves), but I’ve been waiting to get this one from the library… this review makes me think I can wait a little while longer.

  6. meoskop
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 14:31:46

    “Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've been reading romances for too long. But I feel like sex has completely taken over character development. I mean, I like sex scenes, but if I wanted to read an erotica I would.”

    THANK YOU.

    I have this book on my buy list, but I’ve hesitated to purchase it for the very reason you cite here. Hoyt hit my list of ‘sex over development’ authors and I’m not sure if I want to continue with her. I am so very, very, very tired of large portions of my romance being given over to sex. When I am in the mood for Mad Men I don’t want to watch Red Shoe Diaries. I want character development, suspense and surprise. Sex I can have on demand.

    That said, the fact that you enjoyed this book may push me to purchase it.

  7. lazaraspaste
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 15:11:03

    Thanks, everyone for the comments.

    @Shaheen–Yes! Totally. That’s what it was. Oh, Jason Isaacs, I heart you.

    @elizs–Thank you so much. That’s very kind of you to say.

    I understand that sex can be an important part of character development. And it may even be an important part of the character development in this book. I did, after all, give it at B+, which is a pretty high grade. BUT I have noticed a trend in many of the romances I have read in the past few years where in the last third of the romance, there are like 4 or 5 sex scenes right on top of each other. I’ve noticed this not only in this book, but in Kleypas’ and others (who I can’t think of off the top of my head). Authors who have been some of my favorites. In this trend, conversation only happens during sex. Ever plot occurence, every event of the story in the later third becomes either a precursor to sex or is the sex scene itself. The pacing is all sorts of off.

    Anyhow, like I said in the review. I liked this book, it just suffered from the same overabundance of late sex scene that nearly every romance I’ve read lately seems to suffer from.

  8. EGS
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 15:27:36

    I enjoyed this one but also thought there were a few threads in the story that were never explained or just kind of left to die: Caire’s aversion to touch was the big one. There really wasn’t ever much of a reason for it, not to mention it seemed to come and go throughout the story.

    And what’s with all of the insane names? Silence, Hero, Lazarus, Temperance, etc. What ever happened to Jane and Edward?

  9. meoskop
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 15:39:35

    EGS – You should see my family tree if you think those are insane names. Jane and Edward would stand out like anything with Mordecai, Bathsheba and the like.

    The aversion to touch was one of the things that interested me about this book in the first place. I don’t like touch unless I initiate it, am prepared for it, know the person – there are very strong personal preferences I have that I understand other people do not. There is no ‘reason’, my parents report I was this way from infancy.

    Unwelcome touch makes me feel violent. Your comforting neighborly hug is my physical assault. Lamaze class was a hell that ended with me crying after each required session. I’ve met other people who feel this way but few who understand it.

  10. Ridley
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 16:09:44

    A B+? Really? That’s awful generous of you.

    The book is riddled with anachronism, treats BDSM like a psychological disorder one overcomes, abuses reflexive pronouns like an all-staff email, wants me to take seriously a swordsman in a harlequin mask and a cape, peppers the book with shameless sequel bait and contains two of the most unlikeable characters I’ve read in a long while. And what was Caire a lord of, exactly? She never tells us his title.

    Why bother writing in an unusual time period if you’re going to go all wallpapery?

    This book was a D- if it was anything, and I’ve read and loved most of Hoyt’s books (To Desire a Devil was also atrocious.)

  11. Laura K Curtis
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 16:13:09

    Lazaraspaste –

    Thanks for the in-depth review. I haven’t read the book yet so I cannot comment on the accuracy or anything, but I can say this…

    THANK YOU FOR THE RANT! I totally agree and was just talking to my friend about this today. I do enjoy me some sex, but that’s not all I want out of a romance, or even MOST of what I want out of a romance. I’ve been feeling very alone in that lately, along with my feeling very alone in being the only one who’s not interested in M/M romance.

  12. Ridley
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 16:15:22

    Also, the hero had long white hair.

    I kept imagining Caire as Sephiroth and it distracted me all to hell.

  13. Jen X
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 16:26:57

    I really enjoyed this one. I think Hoyt created a wonderful world for her characters to inhabit. I agree that none of her books ever feel Georgian though, except for the fact that the men wear tricorns.

