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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt

The Duke of Sin just wrapped me up like a fabulous gift and drew me in! Valentine Napier, The Duke of Montgomery, is wonderful decadence hiding a broken boy's heart and years of secrets. A man brought up by a depraved father whose secret society, The Lords of Chaos, excelled at the worst sorts of excesses involving children, ghastly bacchanalia rituals and murder. Yet don't get too sympathetic for Val or enchanted by him because he is an awful man, ruthless, and described by his housekeeper as 'deadly as a coiled adder.'  Val thrives on power derived from blackmail and the secrets of others.      
His housekeeper, the prim Mrs. Crumb is hiding her own secrets. All beneath a housekeeper's dowdy robes and hideous cap. (We have met Mrs. Crumb previously, around the edges of the main story. As each novel of the series unfold, the stories of others in the series comes into play. We greet them as old friends taking on new hues.)
Echoes of Georgette Heyer and These Old Shades toll faintly. The characters of Devil and Leonie are somewhat on a par, except Valentine is so much more jaded, and his and Bridget Crumb's relationship becomes so much more explicit.
I loved the juxtaposition between the fairy tale (here, the cautionary tale of King Heartless) at the beginning of each chapter and the story. The employment of the fairytale as a lead in is superb. This use, as a foretelling of the events that follow is, put simply, just exquisite. 
I am amazed at how this tool works so effectively for each story in the series. How does Elizabeth Hoyt find just the right story as an allegory for the events that unfold and yet becomes just as captivating as the main story that flows alongside? Truly a gift. 
I adored this story so much that I had a solid few days of reading the Maidens Lane series from the beginning. And I kept asking myself how had I never read the series before! It's really different, and wonderful as its complexity morphs into the simplicity of selfless love conquering all.
The twists and turns in Duke of Sin really grabbed me. (Mind you that complexity is a part of all the novels). The verbal interplay between Val and Bridget as each tries to out jockey the other is appropriately barbed. The discovery of each by the other is riveting and wonderfully crafted. The coming into his humanity by Valentine is a slow recovery aided by Bridget. The sensuous relationship that develops between them is a thing of beauty. 
The Foundling Home in St Giles and its ladies as always play a huge part, as does the mysterious Ghost of St. Giles. A captivating story that held me in thrall into the wee small hours!
I am so glad to have had the chance to discover this series.

A NetGalley ARC


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