Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Title: Duke of Desire
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane
Pages: 336
Genre(s): Historical, Georgian
Hot Buttons: Child Abuse (flashback)


Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him . . . only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.


Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.


Much to Raphael's irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involves herself in his life-and bed. Soon he's drawn both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael's past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael's own demons?


This is an intriguing romance with a hint of a mystery and darkness that I really enjoyed. It takes a strong story and compelling characters to grip me as this book did. I found myself sneaking away to read this as I really just wanted to find out what was going to happen next.

I absolutely loved both Raphael and Iris. Who doesn’t love a story of a man who is convinced that he is destined to always be in the dark, finding that through the love of a good woman, he can come into the light and live a happy life he’d thought impossible? Raphael was so damaged - poor man - and he just didn’t think he deserved Iris. Iris just wouldn’t give up on him, or their love, and she was strong and feisty while still being vulnerable. Brilliant character. Their love story was believable and that made me root for them even more.

There was also the ongoing revenge storyline about bringing down the Lords of Chaos. They were a vile group of people! We were kept guessing about the identity of the leader of the group - I kept changing my mind about who I thought it was out of the three characters we had. Having said that, I felt I had to suspend belief that Raphael or Iris wouldn’t have been able to guess at their identity - especially since the first scene of the book saw everybody (except Iris) buck naked. Even with a mask, I think you’d know! ;)

The implications (and reality) of child abuse by the Lords of Chaos made me feel physically sick. I’m not berating the book by saying that, as it was a significant part of Raphael’s back story and his reasons for so many of his actions, it was just uncomfortable to think about despite not being written graphically.

I also didn’t like what happened to Raphael’s servant, Ubertino and didn’t understand the reasoning behind it. It didn’t drive the story forward, and didn’t provide a further motivation for Raphael’s drive towards bringing down the Lords of Chaos. I know that it’s a real life situation but I’m honestly not looking for real life when I read romance.

And oh and for goodness sake - British people call it autumn!!

After reading I realised that this is the 12th (!) book in the Maiden Lane series. I’ve not read any of the other books but having scanned through their blurbs, it seems that this book really only connects to the previous book, Duke of Pleasure. Hugh makes an appearance in this book and there is talk of his first wife (a surprisingly loose woman called Katherine) and his current wife Alf. Did this book make me want to read that one? I’m not sure, to be honest, although I’ll admit to being curious. We’ll see.

I really enjoyed this book and it kept me interested from beginning to end. If you’re looking for a hero who is damaged and in need of the love of a good woman - and a good woman who just won’t give up on him - then I would highly recommend this book to you. So very nearly a 5 star read.

This is nothing to do with the author - or the book - but Raphael is scarred on his face - it’s a huge part of the storyline and his character. I’m not sure why the bloke on the front cover (as lovely as he is) does not show that. Bizarre! Still, it’s better than the horrible cover they used for the British version - so bloody boring!


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* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. *


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