The Leopard Prince

The Raven Prince

To Beguile a Beast

To Seduce a Sinner

The Serpent Prince

Wicked Intentions

Scandalous Desires
by Elizabeth Hoyt
(Grand Central, $7.99, R)  ISBN  978-0-44655-893-8
I don't care what other people say, you can never have too many pirate romances.  Fortunately for those who feel otherwise, "Charming" Mickey O'Connor isn't your typical pirate.  For one thing, he isn't swashbuckling.  Also, he pirates the Thames River, so his base is his "palace" in St. Giles instead of a ship.  On the other hand, as Silence Hollingbrook is about to discover in Elizabeth Hoyt's third Maiden Lane novel, Mick does count kidnapping and extortion amongst his many sins and crimes.

Scandalous Desires opens with the kidnapping of Silence's adopted daughter, Mary Darling, whom Silence has thought for some time likely was the offspring of the pirate.  Over a year before, Charming Mickey had, as far as Silence is concerned, destroyed her marriage when he forced her to spend a night with him platonically to keep her husband from being arrested.  William did not believe there was anything innocent about it, and things between them were strained until his next sea voyage, which also happened to be his last, and she's felt guilty and anger over the incident ever since.  Now, Mick holds "their" daughter hostage in order to keep both women safe from his biggest enemy, the Vicar of Whitechapel.

To say that Silence isn't cowed by Mickey's control over his little universe is an understatement, and they butt heads immediately and frequently thereafter.  Though Silence learns to enjoy and respect the man – despite her family's plotting to remove her from the situation – she cannot condone his lifestyle.  When the Vicar lays a trap within Mick's own household, however, Mickey relinquishes Silence to the safety of her brother-in-law's country estate.

Silence isn't surprised to miss the pirate, but she does surprise her family when she runs away with him – and is surprised herself when he takes her to the home of a perfectly normal and well-to-do English businessman who happens to be Mick's alter-ego.  Can the respectable and conservative widow and the pirate have a future together after all?  But Mickey's pride, his past, and his future will smash together and leave the relationship all but doomed.

This is a lovely series, though to read the blurbs on the covers one would think them to be pretty hokey.  They're not. Elizabeth Hoyt's style of writing envelopes readers into the dangers and disparities of the St. Giles district of London as well as in the lives of the protagonists, the bad guys, and the peripheral characters.  In a historical set in England, it is also refreshing to find something that doesn't revolve around balls and manners.  I am certainly looking forward to the next installment, and not only strongly recommend Scandalous Desires but the two previous novels, Notorious Pleasures and Wicked Intentions (okay, so the titles are a bit hokey).

--Sarrah Knight

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