Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt (Maiden Lane #7)

Darling Beast by Elizabeth HoytAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

My Copy: NetGalley

Reviewer: Pam

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. I love this series; every single book has been amazing. I have been looking forward to Apollo’s story since we met and watched him suffer in Bedlam. Now that he has escaped, the race is on to find the real killers with the help of friends and a lovely actress.

Lily Stump is an out of work actress, living in the ruins of the grand theater, Harte’s Folly. With her son Indio and her friend and former nursemaid Maude, they are trying to eke out a living with the help of Asa Makepeace, also known as Mr. Harte. She realizes the gardens are inhabited by another and she is leery and worried for her son because as they get to know Apollo she finds he is an enigma and is not sure what to think.

Apollo is in hiding; he is wanted for murder but he has good friends and a loving sister that want to help clear his name. He is a wiz at gardening and loves the feel of working with the land, so his friend Asa has him cleaning up his theater and creating an amazing maze. After he meets Lily he tries to stay away but her precocious son wants to become friends. When the authorities find him, he escapes and disappears to find his accusers. Lily meets him again at an estate she is performing at and his friends face danger as they try to solve the murder mystery.

This is another engaging addition to the Maiden Lane series. I have read each one and have enjoyed the mystery, danger and suspense they all bring to this happy reader.

Apollo is a wonderful hero; he has never wanted to assume the role of a Viscount, he is a man who enjoys working with the land, creating gardens that will delight a visitor. It was torture for him to while in that hell for four years and you can feel his emotions while he relishes the outdoors and the dirt in his hands. He suffered so much in Bedlam and is still affected by the torture, beatings and confinement he experienced. At the story’s beginning he is still unable to talk because of his most recent beating, and it makes the relationship between Lily and Apollo that much more endearing to read about.

I like Lily, she is an unusual heroine and she has had it rough these past few years, she was blacklisted for going with Harte’s theater group and lost all prospects of employment but she is resilient and still strives for more. Her son Indio is a delight, I love his curiosity and thoughtfulness with others and enjoyed that he is featured so much during the story and his friendship with Apollo is priceless. Her brother Edwin is a sleaze and treats her poorly, but she understands she lives in unforgiving times for women, yet what he did for her in the end makes me happy with how the relationship between the two ends up.

The attraction between Lily and Apollo is apparent, they dance around each other for most of the book as she does not know who he is and he is still dealing with the murder accusations but you can tell they feel something special for each other. And when they do get together the scenes sizzle and I adore the witty conversations they have. The mystery of the murders and why someone framed Apollo is interesting and I like the twist that had me guessing until the end. The secondary characters are pivotal and make interesting entanglements; I am still not sure what to make of the Duke of Montgomery, he is definitely an interesting man and of course Captain Trevillon and the lovely Lady Phoebe will have an exciting story to tell.

The pace of the book works well, we enjoy watching the relationship grow as Lily and Apollo get to know each other, the pace picks up when the world finds out that Apollo is still alive and living in the area and of course the danger is apparent while he tries to clear his name and the truth comes out. I do miss the St Giles story line a bit and I am not sure if it is finished at part of this series, I so enjoyed the mystery of the Ghost in several books. This is a must read of those that are keeping up with this series, and I also recommend it to those that enjoy historical romances with a tortured hero and an amazing romance. This is the seventh in the series but it can easily be read as a standalone as the author updates the reader about important instances.

I give Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt 4.5 stars!

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