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