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REVIEW: To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Dear Mrs. Hoyt,

book review Your books work for me. What else can I say? I believe in these characters. I believe in the circumstances you place them in. I believe the ways you make them act. I want them to find happiness and when they do, I’m thrilled. When Jane sent out a DA email asking for our recommendations for May, I realized I, once again, needed to get off my ass and read. I just now finished the book and am happy as a clam at high tide.

Sir Alistair Munroe thinks his life is the way he wants it. Living alone, except for a surly, lazy manservant, in a dirty castle in a remote part of Scotland while he works on his latest book on the flora and fauna of the British Isles. Therefore, when a woman with two children presents herself at his door as his new housekeeper, he knows she’s lying. He doesn’t want her or her children in his life, thank you very much, now go away.

Helen Halifax can’t afford to let this beastly man turn her way. On the run from her former protector the Duke of Lister, she must find a place to hide herself and her children. Lister doesn’t love her, probably never has, but what he thinks is his stays his. He manipulated Helen once by taking away their infant daughter and she’s under no illusions that he’d do it again and this time permanently.

So, she gathers her courage, straightens her spine and goes about thwarting Alistair’s intentions to see them gone. Amazed to find himself yielding to Helen’s machinations, Alistair gives her one week to prove to him that he’s better off with these changes in his life. But when Helen and her children, Abigail and Jamie, are finished with him, he might discover a future he never dared dream of.

I’ve been anticipating Alistair’s story since we met him in the previous book of the series, “To Seduce a Sinner.” He’s one of the surviving men of the ambush at Spinner’s Falls and the one most physically scarred by the event. A naturalist, Alistair was attached to the 28th Foot when they were attacked by the French and their Huron allies. And along with a few other men, he was taken back to their camp and tortured for days before rescue arrived.

But like Jasper Renshaw, he’s learned that the pain he suffered then was only the beginning. His face, now hideously scarred, and his hand, missing two fingers, will always set him apart from most men. For the rest of his life, he must endure the stares, screams and shrinking back of his fellow man. I found it entirely understandable that he wants little to do with people and prefers to avoid inflicting his looks on others.

Alistair immediately thinks that Helen is probably the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. But like he, Helen has learned that her face won’t bring her happiness. Impulsive by nature, she fell for a man who, though she knew he would never marry her, she thought at least loved her. It took her years to discover she’d thrown away her family and the respect of the world to be nothing more than a plaything controlled by a man only because he can.

She’s determined to get away from that because she doesn’t want her children to be at risk of being taken from her and she’s decided that she’s worth more than this half life. Helen and Alistair both accept their past and how it will affect their futures. Neither thinks that marriage is an option and both fear being rejected for what they now are. As such, I found the conflict to be a product of the backgrounds you’ve given them and not some flimsy excuse to avoid finishing the story too quickly.

Helen’s love of her children jumps off the page. For them, she risks ostracism in the parks of London, flees a comfortable, though precarious, life under the Duke’s protection and is willing to risk everything to start a new life. For them she will fight and strive and endure.

I found myself identifying a bit with Abigail for I was also a quiet child who thought a lot and sometimes preferred to be alone to think. And any adult can probably recall chance events which they at the time thought to be the result of their actions or wishes. I laughed when Alistair’s older sister commiserated with Abigail about the need to deal with younger brothers.

Alistair’s love for Abigail and Jamie starts slowly. Well, it would after one’s face has caused them to scream and shrink back. The breakthroughs to tolerance, affection and then willingness to fight for them as hard as does their mother are incremental and totally believable. What I liked is that the change is not without it’s missteps. For each time that Alistair gets it right – teaching Abigail trout fishing, starting both children on the road to being budding naturalists – he sometimes screws it up – as with the satchel peed on by a puppy.

And it is because of this love Alistair feels for them, even though he might not realize he does at the time, that allows me to excuse what he says to Helen once he discovers her secret. Alistair calls her some harsh things to her face that, while technically true, are barely a step up from slapping her. When I read this part I thought, “there are going to be a lot of readers who get pissed off at him at this point.” But I could see that he is overwhelmed at Helen’s past that has suddenly been thrust upon him and that he worries about how the children’s bastard status will affect them for life.

