REVIEW: Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt
SHE’S TAKING CHARGE
Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother’s investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London’s premier pleasure garden, Harte’s Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can’t be controlled.
HE’S RUNNING THE SHOW
Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn’t have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden’s larger-than-life owner, he’s already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He’s not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.
BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL
In spite of her lack of theatrical experience-and her fiery clashes with Asa-Eve is determined to turn Harte’s Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There’s no denying the smoldering fire between them-and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all . . .
Dear Ms. Hoyt,
The heroine is who got me interested in the previous book in this series,“Dearest Rogue,” and it’s the heroine, showcased in that story as our upcoming star, who made me want to read this book. Honestly, I hoped for and expected more than I got.
Eve’s rigidly controlled – but with banked fires as Asa tells her. He’s blatant virility and larger than life. She’s intelligent and no nonsense. He’s exuberant and in-your-face. Neither is wowsa attractive at first glance and their initial meeting in this story is full of bombast and sparks. She rubs him the wrong way with her priss and he’s equally determined to return the favor with his earthy vitality.
Asa is shocked to discover that the man bankrolling his business, a London pleasure garden/theater, uses his bastard sister as his “Man” of business. Eve has been given a firm grip on the Ducal purse strings and has given her word to Val to earn back the considerable stake he’s already invested in Harte’s. Why Val is so interested in it is not Eve’s concern.
She is closer to her asshole brother than any other person but even then she doesn’t know what he’s up to with the theater beyond Val’s usual obsession with gaining tidbits and information to blackmail people. Still, Val was there for Eve when she needed him and she defends him against all.
Asa is annoyed by having Eve pawing through his accounts and books but something about the buttoned up woman intrigues him. There are hints about some really troubled shit in her background. Which is fairly easy to guess given the information presented. Meanwhile, Asa has family issues, but then who doesn’t? Eve’s strong armed bullying him back into the family fold is the means to quickly introduce past characters from the series which I pretty much skimmed since I know none of them.
Meanwhile Eve is attracted against her wishes to Asa who is the most alive man she’s ever met. He makes her feel alive and daring for the first time in her life and though she’s a little scared of taking chances, something in Asa emboldens her.
She has two paralyzing fears in her life – dogs and being touched by men, which Asa quickly sees first hand. Yet within days of being scared out of her sanity by both (screaming loud enough to bring people running and lapsing into a catatonic state), she’s done a 180 degree turn and decided to save a half starved dog – a mastiff, no less – and is questioning Asa about manual satisfaction before watching him masturbate in a carriage. Really?? There’s also a whole lot of Asa manspreading throughout the story as well as scenes of these people inviting first name usage and spilling life histories five minutes post introduction.
There is something eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil from Eve’s past that causes her nightmares and made her otherwise dastardly brother buy her a bodyguard who has been with her for ten years. As I mentioned, it’s fairly easy to guess what is behind all of Eve’s issues with the only question being just how far did the awful truth of it go. Since the evil people are male aristocrats of the 18th century, one guess as to what it is and only half of that guess counts. The ultimate villain of her life who appears here and has it in for the pleasure gardens… well, the motivation is a bit pedestrian and a let-down.
Now that Asa has Eve gagging for it and vice versa, and both think the other is the greatest person bar none ever in their lives, is it mawwaige time? Nope, not yet. Asa is wedded to his business into which he’s poured his blood, sweat and tears. He just doesn’t have time for a wife and family. I did applaud Eve for going all out for what she wants and when Asa acts like an ass, for being willing to walk away. His about face is public and far too sudden. I actually enjoyed their private exchange of avowals better.
The book ends with an obvious set up for the next one. The hero is foul, the heroine is strong but I can’t say I’m on fire to read it as perhaps too good a job has been done making him nasty with no hints as to why. I might change my mind but my lackluster response to both the books I’ve read in this series doesn’t motivate me to read any further. C
I was enjoying this review until I got to this: “Now that Asa has Eve gagging for it and vice versa …” I fI found this pretty sexist. Maybe it’s just me.
Ordinarily I like Hoyt’s books, so I’ll give this one a try.
This particular reviewer may not be a good match for this series. I am a fan and enjoy visiting with characters from previous books. I definitely have enjoyed some entries in the series more than others, but I will read any historical with Elizabeth Hoyt’s name on it.
@Linda: I agree with you about this series not working for me. I think my last paragraph spells out why. Some authors handle introducing characters from previous books better than others and in the two books I’ve read of this series, Hoyt seems to take the “dump them all in one scene and get it over with” approach. This doesn’t explain them to me, doesn’t make me interested in reading their stories and becomes a waste of time for me.
@NCKat: I hope the story works better for you than it did for me.
I’ve enjoyed the whole series and liked this one as well. I found the set up for the next book intriguing and I’m looking forward to it. I think fans of the series will find this one right up their alley and shouldn’t be put off by this review. I found Asa and Eve likeable and read the book in a day.
