The Leopard Prince

The Raven Prince

The Serpent Prince

To Beguile a Beast

To Seduce a Sinner
 

 
Wicked Intentions
by Elizabeth Hoyt
(Grand Central, $6.99, R)  ISBN 978-0446-55894-5
****
Wicked Intentions is not a perfect story nor is it a tale that will appeal to everyone.  But it is a gothic in the purest sense, set in the 1730’s in London’s St. Giles area with a killer, a saintly heroine with a secret, a reclusive and mysterious hero and of course, a possible ghost.  Historically, I doubt everything is completely accurate and at times it almost feels like a different time period, but essentially it is a romance and it keeps the readers interest.  Wicked Intentions is worth your time.

Temperance Dews is a widow who has been helping run the family orphanage for several years.  Her older brother, Winter, actually owns the foundling home, but Temperance is the heart and soul of it.  They take in youngsters and raise them until they are old enough to be apprenticed.  It is rewarding even as it is maddening and slightly depressing. The story opens as Temperance is rescuing a baby from a terrible fate. The child is barely alive. She sees a man bending over another man and is frightened. But she gets home safely, gives the child to a wet nurse and finds herself alone with the man in the alley, who has followed her into her home. Lazurus Huntington, Lord Caire.

Caire has secrets. He detests human touch…it actually causes him physical pain.  The “why” is never really explained although it is inferred that he had a terribly lonely childhood; his father was a man who hated and treated everyone shabbily and his mother stood aside and did nothing.  In fact, she is still alive and while they see each other at society events, their relationship is extremely strained.  Caire confronts Temperance and asks her help: he is seeking a murderer; someone who killed his mistress and gutted her. It is possible he has killed before.  Caire did not love his mistress but feels he should do something. Caire also is certain he cannot love anyone.  He only had sex with his mistress when she was tied and hooded, which is how they found her.  His proclivities are known so he is not exactly embraced by Society, yet his title keeps him from being totally ostracized.  He needs Temperance to show him around St. Giles and since she knows the area, he wants her help.  She agrees but only if Caire introduces her to some rich men who might become patrons of the home.  The home is in dire financial straits and she needs help, too.

The story follows their investigation, and of course their friendship, lustful interactions and ultimately loving relationship.  But Temperance has a secret too.  She is certain she is a sinner because she enjoyed the sexual act when she was married, and is at times surprised by her lustful feelings.  She is ashamed and hopes to keep this from ever being known…yet her feelings for Caire may ruin it all.

On the one hand, I really enjoyed this unique take on the London world.  It was at times gritty and even shocking.  The contrast between this life and their forays into the social whirlwind were nicely contrasted.  The relationship grew at a reasonable pace and was even believable.  The villain was both easy to guess and a surprise since it seemed too obvious.  A ghost played a role and was actually set up for more stories about people on Maiden Lane.  A duke’s sister who befriends Temperance seems to be the next heroine.

There were some distracting side stories that still don’t make much sense.  Members of Temperance’s family were introduced, including her sister, Silence.  The side story about her travails with her sea captain husband and a “lord” of the ghetto seemed really far-fetched and I was never certain why it was included in the tale.  Maybe it too will become clearer in future stories, but it came close to dropping this one down into merely average territory.

Ultimately however, Wicked Intentions was about Lazurus and Temperance.  Their antics moved the story and kept the reader engaged.  Their antics were filled with mystery, suspense and many lust-filled scenes of play, culminating in their acceptance of love and their acceptance of each other with all their past peccadilloes and secrets.  Bravo to Hoyt for bringing the pair to life. 

--Shirley Lyons


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