Once the danger from the villain is removed, and I think Alistair goes about spiking those guns rather cleverly, I will admit to being happy that all is not magically turned to rainbows and fluffy bunnies in the lives of Helen or the children. She was a mistress and the children are bastards and nothing will change that. Their close friends and some family may accept them but to most of polite society, they will probably forever be beyond the pale. Books in which such ostracized characters find widespread social acceptance, while giving readers warm fuzzies, always make me cringe a bit since I can never quite get over my doubts about them.

I do have one thing that bothered me about the story. Most of it takes place in Scotland and when Alistair and Helen traveled down to London, they presented themselves as “Mr. and Mrs. Munroe” and had obviously consummated their relationship. So…what about Scottish marriage laws? Having done what they did, doesn’t that mean that they are already married way before Alistair proposes to Helen in that lovely scene?

As always, I found the “fairy tale” told over the course of the book to be almost as entertaining as the actual story. And after reading the preview of the next book the only thing I can say is, “Holy Shit!” and “Can I wait until November?” But then I guess I don’t have much of a choice before finally discovering the identity of the traitor and what really happened six years ago in the wilds of the Colonies. A-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from an independent bookstore or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

55 Comments

  1. she reads
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 15:35:26

    yeah, I love. love. loved this last night when I read it too. It just worked for me on all the levels you said. (sigh of content happiness)

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  2. Darlynne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 15:47:22

    I read the previous book in the series, thanks to the review here, and really–and unexpectedly–enjoyed it. Now there’s more. Thanks!

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  3. Danielle
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 15:47:27

    Oh I can’t wait to buy this book tomorrow.

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  4. she reads
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 15:49:51

    Also meant to add- I got mine at Target 25% off. Can I just say THANK YOU TARGET for being my only reliable bookseller and discounted to boot? So nice on my budget!

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  5. Keishon
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 15:52:47

    When I was reading this, I stumbled over the children’s POV which is a big turn off for me. Love the kids, I do but, not in fiction. How much of it made up the story? Tx. I had to ask myself why was it even necessary?

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  6. she reads
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 16:01:32

    Keishon it was just a little from the young girl- and it’s short and key. I don’t usually like it either but I loved it here.

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  7. Rene
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 16:12:18

    Oh, I can’t wait to read this book. I hope my Target has it because I’ve been to Barnes and Noble way too often over the last week. I can justify a trip to Target. I’m out of coffee filters.

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  8. Keishon
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 16:16:16

    Keishon it was just a little from the young girl- and it's short and key. I don't usually like it either but I loved it here

    .

    Appreiciate that, thanks. I will pick it back up tonight.

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  9. jessica
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:06:26

    I liked it too. And these were people with ACTUAL flaws. I guy who’s face is totally cut up with an eye gouged out plus missing fingers? That’s a real injury (unlike your typical scar through their eyebrow that makes them look more striking or a small limp that they can still dance with). And a mistress?

    The kid’s POV is fairly brief.

    I REALLY wasn’t supposed to be reading any romance novels. I’m in the middle of my comprehensive preliminary exams for my PhD and have tried not to start any good books because I’m obsessive and need to study. But it was worth it :)

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  10. Dana
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:20:28

    I loved this book soooo much. I bought it yesterday and spent the whole day reading it. I’m usually not fond of kids in romance novels, but Elizabeth Hoyt made me fall in love with Abigail and James, I loved the sibling relationship and the kids came off as kids, neither too precocious or too stupid. Also really loved the relationship between the kids and Alistair. I thought it was charming and believable.

    And the romance was wonderful. I loved watching the relationship between Alistair and Helen grow. And wow, the sex scenes were hot. :p

    I can’t believe we have to wait until Nov for the next book. I had the same reaction to the teaser as Jayne did.

    I first read Hoyt because of a review from DA, so thank you to DA! I’ve found some great authors through this blog.

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  11. Susan/DC
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:24:59

    And can I be totally shallow and say I think the cover is lovely? I despised the cover on the first in this series but liked this one (and the one on the Suzanne Enoch also reviewed today) a lot — these are clinch covers that worked for me.

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  12. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:39:38

    I read the previous book in the series, thanks to the review here, and really-and unexpectedly-enjoyed it. Now there's more. Thanks!

    Great! I’m glad the review headed you in the direction of a book you enjoyed. I will, however, be interested to read more reactions about this one. So many people either didn’t like the first book or second book in the series and were/are reluctant to keep going with it.