    What I loved most about this lovestory is the fact that, while Caire started out as a prototypical tortured hero, he didn’t stay that way. Once he found Temperance and saw an opportunity for love & happiness he wanted it. No games. How novel. I loved it. =)

  14. Jen X
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 16:45:32

    I just wanted to add that I think B+ is a fair grade and that while the love scenes are not ‘fade to black’ it is consistent with Hoyt’s style. In this book the first lovescene doesn’t even occur until pretty late in the story so personally, I did not find them insincere.

    When I close a book I grade it on whether or not I enjoyed it, did it keep me hooked, is it believable without being too ‘heavy’ or too ‘light’, did I feel enchanted. For me ‘Wicked Intentions’ was a yes, yes, yes.

  15. byclare2e
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 17:00:20

    I’m now interested in the book, but I LOVED the rant! Sometimes the sexual tension culminates so quickly, I don’t get to enjoy the build. As for the power of the relationship, longing is exactly the word, and it’s something I want in any romance I read.

  16. Julie James
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 17:06:28

    “it's a beanie with helicopter blade on top, in case you were wondering”

    Love it.

    Thanks for the great review–I don’t read many historicals, but you have me curious about this one. Maybe it’s the gothic feel? I’ve never read Elizabeth Hoyt but have wanted to check out her books for awhile. Maybe this is a good place to start.

  17. orannia
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 17:08:51

    Lazaraspaste – thank you for a brilliant review. I was glued to it! Wicked Intentions is currently on my TBR list, although after reading your review I think I might move it up :) Oh, and I love your description of the hero: He reminded me, with his long white hair and black walking stick, of an anime character.

    WRT your rant on character development? Yes, yes, yes. I need to see the developing relationship, the little moments, not just lust -> bed -> love -> the end. I know, I simplified it :) but people are complex, thus relationships are complex. I don’t want them dumbed down.

    @mesokop

    The aversion to touch was one of the things that interested me about this book in the first place. I don't like touch…

    This too was what drew me to the book. I don’t like touch either. At all. Not even initiated by me. So I’m really interested in seeing how this plays out.

  18. KristieJ
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 17:40:42

    What a hilarious review. I just finished this book today and I really enjoyed it. The amount of sex didn’t bother me at all since they both had issues with it – Caire because he couldn’t stand to be touched and Temperance because she was filled with guilt. So it made sense to me that they would ‘work on it’ between the two of them.
    I would have liked for her to have delved more into why touch bothered him so much – but who knows, maybe she had to cut some and that was part of it. The other thing I found a bit distracting was why the called all the children either John or Mary – made me think of Joe Frazier and how he named all his sons the same name. I got a chuckle out of the line where Silence in annoyance wonders the same thing. But these were very small points in consideration of how much I enjoyed this book. I give a 4.5 out of 5

  19. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 17:47:00

    Interesting – my next Richard and Rose book is titled – yep – “Maiden Lane.” It wasn’t really in St. Giles, it was part of the Covent Garden area, and was mainly filled with tradespeople and small shops.
    http://fwd4.me/aiP
    There was a charity school in the area in the 1830’s.
    I have this one somewhere on my TBR, but not sure when I’ll get to it. I’ve enjoyed her books very much in the past, so I have hopes for this one.
    Aversion to touch reminds me of Robin Schone’s “Gabriel’s Woman.” Gabriel can initiate touch, but he can’t bear anyone else touching him. Loved that book. The only sex scene that has ever made me cry.
    I have a Makepeace too, Penelope Makepiece, back in “Alluring Secrets.” How weird is that? Synergy, got to be.

  20. meoskop
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 18:09:49

    Ridley – how do you REALLY feel? (Tell me more about the BDSM problem, actually)

    Long white hair always makes me think of Elric. Not sexy.

  21. Ridley
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 18:36:21

    @meoskop:

    Well, it’s a bit of a spoiler, but sure.

    The first third of the book has people making a big to-do about Caire’s “unnatural desires.” Eventually we find out that he likes to tie women up for sex. There’s also a scene where the hero and heroine watch such an act through peepholes at a whorehouse and Temperance is totally turned on. However, when the two finally get together, Hoyt drops the bondage as Caire decides he doesn’t “need” it with her. The hero and heroine also discuss his reasons for liking it in the past and chalking it up to his loneliness and self-loathing. It really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s not like she was having them stick to the conventional wisdom of the times, as they’d turned their noses at bloodletting earlier in the book.

  22. lucy
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 18:42:07

    Funniest review I’ve read to date in Dear Author. I love white haired pretty boys-but its kinda of a weird choice outside of anime. Is the author a fan of anime and comic books?