Linda nailed it when she said, “This particular reviewer may not be a good match for this series.” And to be fair, Jayne responded to her comment. My question is why any reviewer would select a book to review that she thinks she is unlikely to like in the first place? How does that help produce an objective as possible review? To be clear, I’m not suggesting that reviewers read _only_ those books they are sure to like. Not at all. But I’ve often seen reviewers on various sites reviewing books by authors that are clearly not to their taste or that they even dislike, and I’m not sure how that truly helps anyone. These types of reviews tell the reader more about the reviewer’s taste than the book in question itself, at least IMO.
This series has been a mixed but given the last 3 installments, it is surely going downhill. The concept is always intriguing and with hoyt’s name attached, I always end up buying it. But now her books its pretty much insta-sex. 2 meetings, 3 altercations and suddenly clothes are off. The character building really takes a hit. I feel zero investment with the characters. Its really sad bec she has been on my auto-buy for years
@Jean: I agree as well. I also don’t think reading a book in a genre you don’t normally enjoy precludes you from reviewing it, necessarily but it’s obvious this reviewer has prejudices to start with. Just my opinion. ;o)
Jayne has been a huge fan of Hoyt. Her year end lists often includes Hoyt books. No doubt she was hopeful this Hoyt book would succeed where the others failed.
@Jean: @Jane E: Here is a link to the reviews we’ve done for Elizabeth Hoyt – a total of 18 so DA bloggers do like this author and read her books a lot. https://dearauthor.com/book-author/elizabeth-hoyt-2/
If you’ll check the link, I think you’ll see that for this series (Maiden Lane) I’ve given the 2 books I’ve read C grades, one a C+ and this one a C. For previous series, the lowest grade I’ve given has been a B- and several books I’ve rated B+ and in the A’s. I do like this author. I have graded her books well because I felt those books were written well or emotionally appealed to me. This one did not. As Jane said in her response, I did hope that this book would work better for me. It did not. Perhaps part of my disappointment stems from having enjoyed so many of her past books and feeling this one a huge letdown.
As I mentioned in my review and in my earlier comment to Linda, given how this book and the previous one were average reads, I doubt I’ll read the upcoming one or go back and read the previous “Maiden Lane” books.
Thanks for this review Jayne. The Maiden Lane series has gone downhill for me for a couple books now and I really have no interest in Montgomery (just too unlikable for me to stomach) or Eve. So I thought about skipping this book anyway but now I’m sure as nothing in the plot you described grabbed me. Her sex scenes are great but the rest just kind of blah. There is one couple I’d come back for if they ever get their book but it’s time for another series break up for me.
@Jayne: You said… “@Linda: I agree with you about this series not working for me.”
And: ” I think you’ll see that for this series (Maiden Lane) I’ve given the 2 books I’ve read C grades, one a C+ and this one a C.”
While I can indeed understand one’s hope of liking a book, the odds, given your previous responses to this particular series, make the odds of the end result of your liking it more unlikely than not. Which in turns color my view of your review, which I think is not unreasonable or unfair if I, unlike you, have had different, more positive, responses to the books in this series.
You mean response. Singular, not plural. Jayne only read one book in the series before she reviewed this one. One point cannot create a line, let alone a trend. Given it was two steps below her previous lowest grade for a Hoyt book, and given Jayne had highly graded others, your comment that one book
makes no sense. It’s her only C+ grade. And that was the first book in a new series. I don’t know any reviewer here at DA who would give up on an author or assume the worst based on one unsatisfying read out of a set of otherwise good to great reads.
It’s more than fine to disagree with Jayne’s review. But to say that she chose to
is unfounded and unfair. Jayne specifically said that she picked up this book because despite the C+ grade for the previous installment, she liked the character as depicted in the previous book and hoped for a good read. For reasons that are not obvious, you have chosen to ignore that information.
@Jean – No one disputes your right to have a different or more positive response to the books in the series. Every opinion and review is merely one person’s response to the book.
The other responses were simply to your questioning why Jayne would decided to review this particular book. The why is because Jayne has in the past enjoyed Hoyt’s writing tremendously.
@Lisa: Now I’m curious about which couple you’re talking about.
I am looking forward to this book as I have enjoyed all of them for the most part in this series. Some more than others. The negative review here won’t keep me from reading it as I really only go by my own opinion and I sample read most every book I buy.
One thing I like about this series is that there is a whole bunch of characters that keep showing up from book to book that I have grown to like and/or find interesting. So even if there is a hero or heroine I find blah the supporting characters and the whole atmosphere can make the reading a pleasure for me.
@Jo Savage. Joseph Tinbox and Peach. They have to grow up of course but that pairing just works so well in my head : )