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  13. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:42:47

    Keishon, I’ll be honest and say that I think the POV from Abigail are more than a little bit. But, like she reads, I enjoyed those scenes and thought them necessary for the relationship between the children and Alistair. And this plays a major role at the end of the book when he must make a difficult decision about whether to save them or try and learn more about the traitor. When he says he’s satisfied with the choice he made, I can believe it based on how much these children have come to mean to him.

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  14. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:45:07

    And can I be totally shallow and say I think the cover is lovely? I despised the cover on the first in this series but liked this one (and the one on the Suzanne Enoch also reviewed today) a lot -’ these are clinch covers that worked for me.

    Yeah I like it but…I notice that none of his injuries are shown. Certainly not the damaged right hand. I guess the cover artist and publisher wouldn’t want his scars to scare people away from the story but…still, maybe they could have at least hinted at them a bit more.

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  15. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:47:58

    I liked it too. And these were people with ACTUAL flaws. I guy who's face is totally cut up with an eye gouged out plus missing fingers? That's a real injury (unlike your typical scar through their eyebrow that makes them look more striking or a small limp that they can still dance with). And a mistress?

    Yes! Actual flaws and a personal history that will banish Helen from most of polite society. And I love the part where she thinks to herself that this time she’s fallen for a man knowing his flaws and his secrets and not making him out to be some kind of girlish hero as she initially did with the Duke. They’ve both seen the best and worst of each other and are still in love.

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  16. Liz_Peaches
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:55:15

    I got this book last night and stayed up all night to read it. Hoyt is my favorite romance author. I know she’s new to the field, but so am I, and The Raven Prince was the first romance novel I ever truly enjoyed resulting in me giving the genre the fair chance it deserved.

    I loved this latest book the characters were sweet, funny, and unapologetic–I also appreciated that the children were so well written, as the “precocious child factor” can be pretty annoying when not done right.

    Totally worth the loss of sleep!

    My only complaint was that Alistar still needed that final beating over the head from his sister to get a move on in the last couple chapters. I would have thought he’d be questioning his “she’ll leave me eventually” certainty a lot more after all they went through. It should have been far more clear to him than it was that she left the castle because she didn’t want to be a mistress, not because her leaving in general was inevitable. He should have realized the power he had in this circumstance and not needed Sofia to dress him down about it–as much as I enjoyed Sofia doing so.

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  17. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:55:51

    I loved this book soooo much. I bought it yesterday and spent the whole day reading it. I'm usually not fond of kids in romance novels, but Elizabeth Hoyt made me fall in love with Abigail and James, I loved the sibling relationship and the kids came off as kids, neither too precocious or too stupid. Also really loved the relationship between the kids and Alistair. I thought it was charming and believable.

    And for me, the children-in-romance-books hater, the fact that I enjoyed these children and their growing relationship with Alistair says something. I also like that though Helen might not totally understand her daughter’s need to be alone to think a little, she isn’t out to try and change Abigail.

    And the romance was wonderful. I loved watching the relationship between Alistair and Helen grow. And wow, the sex scenes were hot. :p

    Oh yeah. ::Fans self::

    I can't believe we have to wait until Nov for the next book. I had the same reaction to the teaser as Jayne did.

    OMG. All through this book I kept wondering who would be the next h/h. Especially since Helen and Alistair were such an obvious set up in the last one. As this book reached the end and still no hero and heroine were in view, I kept thinking, “okaaaay. Who’s it going to be?” Then I read the preview and WOW.

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  18. veedee
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:56:00

    Thanks for reviewing this book. Just read To Seduce a Sinner, the book that made Elizabeth Hoyt one of my few favorite historical romance authors. I’ve been anxiously waiting for To Beguile a Beast — my order was shipped out today and I can’t wait! I know it will be another keeper!

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  19. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 17:59:30

    I know she's new to the field, but so am I, and The Raven Prince was the first romance novel I ever truly enjoyed resulting in me giving the genre the fair chance it deserved.

    For me the author was Maggie Osborne and I still remember being astounded that this genre I thought I wouldn’t like produced such a great book. And then I realized that the book I read wasn’t even her best one which meant that I had others of hers to look forward to. I love finding a new great author!

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  20. jessica
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 18:17:56

    Sadly, I was introduced to romance (at ten) by one of the many Zebra historicals where the man rapes the woman, she falls in love with him, and they have sex on a horse (is that even possible? And wouldn’t it chafe badly?). I moved on to Catherine Coulter (more of the same). It wasn’t for quite a while that I stumbled into really GOOD romance novels.