    One of my favorite parts in romance is the sexual tension. The sex act itself is a bit meh, and I sometimes actually skip it. I have noticed that romance books have become obsessed with sex. Some characters don’t seem think about anything else except sex.

  23. Shelia Goss
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 19:11:22

    I have this book but haven’t had a chance to read it. Thanks for the review so I will move it up on my TBR list.

  24. Jane O
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 20:02:19

    Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've been reading romances for too long. But I feel like sex has completely taken over character development. I mean, I like sex scenes, but if I wanted to read an erotica I would. What the hell happened to conversation? Tension? Building the longing? Where's the freakin' longing? This isn't just a singular problem limited to this book or this author, but one that seems to have invaded every corner of Romancelandia. Character development is hard, but often the differences and similarities between the lovers are revealed in their interactions with each other. While those interactions can be sex, I find that without enough conversation and dialogue to balance that out, I don't fully believe that they are in love. Does that make sense?

    YES!

  25. Shelia Goss
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 20:10:11

    @Jane O:
    Jane O, I feel you. Characters shouldn’t be having sex just for the sake of having it. I also like well rounded characters. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this book so I’m eager to read it so I can talk about it with those that have read it.

  26. Susan/DC
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 21:12:29

    I liked the sex scenes in WI because I thought they expressed the two characters and their relationship. Nonetheless ITA about the general overuse of sex in recent romances. I miss Elisabeth Fairchild for that exact reason — she wrote trad Regencies for the old (and still lamented) Signet line and was Queen of Longing. There are times that longing and build-up of sexual tension are more powerful to the reader than descriptions of the act itself.

  27. Angela
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 21:27:26

    Great review! I loved reading it.

    Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've been reading romances for too long. But I feel like sex has completely taken over character development. I mean, I like sex scenes, but if I wanted to read an erotica I would. What the hell happened to conversation? Tension? Building the longing? Where's the freakin' longing? This isn't just a singular problem limited to this book or this author, but one that seems to have invaded every corner of Romancelandia. Character development is hard, but often the differences and similarities between the lovers are revealed in their interactions with each other. While those interactions can be sex, I find that without enough conversation and dialogue to balance that out, I don't fully believe that they are in love. Does that make sense?

    YES! Often I feel the same way when reading romances anymore. I’ve always enjoyed a good sex scene – but more for how it pushed the characters development forward. It seems like more sex scenes these days are there just to be there. They get old.

    @meoskop:

    I don't like touch unless I initiate it, am prepared for it, know the person – there are very strong personal preferences I have that I understand other people do not. There is no ‘reason', my parents report I was this way from infancy.

    Unwelcome touch makes me feel violent. Your comforting neighborly hug is my physical assault.

    It took me quite a long time in my life to find other people like this. With very close friends and family, when I know to expect it, I don’t have a problem with touch. And with those I’m closest with I touch frequently to show care and love. But most people I want to keep a 2 foot space between me and them. Crowded areas can be hell for me if I don’t prepare myself for them beforehand.

    @Ridley:

    The hero and heroine also discuss his reasons for liking it in the past and chalking it up to his loneliness and self-loathing. It really rubbed me the wrong way.

    This totally irks me. Getting things to do with BDSM wrong is probably one of my biggest pet peeves in a story.

  28. Scorpio M.
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 22:31:59

    I liked this one. I’ve read every Hoyt historical and my faves are The Leopard Prince, To Seduce A Sinner and now Wicked Intentions.

    I am not an expert on BDSM literature but I wouldn’t classify that that was what Hoyt was trying to do. Yes, the hero used ties and a hood with his mistress but there was no SM part, unless I missed it but I don’t think so.

    With this h/H I definitely felt that they connected on an emotional level before things even got physical.

  29. meoskop
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 23:12:09

    @Ridley – thanks, I’m not a BDSM fan and if that’s an element I’d rather be spoiled than surprised.

  30. Sandra
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 23:35:12

    @Scorpio M.:
    Yes, the hero used ties and a hood with his mistress but there was no SM part, unless I missed it but I don't think so.

    I didn’t see it as BDSM either. I saw it more as part of Caire’s dislike (phobia?) of being touched. If his partner’s restrained, she can’t touch him. And the hood was not sight deprivation, so much as to keep him from being looked at. As their relationship grew, he became much more comfortable with and accepting of Temperance’s touch.

