As always I am in awe of the characters and situations Hoyt has created in the Maiden Lane series. An addictive collage of interweaving stories.
The Duke of Desire is at once devastating and delicious, a Beauty and the Beast reflection that calls to the soul.
Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore carries scars that repel and attract. His emotions are bound by his past. Cynical, dark and damaged--he looms large. He is a wonderful contrast to the intelligent and stubborn Iris.
Raphael has set out to destroy the Lords of Chaos. He had been introduced to Lords' depravity as a child when his father lead the group. A happenstance that has left him seared to his very being. He fled England and has just now returned. He is pursuing the hunt when fate intervenes and Raphael, having infiltrated the group, finds himself at a hellish bacchanalia with Lady Iris Jordan being served up as the main dish. The picture is horrifying, the attendant Lords 'were fighting over her like feral dogs over a scrap of meat.'
Raphael had met Iris some months before and felt a powerful attraction to her. Now he must rescue her from this wickedness. Of course there are twists and turns and things don't quite go to plan. I will say no more other than marriage was not the first option, rather the second. The story engages Iris and Raphael in the push and pull of that original attraction, leavened with a hearty dose of passion, as they attempt to either move forward or disengage from the relationship thrust upon them. A fascinating process.
I love that Iris Jordan, whom we met in the Duke of Pleasure, as the lifelong friend to Katherine, the late wife of the Duke of Kyle, now comes into her own. Not that she wasn't a force to be reckoned with in that story. But here, in the Duke of Desire, Iris truly emerges like a swan, given the freedom to unleash her true personae.
The balance of dark and light between Raphael and Iris is brilliantly woven. Each is a balm to the other as their story unfolds, with all the looked for angst and sensuality. I loved it!
I cannot tell you how sad I am that this is the last full novel in the series. I am desolate!
A NetGalley ARC