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  21. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 18:57:11

    My only complaint was that Alistar still needed that final beating over the head from his sister to get a move on in the last couple chapters. I would have thought he'd be questioning his “she'll leave me eventually” certainty a lot more after all they went through. It should have been far more clear to him than it was that she left the castle because she didn't want to be a mistress, not because her leaving in general was inevitable. He should have realized the power he had in this circumstance and not needed Sofia to dress him down about it-as much as I enjoyed Sofia doing so.

    I do wish the light had come on a little sooner about this too. But what’s the deal with Sophia and her companion? Did anyone else get the same vibes I did?

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  22. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 18:58:33

    I moved on to Catherine Coulter (more of the same). It wasn't for quite a while that I stumbled into really GOOD romance novels.

    Oh God! She put me off romance books for about 2-3 years. To this day, I’ve never finished one of her books. Not that I tried too many more after that first one…

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  23. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 19:02:15

    Oh, Lawdie. I can’t believe I forgot to mention Lady Gray the Scottish Deerhound. As the owner of another sighthound breed, I was thrilled about her for the time she was in the story.

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  24. Keishon
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 19:04:06

    Thanks Jayne and now I feel really bad now about picking on Abigail’s POV. Bad Keishon. But hey, I love children and can quite honestly chalk this up to my mood. I am giving it another go since my reading twin gave this book an A and thanks everybody for sharing their thoughts on this book, too. Hoyt seems to be well liked in the romance community so she’s doing something right.

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  25. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 19:11:59

    LOL, no worries. The children aren’t just there for “aww, cute!” moments. Which is what normally drives me batty. And no baby talk, either.

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  26. Liz_Peaches
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 20:08:34

    But what's the deal with Sophia and her companion? Did anyone else get the same vibes I did?

    I kept expecting some explanation for her to show up eventually, “She’s a lady’s companion” “She’s Sofia’s oldest friend from school”…but none appeared–quite a point, considering how close they seem and their fantastic rapport. So yes, now that you mention it I’m totally picking up a vibe. I would definitely read a novel starring these two :)

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  27. Jayne
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 20:19:24

    Me too. But, sigh, will we ever see one like this from a major publisher? Me has my doubts.

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  28. stephanie feagan
    Apr 29, 2009 @ 21:05:01

    Great review, Jayne. I concur wholeheartedly. Also am pissed off I have to wait for November for the last book.

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  29. Maili
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 04:40:03

    I do have one thing that bothered me about the story. Most of it takes place in Scotland and when Alistair and Helen traveled down to London, they presented themselves as “Mr. and Mrs. Munroe” and had obviously consummated their relationship. So…what about Scottish marriage laws? Having done what they did, doesn't that mean that they are already married way before Alistair proposes to Helen in that lovely scene?

    What do you mean? Am I right to guess you were referring to ‘marriage by cohabitation’?

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  30. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 04:56:33

    Yes, sorry, that’s what I mean. I thought – and jump in to correct me here, please – that if a couple acted as if they were married, presented themselves as married and – perhaps – had consummated their relationship, then they were married.

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  31. Marg
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 05:30:18

    I am anxiously waiting for this book to drop into my mailbox! I’ve broken my current book buying embargo just because it is Elizabeth Hoyt!

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  32. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 05:35:28

    Hoyt is an auto everything author for me – auto-buy, auto-read. Says the squeeing fangirl.

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  33. Maili
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 05:35:41

    Yes and no. Living together more than a certain number of days only means it’s a legal recognition of them as a couple, rather than as a marriage of a couple. Both were legit, though!

    Informal background info: marriage wasn’t seen as important as it was in the Central Scotland and England. At the same time, women in the highlands had more legal rights (and weight) than Scottish English and English women had. Marriage by cohabitation was a legal recognition of that. In other words, it was designed to protect women’s rights so that men won’t abandon them (and children, fostered or not) so easily. :D

    Of course, whether it was enforced varied from one district to another. Some districts formally recognised this form of marriage as a legit marriage that warranted court time to grant a divorce if needed, and some recognised it as an informal form of marriage that didn’t.

    This common practice, along with other common Highland traditions, was quietly condemned and stamped out when the Scottish Victoriana hit that part of the country.

