Every once in awhile, a book comes along that reminds me why I fell in love with the romance genre to begin with and where the true meaning of romance comes out: that you’re good enough as you are; that you are accepted as you are; that you are worthy of love.
Just as you are.
Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt is that book for me.
And honestly, I knew before picking up this book that it would go straight to my keeper shelf. Ms. Hoyt always astounds with her remarkable details and depth of feeling. I didn’t expect, however, for this book to have such a profound impact on me.
Initially, I read the book for Hugh. Readers are introduced to him in the previous book as the King’s acknowledged bastard, and he is a widow with two sons – children who hardly know him. He is an enigma I wanted to solve, and I did adore him. Alf, however, stole the story for me.
This is, quite simply, a coming-of-age story that had me charmed from the very beginning. Alf has spent the last two decades as a boy, and after losing her close friend, has been faring for herself in St. Giles.
The feeling of flight, the happiness she finds in the freedom of jumping roofs as the elusive Ghost, is a big part of her journey, and when she finds that same feeling in Hugh’s arms, she owns it. Alf is the one who saves Hugh in the opening scene, and right away, she makes her attraction to him known. Alf revels in it, even if – or especially because – she has lived decades as a male. It cements her decision to ultimately help the duke find his attackers.
Hugh, for his part, is the catalyst that helps Alf grow into her womanhood. When Alf’s disguise crumbles and the duke requires the woman, Alf, not the informant boy, she is plagued with doubt, and I love how Hugh took charge. Where’s the courageous Alf? He asks. He needs her to do this, praises her skill and her upbringing, and knowing Alf like he does, she takes the bait and rises to the challenge.
This is, quite simply, a coming-of-age story that had me charmed from the very beginning.
Likewise, Alf brings Hugh to his knees. He is scared shy of love after his wife’s infidelity, and the chasm between Hugh and his children is heartbreaking. Alf’s honesty and forthright nature are exactly what he needs.
And, typical of Hoyt, the heat between these two is there and steaming hot. Alf initiates the intimacy on more than one occasion, and I loved this! Hugh didn’t stand a chance against her, and I loved when the Duke lost his soldier persona – the protector and gentleman – for the lusting man beneath.
And oh, how this girl made even my eyebrows go up a time or two! There is one scene in the book where they must hide in plain sight…and well, I’ll let you read and delight in the how.
There is also a secondary romance featured, and I gasped at the ending. I can never wait for the next installment in this series, but we readers are in for quite a treat!
Duke of Pleasure is hands down my favorite read of the year. Well done, Ms. Hoyt. I have never been more proud to be a woman than I am reading this book. Another absolutely breathtaking and heart wrenching addition to the Maiden Lane Series.