  31. Laura Vivanco
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 06:58:25

    I feel like sex has completely taken over character development. […] What the hell happened to conversation? […] Character development is hard, but often the differences and similarities between the lovers are revealed in their interactions with each other. While those interactions can be sex, I find that without enough conversation and dialogue to balance that out, I don't fully believe that they are in love. Does that make sense?

    I recently came across a post by Malle Vallik at Carina Press which might explain the thinking behind an increase in sex scenes. Obviously she isn’t speaking for all editors, authors and readers, but she does seem to assume that readers of her post will agree with her, which suggests that these views aren’t unique to her:

    Super hot steamy novels appeal to readers because when they are well-written, they are incredibly honest and real about relationships. After all, what is more honest than sex? Making love is when we truly reveals who we are. Sure there's a great entertainment factor in increasing the sexual tension, at writing about couples in outrageous even scandalous situations, but great sex scenes also reveal how a couple (or however many!) fall in love. If it's a romance the love scenes change over the course of the book, to reflect the changes in the growing relationship. The sex needs to reflect the gamut of emotions the couple experiences.

    If those are the kinds of assumptions behind the increase in sex scenes, then I think they’re problematic.

    My response to the question “what is more honest than sex?” would be that, in general, an honest conversation is likely to be far, far more informative: people don’t magically acquire the ability to mind-read during sex. In addition, some sexual encounters are not particularly “honest”: in real life it’s not exactly unknown for one or more of the participants to pretend to feel more enthusiasm/interest/pleasure than they are actually experiencing.

    It may be true that sex scenes, “when they are well-written, […] are incredibly honest and real about relationships” but sex scenes in romances are not always very “real” (the bizarre internal hymens being an obvious example of a lack of realism).

    It may also be true that “great sex scenes also reveal how a couple (or however many!) fall in love,” but it’s also entirely possible to fall in love without having sex with the person with whom one’s falling in love.

    Finally, the statement that “Making love is when we truly reveals who we are” seems to imply that people only truly reveal themselves to their lovers, not to anyone with whom they have a non-sexual relationship, e.g. best friends, parents, children, siblings. It also suggests that things which can’t be (or generally aren’t) revealed during sex are of lesser importance to one’s identity. For lots of people their job, studies, non-sexual hobbies, political and religious beliefs etc are of immense value to them and extremely important to their identity, but those things may not play a direct role in their sex life.

  32. Elyse Mady
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 07:15:49

    Loved the asides and the visual image of the beanie hat.

    I think it’s a fine line between longing and frustration for the reader and TLS and TMS (too little/too much sex) in a lot of historical romances. I think if the characters are well developed, the sex will develop organically and be properly interspersed with longing/build-up (9 Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake did a good job of this IMHO), other wise it just becomes a tab a into slot b sort of thing :) that quickly looses its lustre.

  33. Merrian
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 08:21:28

    The white hair makes me think of powdered hair and 1737 of the Duke of Avon in ‘These Old Shades’ by G. Heyer. I am assuming that a lot of people would have had white hair on a daily basis and didn’t the men often shave their natural hair, prefering the powdered wig? I am thinking of all those paintings of men wearing banyans in rooms with their souvenirs of the grand tour without their wigs but often wearing little caps or turban things on their cold, bald heads. In reading the discussion about the sex in this story I wonder if the HEA in the relationship is being presented through the sex that they are able to share together and if this is a trend especially in the light of the editor’s comments above? It is an interesting tension between the demands that authors ‘show’ us the story (is the sex doing this?)yet in a sense we are saying we need the words from inside the POV/heads of the protagonists so that we know it is real.

    This is a great review. I have found myself ambivalent about E. Hoyt’s books over the past while but I love the Georgian period so I think this will hit the TBR pile.

  34. Kerry Allen
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 09:24:47

    Copy/paste the sex rant, and add that pretty much any mention of sex in the first chapter of a romance has become grounds for me tossing a book. If I’ve just been introduced to a character, I don’t want to know anything about his or her hot/throbbing/weeping genitals. It’s not shorthand for “ooh, this book will be sexytime.” It’s shorthand for “rah, another book in which all the characters’ motivations originate below the waist.”

  35. Muriel Lede
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 09:36:37

    Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've been reading romances for too long. But I feel like sex has completely taken over character development. I mean, I like sex scenes, but if I wanted to read an erotica I would. What the hell happened to conversation? Tension? Building the longing? Where's the freakin' longing?

