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REVIEW:  Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

REVIEW: Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Dear Ms. Hoyt:

I have not read the previous two books in the Maiden Lane series.  While I loved your initial books, Jayne began to review the series and she did such a competent job that I kept putting the Hoyt historicals aside to read and review others.  I was hankering to get back in the game.  For those readers who are unfamiliar with Hoyt or had gone on a Hoyt hiatus, like me, I can assure you that this book can be read without knowledge of the previous two in the Maiden Lane series.  However, I did get the impression from other reviews that there is backstory in the other books which might make this reading experience richer.

Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt“Charming” Mickey O’Connor is a river pirate who steals cargo and imposes a protection tax on every dock in London. Mickey stole the contents of a ship that was captained by William Hollingbrook and the theft was blamed on Hollingbrook. In order to prevent her husband from hanging, Silence begged Mickey for succor. He agreed, but for a price. Silence paid this price but it ruined her in the eyes of all that she held close, including her husband. Silence lost her husband emotionally before his physical body expired.

Whether it was an apology of sorts or a way to tie Silence to Mickey (maybe both), Mickey left his infant daughter on the doorstep of the widowed Silence a year prior to the start of the book. When Silence and Mary Darling (the infant) are placed in danger, Mickey brings the two under his roof for protection.

Mickey O’Connor is not a male protagonist that everyone can support. He’s a real criminal and his victims were often innocents like Silence and her husband. Even when Mickey’s wealth exceeded all that he could ever spend in one lifetime, the spectre of hunger and want hung close on his heels. Or at least that is the excuse he gives to himself and others for why he continues his rapacious activities and his iron hold over the docks.

I’m unsure of whether Mickey is truly redeemed at the end of the story. I don’t believe I read Mickey as repentant of his criminal activity although he does have to make a decision about where his priorities lie.

I admit to being befuddled by Silence at times. Where was her anger at being left Mickey’s bastard; at being held hostage by him; at her marriage basically being ruined by his actions? Silence grew in personal fortitude during the course of the book, challenging Mickey, becoming less of a mouse. While the focus of the story is largely centered around Mickey, it is Silence’s principles that hold sway as she learns to get what she wants without sacrificing her beliefs in right versus wrong.

There is an interesting question that is raised by Silence and William’s marriage. William never loved Silence the same way after her encounter with Mickey. Mickey points out that William must not have loved Silence. I think of all of the second chance at love stories that are premised on big misunderstandings. If Mickey’s assertions about love and romance are true, real love would never fade nor be swayed by actions resulting from sacrifice. This is the attitude of Dimitri’s wife in Archangel’s Blade. Dimitri must go off and serve, perhaps even sexually, an angel who has become obsessed with him and will destroy his family. Dimitri’s wife is understanding. I felt that Mickey’s redemption turned on whether the reader buys into concept of love and romance that is propounded by Mickey.  In essence, Mickey’s argument is that his actions shined a light on a serious flaw in Silence’s marriage.  It does make her think about love, devotion and loyalty in a completely different light.

Scandalous Desires is a deeply romantic story, with both Mickey and Silence seeking redemption albeit in different ways. The setting is primarily the palace of Mickey in St. Giles and the larger society plays only a small part in the overall story, mostly as a hint for future books.  It’s hard not to be swept away by the writing in the book and while Mickey is a scourge, he does come to love Silence unabashedly.  Silence’s internal fortitude and her growing refusal to be silenced as she was in the past tips this book into the recommended read territory but I did wish for more anger from Silence earlier in the book. I guess that just wasn’t her character? B-

Best regards,


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REVIEW: The Ice Princess by Elizabeth Hoyt

REVIEW: The Ice Princess by Elizabeth Hoyt


As the madam of Aphrodite’s Grotto, the most infamous brothel in London, Coral Smythe knows everything possible about men’s needs and desires. Yet she’s never experienced the love of a single man-’not even that of Captain Isaac Wargate whose hawk-like eyes stare at her with both condemnation-and lust.