    One could argue that Sir Alistair and Helen preferred the Scottish English style to the highland style, but since it’s a Georgian-era romance, I can’t blame you for wondering. And rightfully so.

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  34. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 05:43:05

    Ah-ha. That helps clear things up for me. It does take place after the Hardwicke Law (thank you Jo Beverley) so I knew their trip through England wouldn’t have made them married in the eyes of the law but wasn’t sure about the time while they were still in Scotland.

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  35. Keri M
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 08:46:56

    Thanks Jayne, for the great review! I might just have to give this historical a try. I don’t read too many and I haven’t read any Hoyt at all so I shall remedy that post haste! :-)

    PS as a side note, speaking of children, I read Kristan Higgin’s Too Good To Be True last night and something that I found totally creepy and kept pulling me out of the story was her constant reference to Andrew’s baby neck…or about it’s babyish smell..just ewww! I was so turned off by that, it was hard to stay engaged. But other than that one thing the book was fabulous and a DIK for me.

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  36. Anthea Lawson
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 11:52:00

    Picked up my copy today. This plus Lord Ian = happy weekend. (Hm, is there a menage in there? A quintage? What will my husband say… oh wait, he’ll say read ON!)

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  37. Erum
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 14:02:14

    Read the book last night – stayed up late to read it. It was fantastic. I completely agree with the review here.

    I think that, for me, the parts with Abigial actually made the book better. It helped give a sense of perspective as to what a huge step Helen had taken by leaving London. The children and Helen were used to a life of luxury, but also one of lonliness. And I thought that portions with Abigal helped show us that, rather than have Helen tell us that in boring monologues. I also found Abigal to be a very likable character and I thought that Jamie was also well sketched. He really was acting liking a five year old boy. The relationship between Abigial and Jamie was sweet, but not cloyingly so.

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  38. Tumperkin
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 14:08:05

    Nice review. I’ll be checking this out, though I have to say that for me, none of Hoyt’s later books have lived up to The Raven Prince, which I loved.

    As for marriage by cohabitation and repute, this was abolished in Scotland in….. 2006! Family law is not my area, but I recall reading cases about it when I was student that were at that time relatively recent. They tended to be succession cases where the spouse was claiming relict’s rights. And yes, as Maili says, Scots law was in the 18th/ 19th centuries much better for married women in terms of divorce rights. I’m not sure about earlier than that and the distinction she mentions between Highlander and Lowlanders though.

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  39. Hydecat
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 15:54:35

    Wow, I think I might have to pick this one up. I love books about women getting up the courage to leave a bad situation and find another one. When I was reading the review, it made me think of Ann Bronte’s book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, even though they’re not really the same (Helen leaves her abusive husband to get her child out of his sphere of influence and then makes a living as an artist… awesome!) I wasn’t sure about the concept of her books — sometimes obvious fairy-tale themes or other repeated plots (like the Sabrina plot or the Scarlet Pimpernel plot) take me out of the story — but it sounds like she doesn’t beat you over the head with it. I can handle that.

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  40. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 17:50:31

    As for marriage by cohabitation and repute, this was abolished in Scotland in….. 2006! Family law is not my area, but I recall reading cases about it when I was student that were at that time relatively recent. They tended to be succession cases where the spouse was claiming relict's rights. And yes, as Maili says, Scots law was in the 18th/ 19th centuries much better for married women in terms of divorce rights. I'm not sure about earlier than that and the distinction she mentions between Highlander and Lowlanders though.

    Really, 2006? Interesting. I think a handful of states here still accept common law marriages but the number is dwindling. When I checked the internet, I found that handfasting was legal until the 1940s in Scotland.

    How easy or hard was it to divorce in Scotland in the 18/19th C if a couple had been married in a religious ceremony?

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  41. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 17:53:02

    I wasn't sure about the concept of her books -’ sometimes obvious fairy-tale themes or other repeated plots (like the Sabrina plot or the Scarlet Pimpernel plot) take me out of the story -’ but it sounds like she doesn't beat you over the head with it. I can handle that.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t recognize the fairy tale used in this book as anything I’ve ever read before. Does Hoyt make all of these up as well as the main story? As the story and tale progressed, I could see the parallels Hoyt was drawing between them.

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  42. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 17:57:15

    The children and Helen were used to a life of luxury, but also one of lonliness.

