“I really wanted to like this story. I read the 4th book in the Maiden Lane series and enjoyed it quite a bit. This book, however, featured two unlikable characters that I never warmed up to, or in the heroine's case, I slowly lost all respect for until I was rooting for the murderer to kill her.
What Worked: The murder mystery of who killed Marie Hume was actually quite interesting. I liked being privy to their entire investigation and the outcome was a plausible one. In addition to this, Hoyt's typical writing style of having a story within a story was an excellent addition to this, otherwise, sub-par romance. The addition of the mysterious Ghost of St. Giles helped keep the intrigue moving along also. There were a few secondary characters that I very much enjoyed as well, Godric and Lady Hero are among my favorites.
What Didn't Work: The characters of Lazarus (aka Lord Caire) and Mrs. Temperance Dews were just horrid. Hoyt spent so much time making Caire out to be a sexual deviant and someone who abhorred any kind of physical touch (from anyone--to the point it made him physically ill) that it's no wonder he never resonated as a hero with me. The physical touch issue was never fully explained nor addressed other than after awhile Temperance's touch no longer bothered him. His constant verbal bullying of Temperance was another issue with me. It was unclear if he was purposely trying to shock her, push her away from any emotional attachment to him or he was just an jerkwad. I settled on him being a complete jerkwad.
Temperance's characterization was not good either. She appeared to be a strong intelligent woman yet allowed Caire to repeatedly say things completely inappropriate to her. Things that often were extremely hurtful. She acted hurt by them yet she continued to go back for more of the same all of which she ultimately justified by 'realizing' Caire was only trying to get her to admit everything was for her own good. While reflecting upon it all she actually was thankful to him for helping her to admit what was buried within herself. In addition to this, her admission of her deepest inner secret guilt was enough to make me hate her.
I also think the Ghost of St. Giles thread could have been utilized more effectively. Since I've read another book in the Maiden Lane series I am more familiar with the Ghost but found in this book, for those who are just starting in this series, his plot thread might be a bit lacking. The thread of Temperance's sister Silence, was also quite lacking. It was choppy and failed to make a positive impact which may effect some readers' desire to continue on with the series.
In a Nutshell: Taking into consideration the negative with the positive this book rounds out to an average read. Hoyt does have a way of making her stories intriguing regardless the likability of her characters. However, if this had been my first Hoyt I might have considered shelving the rest of her books for an undetermined length of time regardless of the intrigue The Ghost of St. Giles produced. Thankfully it wasn't and I won't. She can write a great romance. This just wasn't one of them.”