Captain Wargate heartily disapproves of the sensuous madam who always wears a golden mask. She lures his officers from both his ship and their duty. But when Coral herself is offered up as the prize in a game of chance, Wargate impulsively enters-and wins.


Now the puritanical navy captain has just seven nights to learn everything he can about the mysterious madam and what she knows of a man’s desires. But when Coral is threatened by the new owner of Aphrodite’s Grotto, will Wargate take a chance on the woman beneath the mask-and on love?

Dear Ms Hoyt,

Yep, Sin, ecstasy and love. The perfect blurb description. Except, wait a minute!, there’s no Duke and the heroine is, gasp, a madam of a brothel. I had started to read this novella when you began to publish chapters on your website but after a while I forgot to check for new material and time slipped away. When I finally looked at it again, I saw it had been published as an ebook and decided to just buy the whole thing. I enjoyed Coral during her appearance in “The Raven Prince” and am not disappointed in her story.

TThe Ice Princess by Elizabeth Hoytold, like the other “Princes” books, with a fairy tale – Coral is obviously the Ice Princess whose heart is frozen even while she longs for love. She’s encased herself and her heart to avoid pain, separating herself from what she does. She won’t let a man into her private life and is therefore shocked and angered when Isaac demands to be taken to her private rooms for their 7 nights vs the gaudy, stage set whore’s rooms she initially takes him to.

Isaac plays his hand carefully, like luring a skittish wild animal into trusting and believing him. He’s quite clever at this – just sleeping one night and playing a game the next. He talks with Coral thereby treating her like a person unlike all the other men who just wanted sex. He wants to get to know HER. This flabbergasts Coral. Who is this man? Why won’t he act like all the others and be satisfied with the outer shell of herself that she’s sold for years? He also lures her into revealing that which she’s kept hidden for years – the face behind her golden mask.

He keeps her off balance throughout the week, never going the easy way or accepting the pittance of herself she’s willing to offer. I kept thinking how horrible would it have been for her had she allowed him inside her heart only to end up being stuck back in Aphrodite’s Grotto once he’d left. He demands a lot of her but he also shows her himself – now, now don’t think nasty – to her so she can see him as a man rather than just a customer.

I like that Isaac doesn’t denigrate Coral for choice she made to begin her life of prostitution – she’s engineered things well for a person in her position and gotten the best deal out of life that she could. Isaac shows her sexual pleasure and makes sure that she feels it unlike the other men in her life who have been content or accepted that she got no enjoyment out of the acts they’ve done. As Coral thinks, prostitutes don’t deal in love, they deal in sex. That is until Isaac shows her real love.

Only the fact that she’s mainly kept to protectors vs the general public allows me to keep buying into the fairy tale that she isn’t a bubbling pot of venereal diseases after so many years in the profession. But then the story really does have to be read as a fairy tale and not just because of the “Ice Princess” one sprinkled throughout. It’s well known among his officers that he’s been to Aphrodite’s and I can’t imagine that the story won’t spread. That plus the fact that “Aphrodite” suddenly disappears only for Isaac to, equally suddenly, marry a few months later would have to be put together, like 2+2, by someone. But if they want to believe that her mask will have protected her identity as a madame, who am I to quibble?

After Coral buys out Jimmy and turns the Grotto over to the girls and bully boys, she leaves and hopes that Isaac will come after her. But as God told the man who kept praying to win the lottery then got disappointed when he didn’t, “You have to at least buy a ticket!” So since Coral didn’t intentionally leave any info about where she was going, she can’t get but so mad at Isaac for taking so long to find her. And he does propose so nicely.

So yes, it’s better to put on rose tinted reading glasses while checking this one out but I did and enjoyed myself. Thanks for giving Coral a HEA with a man who demands all of her so that he can love every bit of her. B-


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