    Good point. Helen often mentioned that they almost never spoke with their father and we see later that they have no familial feelings for him while Alistair has quickly become a major factor in their lives. Even living out in the country in a dirty castle, they’re still getting more “face time” and involvement, more real and meaningful interactions than they ever have with anyone beyond Helen before.

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  43. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 17:59:33

    I don't read too many and I haven't read any Hoyt at all so I shall remedy that post haste! :-)

    I think you can jump into the series at this point and do just fine with it. Then, if you like her writing and the story, you can backtrack to the others if you’re interested.

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  44. SonomaLass
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 18:06:06

    @ Hydecat: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is one of my favorite romances! I keep an old copy of it with my other frequent re-reads (on a shelf not too close to the fireplace in an old Scottish farmhouse). Gets me every time.

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  45. Dana
    Apr 30, 2009 @ 22:04:42

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't recognize the fairy tale used in this book as anything I've ever read before. Does Hoyt make all of these up as well as the main story? As the story and tale progressed, I could see the parallels Hoyt was drawing between them.

    On Elizabeth Hoyt’s website it says that:

    A. No. I write the fairy tales all myself. Like all fairy tales, however, they are inspired by other tales. Here's a list of inspirations:

    * For The Raven Prince: the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros and “The Princess Golden-Hair and the Great Black Raven,” a fairy tale by Howard Pyle in his book The Wonder Clock (now out of print.)
    * For The Leopard Prince: “The Water of Life” from The Wonder Clock by Howard Pyle.
    * For The Serpent Prince: very, very vaguely “The Goose-Girl” fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm.

    Link: http://www.elizabethhoyt.com/biography.php#faqs

    I also got a certain vibe from the older sister and friend. Very similar to some of the female relationships in Amanda Quick’s novels.

    And I loved Lady Grey and the puppy. I liked that they weren’t there just to be cute, but had relevance to the plot. When Alistair talked about how Lady Grey had greeted him after coming home, I totally got choked up. I’m such a wuss sometimes. :p

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  46. Maili
    May 01, 2009 @ 01:24:05

    @Tumperkin

    I'm not sure about earlier than that and the distinction she mentions between Highlander and Lowlanders though.

    I should have clarified that I was referring to the cultural difference, rather than legal difference, between Highlanders and Lowlanders. Thanks for calling me on it.

    I feel that highlanders had a very relaxed attitude towards social conventions and structure (yet very strict about certain customs) while lowlanders — especially the Edinburgh/Border lot were a bit more, erm, traditional?

    @Jayne

    When I checked the internet, I found that handfasting was legal until the 1940s in Scotland.

    Legal? Really? I always understood it as a myth with no legal basis. At best it was a folk custom, like the Maypole dance. Who knew? Where on the internet did you find that?

    How easy or hard was it to divorce in Scotland in the 18/19th C if a couple had been married in a religious ceremony?

    Do you really want to go there? :D Joking aside and informally speaking, obtaining divorce was relatively easy and cheaper (comparing with England’s process). It can be obtained without (usually) husband’s knowledge, too. It required a couple of witnesses and some canny thinking on the dissatisfied wife’s part, though. This is as much as I know. For statistics and that sort, I’m the worst person to rely on. :D

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  47. Jayne
    May 01, 2009 @ 06:13:44

    When Alistair talked about how Lady Grey had greeted him after coming home, I totally got choked up. I'm such a wuss sometimes. :p

    Well, I’m a wuss too, then.

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  48. Jayne
    May 01, 2009 @ 06:15:32

    I should have clarified that I was referring to the cultural difference, rather than legal difference, between Highlanders and Lowlanders. Thanks for calling me on it.

    Legal differences? How so? Or is this another can of worms I’m opening now?

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  49. Jayne
    May 01, 2009 @ 06:18:47

    Do you really want to go there? :D Joking aside and informally speaking, obtaining divorce was relatively easy and cheaper (comparing with England's process). It can be obtained without (usually) husband's knowledge, too. It required a couple of witnesses and some canny thinking on the dissatisfied wife's part, though. This is as much as I know. For statistics and that sort, I'm the worst person to rely on. :D

    Well, I guess not. I was just wondering if it was as difficult as the the law passed through the House of Lords that the English had to endure.

    Why the need for witnesses? Is this like the Muslim divorce where you must state the fact in front of X number of witnesses? And what canny thinking would she have to do? Reasons why she was ditching the SOB? Curious minds…..