    Readers don’t want to long for their Big Mac. They just want it. Fast food would never have taken off otherwise.

  36. Jill Sorenson
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 11:32:45

    Great review, interesting comments. I’ve been a longtime Hoyt fan but none of her later works have grabbed me like The Raven Prince. I quite liked To Beguile a Beast.

    The spoiler comment reminds me of a Kleypas book in which the hero (Nick Gentry?) has been kept prisoner. He likes to tie up women because of a fear of being hurt/touched. For some reason that book really disappointed me but I’d love to give this one a try. The aversion to touch theme is a favorite of mine.

  37. lazaraspaste
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 12:10:06

    Wow! So many amazing and interesting comments. I’m glad this generated so much discussion. Thanks for all the compliments. I’m going to try to respond to some of the main points.

    @Ridley–Ha! Sephiroth. Oh man, I was probably thinking of him, too. Final Fantasy VII was not as poplar with me as VIII.

    @Merrian–I think his hair was actually white, not just powdered. I don’t know how prevalent powder was in 1737. Too early? Anyone?

    On BDSM aspect. I guess my question is, when is tying someone up not BDSM? That was not a snotty question. IMO, BDSM is more than the use of ropes, hoods or whips. I think one can use those tools and still not be engaging in BDSM, if that makes sense. I did not get the impression that this book was about “curing” Caire of BDSM desires but rather about a character whose sexuality was at odds with his abhorrence of touch. Did that work? That’s up to y’all.

    @Laura Vivanco–Your response to that quote you posted is exactly my response. Those assumptions about sex scenes are problematic for me, too.

    It also suggests that things which can't be (or generally aren't) revealed during sex are of lesser importance to one's identity. For lots of people their job, studies, non-sexual hobbies, political and religious beliefs etc are of immense value to them and extremely important to their identity, but those things may not play a direct role in their sex life.

    Yes. And love is more than just sex. I’d go into a long quote from the poet Octavio Paz but unfortunately I’m not around my book. In any case, I think just on a storytelling level equating sex as an honest act that reveals identity does a disservice to the complexity of the characters. But you’ve really said everything I wanted to say in response to those assumptions much more eloquently.

  38. Angela
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 12:19:02

    On BDSM aspect. I guess my question is, when is tying someone up not BDSM? That was not a snotty question. IMO, BDSM is more than the use of ropes, hoods or whips.

    I totally agree with this, and apologize if my comments regarding it – when I haven’t read the book – made this seem like something it wasn’t.

  39. Ridley
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 13:36:02

    Well, the truth of the matter is that Caire was into bondage until he was cured by Twue Love.

    Books are like paintings. Everything is in there deliberately. Nothing ran into the frame unexpectedly. Hoyt chose to make a character whose preference for bondage was a result of poor mental health then proceeded to cure him of it. That’s not okay for me.

    And one need not be into SM to be “legitimately” into the other letters of BDSM.

    I disliked the book for a number of reasons. Maybe if I liked the rest of the book I’d be making excuses for Hoyt on the matter as well. Who knows.

  40. S.Lynn
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 15:58:46

    UM….Since when did tying someone to a bed w/ rope & making them wear a hood become hard core BDSM? Did I miss the memo? :-/

  41. Ridley
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 16:09:03

    @S.Lynn:

    I don’t know. You’re the first instance of the words “hard core” in the thread. You tell me.

  42. S.Lynn
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 19:20:29

    @Ridley

    You initially introduced the subject of ‘BDSM” in the book, which IMO, there was none to be found. Ergo my comment. ;-)

  43. Pamelia
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 20:25:16

    I also loved this book. I think the characters were nicely drawn and I really liked the graphic novel-esque elements. My only problem with it was how quickly Caire was cured of his aversion to touch. I didn’t think that particular development felt at all like it was earned. I too would’ve liked more about it; both in its origins and in its resolution. A far as the bondage elements go I’m tempted to google some info and see just what the Georgian attitudes towards kink were. Just wondering.

  44. Ridley
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 20:36:34

    @S.Lynn:

    Does the B in BDSM not stand for “bondage?” Bondage is defined as “sexual practice that involves physically restraining (by cords or handcuffs) one of the partners,” which Caire clearly did, both in recollection and with Temperance.

    You introduced the concept of hardcore, not me. I never claimed this was some sort of BDSM erotica, only that Caire engaged in bondage sex all but exclusively before he meets the heroine who cures him swiftly and surely.

