TITLE: Sweetest Scoundrel
BY: Elizabeth Hoyt
SERIES: Maiden Lane #9 (can be read as standalone)
GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLICATION: November 24th 2015 by Grand Central Publishing
TRIGGERS: Arson | Mention of physical and sexual assault of children. (For me, it’s pretty descriptive and can be really disturbing.) Trauma due to the assault | Wounded animal |
NOTES: I read this for #Tropeathon Readathon
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.
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.
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 . . .
First of all, even though I said this book can be read as a standalone, it is so much better to read the series in order. because the whole series has recurring characters and the main characters in each book already showed up in other books. Like Asa, the hero in Sweetest Scoundrel. He’d shown up in some of the previous books in the series so I already know him. But then again, I’ve only read a few in the series before reading this one and I’m not really confused as to who’s who. But most of the side characters are familiar to me.
Now. let’s focus on Asa and Eve and their love story. I don’t really remember Eve Dinwoody from the previous books but judging from some events that happened in this book, I’m pretty sure she already showed up before. She is a bastard of a duke and sister of the current one. Even though her brother accepted and cares for her, Eve is broken due to a traumatic event that happened when she was a child. I feel for her. It’s difficult for her to trust anyone, especially men and she can’t even stand a touch from men she doesn’t trust. And that’s why, I think it’s very heartwarming how understanding and patient Asa was regarding Eve. I’ve met Asa in previous books and he’s not the kindest character. He’s actually an ass most of the times, and it still showed in this book. But with Eve, he was different. He earned her trust and affection little by little and did everything in Eve’s time. (mild spoiler) The only time he lost it and insisted that he will do it without asking Eve first and even if she doesn’t like it is when they were attacked while in the carriage. Eve said he didn’t have to be violent but Asa insisted that he will do everything to make her safe, even kill…And that’s when I fell in love with Asa. It shows that he can be truly patient with eve because it’s what she needs but when needed, he would step up even if it bothers Eve. I think that’s very sensible. And in that scene, I also admired Eve more because she accepted Asa’s reasons, which shows she’s trying so hard not to be controlled by her trauma.
The attraction between Eve and Asa was not instant. Both of them even kept some of their initial opinions about each other till the end. The romance developed in a nice pace, which is not common in historical romances. I think, so far, their romance is one of the best I read in the series. It was so heartwarming but also very intense. There are also several steamy scenes. I wasn’t expecting the kind of steam in this book. Do not forget that Eve is not comfortable with a man’s touch. So the ways Asa used to make her comfortable in anything sexual were not that common and I never expected those scenes to be so hot. Extremely hot.
I like the conflicts in the story and how they’re handled. First, there was Eve’s trauma. I think that was handled really well. Then there was a fact that in the social ladder, Eve, despite being a bastard, is higher than Asa. Asa doesn’t have a title and not an aristocrat and the fact that his business needs the money that Eve’s managing is kind of refreshing in a historical romance that involves aristocrats. I love the mystery side of the story. There were dangers and suspense. There’s a bit family drama as well in Asa’s side and I like that. There’s just one thing about Asa’s past experience with a girl that I think wasn’t cleared enough. I would’ve liked more backstory about that.
As I said, the characters from other books in the series made cameos. I don’t know all of them but the ones I know, I was glad to see. My favorite side character might be Val, Eve’s brother. Sure, he isn’t present in the book but his name is constantly mentioned. He’s a big part of this story, and if I am honest, a big part of the series. Val is portrayed as some kind of an antihero throughout the series and was even a real villain in some books. Even so, he’s the most intriguing among all the characters in the series and I can’t wait to read his story. Another character that intrigued me is Alf, Val’s messenger. Alf is described as a boy with features of a boy, but I’m suspicious. You see, I just read a historical romance with a character that’s supposed to be a man but turned out to be a lady so I’m suspicious, no, hopeful that Alf is a woman and will have her own story in the series. I know it’s a bit far-fetched but like I said, I’m hopeful.
Another thing is the author’s deliberate inclusion of someone’s POV, a servant’s. Obviously, that servant will be more important as the series goes on but in this book, her POV is seemingly separate because it involves Val more than Eve’s. It’s another reason I can’t wait for Val’s story.
RATING: 4 blissful pages with lilies
I really enjoyed this one and ended up liking the main characters. Eve and Asa surprised me. I wasn’t expecting Asa’s soft side considering how ass he usually was in the previous books and I wasn’t expecting Eve’s development throughout the story. So if you love surprising characters in a heartwarming, steamy and suspenseful story, this one is for you.
Have you read this book? Or planning to? What do you think of it? Let’s chat.