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  50. Maili
    May 01, 2009 @ 09:56:23

    The discintion is with the willing or encouragement to enforce the law.

    Historically, Scottish English women wouldn’t while highland women would kick a door down to assert their rights. Of course, it varied from one woman to another (and their families/friends/villages), regardless of location. Both sides had different attitudes. Highlands were all for it while lowlands disapproved. (There were lowlands women ignored the disapproval and enforced the law, but this was more common for women who had nothing to lose.) This is what I meant by ‘cultural difference’.

    Why the need for witnesses? Is this like the Muslim divorce where you must state the fact in front of X number of witnesses? And what canny thinking would she have to do? Reasons why she was ditching the SOB? Curious minds…..

    Witnesses to support the dissatisfied wife’s request for divorce; to testify that her husband hadn’t been home for three or more years; to testify that the husband was adulterous, or to testify that her husband had been living at a different permanent address for a certain number of days (thirty?)

    Anything that would render her husband “dead” will do because it’ll free her from the binding marriage with minimal fuss and without his presence. For men, it wasn’t that easy. I don’t know much about the history of this part, so I won’t say any more.

    Canny thinking. So many examples. One extreme example: make an appeal to remove all traces of her marriage from the records of a kirk/church she was married in. If granted, she would be declared as “divorced”. This only worked with certain Protestent churches, though.

    One of my ancestors used this method. Her first husband galloped off to Europe with a vague promise to return within two years. After four years, she gave up on him and filed a request to recognise his “death”. They removed the banns and all other traces, making her single, which allowed her to marry someone else.

    (I forgot why wouldn’t they just make her a widow. It may to do with the difficulty of proving that he was really dead? Might be easier to make her single? Will have to ask my uncle about that.)

    Commonest example:
    She could simply refuse to acknowledge her married name, returning to her maiden name or giving herself a new name. Witnesses will testify how long she was known by her single status and chosen name. If long enough, divorce will be granted because her husband wasn’t early enough to challenge her.

    Bear it in mind, Scotland is a country where you can legitimately and easily change your name without going through a legal process. Use it long enough–or in a place where people will know you by your chosen name–will have it recognised as a legal name. Because of the casual attitude to changing names and marriages–when women died, they were buried under their maiden/birth names, not their married names.

    These are two examples of many, many! :D Hence the canny thinking creative ways of obtaining a divorce.

    I have to say, I have no idea whether these practices had any real legal basis. Woudn’t be surprised if it wasn’t, but were common enough to be “legally” acceptable in some areas, e.g. no objections from courts, sheriffs, councils etc.
    If it wasn’t legal, many didn’t see a problem with manipulating the legal system to make it so. :D

    The practices died out when approaching 20th century, though. When I was a child, divorce was quite rare because it became a social taboo by then. At around that time, people just abandoned their marriages and lived with their so-called “common law” spouses, instead of actually divorcing to remarry. Feh.

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  51. LaurieF
    May 02, 2009 @ 13:49:46

    Read the book yesterday. Fabulous!
    Am looking forward to the next book in November.
    Now I’m off to read the new Suzanne Enoch and
    Julia London. Budget…..what budget!

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  52. Dana
    May 03, 2009 @ 14:51:43

    Holy shit, there’s an ARC of To Desire A Devil up for sale on Brenda Novak Online Auction. Link

    If I had any money, I’d so bid, but it’s already up to $69. *sigh* Guess I’ll have to wait until Nov.

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  53. GrowlyCub
    May 25, 2009 @ 18:36:05

    I just finished this today and I liked it a lot, but it again was missing that last spark that would have put it in the A category.

    I deliberately didn’t read the preview cause November is far, far away, but I’m looking forward to the story. :)

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  54. Sarah MacLean
    May 26, 2009 @ 22:04:05

    so so so happy to see that you gave this an A…I read it on Saturday and still can’t stop thinking about how terrific it is!

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  55. Mireya
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 10:32:43

    I am 2/3s into this book… I started it yesterday. I have to say that it’s one of the most beautifully written retellings of the Beauty and the Beast-like storylines I’ve ever read. It’s one of my favorite types of stories. I can’t say I am a convert to this author’s work yet as this is the first of her books I’ve ever read, but I most definitely intend to try other books in her backlist.

    On a side note, I love the changes done to this blog as it pertains to the handling of comments. It’s great to have a bit more control of my own replies.

    ReplyReply

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