Type: Historical Romance
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
My Copy: Net Galley
SHE’S TAKING CHARGE
Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother’s investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London’s premier pleasure garden, Harte’s Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can’t be controlled.
HE’S RUNNING THE SHOW
Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn’t have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden’s larger-than-life owner, he’s already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He’s not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.
BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL
In spite of her lack of theatrical experience—and her fiery clashes with Asa—Eve is determined to turn Harte’s Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There’s no denying the smoldering fire between them—and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.
I have loved this series from the beginning; and this book is one of my favorites. Asa and Eve are a delight, I enjoyed the enemies to lover’s trope and their witty banter is a plus, Asa knows how to talk dirty.
Eve Dinwoody lives quietly in London working for her brother the Duke of Montgomery, a mysterious man who knows no bounds when he wants something. Eve knows the type of man he is, but he saved her from harm and has treated her well, even though he is a manipulator. When she believes the money he is spending on the rebuilding of Harte’s Folly is excessive she goes in search of the elusive Mr. Harte to get some answers.
Mr. Harte, also known as Asa Makepeace is the owner and manager of Harte’s Folly, a pleasure garden and theatre in London that burned to the ground a year ago. He is in the middle of rebuilding, with the help of the Duke’s money. When the duke’s sassy sister threatens to take away his capital, he is angry but agrees to let her look at his books, or scraps of paper and they settle in to a peaceful routine. Things quickly turn dangerous when it is apparent that several accidents have turned dangerous and deliberate. Someone is trying to sabotage his theatre.
I love Eve and Asa together, they start out as advisories but the attraction is immediate and they are soon working together to complete the theatre in time. She has issues with men from a situation when she was younger and he is amazing with her, and oh so sexy, she has a hard time resisting.
Again Ms. Hoyt has knocked it out of the park. This series has evolved over time and I have enjoyed the ride from the beginning. This is the 9th book in the series but can easily be read as a standalone as the author makes sure new readers are informed.
Eve is a wonderful heroine, a bit damaged from an incident when she was younger but her brother has protected her over the years, just as much as he has manipulated her. She lives quietly without many friends but relishes the people she meets and works with at Harte’s Folly. I love how the dancers and actors accepted her and she them. As Asa and her work together, she allows him to get closer, letting down her guard over time, he is wonderful to her and lets her set the pace.
Asa is amazing; he is a perfect hero, a bit jaded around the edges but with a heart of gold. He has struggled throughout his life to make it after his father threw him out and last year’s fire almost destroyed him, but with the duke’s help he is almost back. Unfortunately someone is trying to thwart his efforts with so called accidents, and on top of everything he must deal with the duke’s sister and her threats about money. Yet they find common ground and work together and he realizes she is more than she seems and the attraction grows. I love the sexy scenes they share and the way he talks…
The pace of the story works well and I found myself wanting to read straight through to the end. I like the mystery and danger that the author weaves into the story which seems to continue into the next book as we get a little taste of Bridget and the duke’s introduction, I am very intrigued. Other secondary characters play large roles in this book, I enjoyed Eve’s bodyguard Jean-Marie, he is ever present as her friend and protector, and I also like seeing Alf, the mysterious person that runs errands in and out of St. Giles. We also get to see several of the Makepeace clan, Asa’s family, they have been prevalent throughout the series and I like how the family comes together in the end.
I highly recommend this series; whether you want to read from the start or begin with this book, they are all delightful.
I give Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt 4.5 stars!
“What do you see when you look at me?”
What did she see when she looked at him?
Eve inhaled, trying and failing to tear her gaze from his.
Mr. Harte sprawled across her dainty settee like a Viking marauder in a pillaged Christian church. His broad shoulders took up more than half the width, his arms lazily draped over the back. His scarlet coat was spread open, contrasting with the sedate gray-
blue of the cushions almost shockingly. One long leg was thrust straight before him, the other cocked open and resting on a booted heel. The pose made the apex of his thighs very . . . obvious . . . and even as she kept her eyes locked on his she could feel heat rising in her cheeks.
What did she see?
She saw violence and anger, kept under a control that was tenuous at best. She saw power and a strength that could hurt her—kill her—if he so chose. She saw the innate brutality that was, in larger or smaller part, in all men.
She saw her most terrible fears.
But—and this was the truly unprecedented part—she saw more in him. She saw temptation—her temptation—alluring and frightening at the same time, his virility so strong it was nearly a visible miasma in the space between them.
She wanted him. Wanted that brash gaze, those long, muscled thighs, that mocking, insulting mouth, and the shoulders that went on forever, big and brawny and so
very, very male.
This was madness—she knew that intellectually. She’d never wanted a man before—was in fact afraid of almost all men, let alone one so obviously, blatantly sexual.
She took a breath, hoping that he couldn’t read all this from her gaze—and knowing it was a lost cause already.
His heavy-lidded green eyes were far, far too perceptive.
“I see . . .” She paused to lick suddenly dry lips. “I see that your hairline is nearly a perfect arc across the expanse of your forehead. That your eyebrows tilt ever so slightly up at the ends and that the right has a scar through it. I see that when you are solemn, the outer edges of your lips reach just to the midpoint of your eyes, but when you smile, they go beyond the corners. I see that your chin and jaw are almost in classical proportion and that a small white scar forms a comma on your chin just to the right of center.” She finally glanced away from him, breathing heavily, certain that she’d not thrown him off the track with her artist’s eye’s impressions. She inhaled again and ended, “I see every line of your face, every line’s intersection and how they relate. That is what I see when I look at you.”
“And is that all you see? Lines?” His voice was deep and amused.
She chanced a peek.
He still watched her, his gaze utterly unperturbed by her observations about his countenance.
No, she’d not fooled him at all.
She licked her lips again, buying time. “I see,” she said carefully, cautiously, “a very self-possessed man.”
“Self-possessed,” he drawled. “I’m not sure what that means, frankly. It sounds, just a bit, like a coward’s answer.”
Her gaze flew to his, outraged.
But before she could take him down a peg, he chuckled softly. “Tell me, Miss Dinwoody, would you like to know what I see when I look at you?”
She shouldn’t. She really, really shouldn’t.
“Yes,” she blurted, and then winced because she knew well enough what men
thought when they looked at her: ordinary, if they were charitable. Plain if they were not.
She braced herself for mockery, but when she glanced again at him, his gaze was hot and hard. Certainly not gentle. Certainly not kind. But he wasn’t dismissing her, either.
He looked at her as if they were equals. As if he really saw her, a woman to his man.
“I see,” he said, his deep voice musing, “a woman afraid, but fighting her fears. A woman who carries herself like a queen. A woman who could rule us all, I suspect.”
She gazed at him, her breath caught in her throat, afraid to exhale and break the spell.
A corner of that wicked mouth tilted up. “And I see a woman who has a deep curiosity. Who wants to feel but is worried—of herself? Of others?” He shook his head. “I’m not sure.” He leaned forward slowly, destroying his pose, and she had to fight herself not to scoot her chair away from him. “But I think she has a fire banked within her. Maybe it’s only embers now, glowing in the dark, but if tinder were to be put to those embers . . .” He grinned slowly. Dangerously. “Oh, what a conflagration that would be.”
Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weeklyhas called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.