    So please, enlighten me. When did it become “hard core BDSM?”

  45. Scorpio M.
    Aug 25, 2010 @ 22:24:51

    @Pamelia

    “graphic novel-esque elements”…what a great description. I loved that, too. Caire’s hair, his ‘wings of a bird’ black cape, the Harlequin. All this painted a very entertaining & vivid world.

  46. Debbie
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 18:21:41

    I really disliked this one: bad characters, no explanation of Caire’s need to not be touched (which is why I came here to find out what the heck that was!) and overall, I did not feel happy at the end of the story.

    I read Romance’s for the relationship/chemistry between the characters and the happy endings (no pun intended.)

    Silence’s story stood out more than the main characters and completely depressed me. So when I read the next story was going to be about Lady Hero, I just had to gag a little. No more Maiden Lane for me.

  47. Peaches
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 02:39:07

    This was a definite miss for me. I’ve loved some of Hoyts books in the past, but also hated the rest, so I knew this would be a coin toss. The last series I loved two out of four books, so I’ll probably read the next book in this one hoping the law of averages will win.

    I was surprised you didn’t cover the completely anti-happy ending of Silence in this book, as it’s so atypical. I don’t really feel at all assured about about her just because somebody gave her a baby.

  48. Silvia
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 20:05:59

    I’m so very glad you pointed out the unique setting and ambiance in this novel, which drew me to order it. What a breath of fresh air! I’m so often dissatisfied with romance novels, which is why I haunt this blog for interesting recs. But I loved the lush, Gothic tone to this one and how the plot and character backgrounds were developed bit by bit (instead of lots of the immediate massive “info dumps” I find so typical). It was great to see the darker side of 1700’s England depicted — I was just watching a BBC mini-series about the creation of the Bow Street Runners and everything felt very familiar.

    Graphic-noveleque is a good description for it… And I suppose that’s a style I vastly prefer. I wish I could locate more Romance works with a similar sensibility.

  49. Mary
    Nov 17, 2010 @ 10:14:43

    I really disliked this book. In fact, towards the end it was “Oh, not another sex scene”, mostly because I totally didn’t buy the characters.

    Some things people already said – I never really understood Caire’s aversion to touch, and it was cured way too easily. But, more importantly, I didn’t buy the premise. Why did he like Temperance and got involved in the first place? I never saw the reason for his offer, and initially there wasn’t even the “Oh, she is beautiful, I am madly in lust with her and want to have her at any cost” feeling that is often used to sell such premises.

    Then why does Temperance keep running to Caire’s home (every time ending up in sex)? Throughout most of the novel he is presented as being averse to touch, expressing no sympathy for others, saying that he does not and cannot love anyone. In fact, Temperance is frustrated at some point, “why can’t he give me what I need?” Plus she feels guilty over sex. And yet every time something goes wrong, she runs to Caire’s house. Why, exactly?

    Plus the whole brothel visit was, IMHO, straight out of erotica/porn and not romance. I mean, she is in a bad brothel in the worst part of the town. She gets to peep into several rooms in sequence. In every room she apparently sees prostitutes enjoying the process so much that she gets very excited herself. Even taking into consideration that this is complete fantasyland, I just found it too much to take.

    There are ways to handle these things well. For example, Jaqueline Carey Kushiel’s series makes both the characters and the BDSM aspects work very well indeed. But the Hoyt felt so awful that she is pretty much dropping off my list of authors to watch, given also that her previous book wasn’t too great in terms of character development. It really feels like her last couple of books are erotica and not romance to me.

  50. REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 09:23:07

    […] clichés at the very least tolerable in their other contexts. For instance, in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Wicked Intentions the hero’s desire for kinky sex is “cured” by his relationship with the heroine. However, the […]

  51. dphilblack
    Nov 15, 2012 @ 04:33:38

    I’ve just read this book and suffering from a “reading” hangover as I finished it at 2am in the morning. Not great if you have 6:30 morning starts! :)
    I really enjoyed and will look to read some more of Elizabeth Hoyts books… the Raven Prince seems to be getting good reviews.
    One thing, is it just me or does 50 Shades look to have copied the “no touching” scenario to the point where some scenes are nearly identical (the touching of the chest… etc). I read 50 Shades first and had a sense of deja vu when reading Wicked Intentions so I looked at both published dates. Wicked Intentions was first.
    Do you think it was a coincidence, because there is nothing worse than themes copied into other books, IMHO…

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