Book 7 in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series is Darling Beast, Apollo’s story. I’m quite used to popping into the middle of a series, and most author’s do make the effort to give some background information to characters that are recurring, and the author’s choice to use the narrator responsible for earlier books in the series left me hopeful.
I love historic romance: I want the characters to jump out and impress me, give me something that makes them memorable and interesting. And while Apollo had that in spades with his escape from Bedlam and hiding as a simple gardener while he restores the site to its former glory, It is a lovely hidey hole, and he is content to remain unnoticed (and uncaptured), ignoring the complication of the actress and her family who have taken residence.
Lily is an actress on the downswing of her career, and is hoping to recapture some of the glory, this time as playwright. Her son added a nice touch of openness to her, and surprisingly she wasn’t hardened or jaded by the struggles she has endured.
And then – the transformations and meat of the story: troubled hero grows and changes as he struggles to prove his innocence. Fallen woman convinces him to come back to love and life, and discovers her own redemption. Only after some incredibly hot and smutty moments.
And there are secondary characters and the murderer’s reveal – all elements that should have added to the story’s tension but missed the mark for me: there were no real surprises, and while the interactions were frequent, the dialogue moved from ‘almost natural’ to feeling forced. With the lack of pointed inflection that would enhance the emotional impact of varying moments, Ashford McNab’s performance was uninspired, and while not flat, was not what I was hoping for. She does mage to keep characters in their own voice, although some of the voices are far more pleasing and mellifluous than others, each did have a solid tie to a character. I expected her performance to feel more familiar with the characters and story, but to me, it was lacking in commitment – a merely middle of the road performance.
This is book seven in the series, and perhaps the earlier installments would have given me a better sense of the characters and Hoyt’s storytelling: but while I found this enjoyable, it didn’t reach the level of a ‘can’t put it down’ or instill a need to rush out for the other titles in the series.
Stars: 3 Narration 2 Story 3
Title: Darling Beast
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Genre: Historical Romance
Narrator: Ashford McNab
Published by: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 41 minutes
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A MAN CONDEMNED . . .
Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown's soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he's quickly driven to distraction . . .
A DESPERATE WOMAN . . .
London's premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she's forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren't the only inhabitants—a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there's more to this man than meets the eye.
OUT OF ASH, DESIRE FLARES
Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he's forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.