I’ve mentioned a few times how much I enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt’s books. I dig the Georgian setting (with modern sensibilities), the less-than-perfect characters, the ethical questions that are explored. I abso-freaking-lutely adore the way Hoyt arranges the story so that it weaves around a legend that introduces the book’s main themes–and that those themes differ in each book. (I hadn’t realized it before, but those legends, which are told throughout the chapter introductions), are rather like the Opening Collects of all sorts of liturgies.) Anyway, I just love these books, and it’s always a fine day when I sit down to read one.
The blurb, courtesy of Goodreads:
When Strangers In The Night
He lives in the shadows. As the mysterious masked avenger known as the Ghost of St. Giles, Godric St. John’s only goal is to protect the innocent of London. Until the night he confronts a fearless young lady pointing a pistol at his head—and realizes she is his wife.
Lady Margaret Reading has vowed to kill the Ghost of St. Giles—the man who murdered her one true love. Returning to London, and to the man she hasn’t seen since their wedding day, Margaret does not recognize the man behind the mask. Fierce, commanding, and dangerous, the notorious Ghost of St. Giles is everything she feared he would be—and so much more.
Desire Is The Ultimate Danger
When passion flares, these two intimate strangers can’t keep from revealing more of themselves than they had ever planned. But when Margaret learns the truth—that the Ghost is her husband—the game is up and the players must surrender…to the temptation that could destroy them both.
I love a good courtship story, but I also get a real kick out of stories that are basically about a couple of strangers who are married (or otherwise tied to one another) for whatever reason and have to muddle through the muck and mire of interpersonal nonsense in order to reach their happily ever after. These stories are refreshing (to me) because (1) the author doesn’t have to spend time dreaming up ways to throw the characters in company–they’re stuck together– (2) they fly counter to the idea that marriage (or even an engagement) is an end unto itself, a guaranteed happily ever after, and (3) they occasionally contain darker or deeper themes than courtship stories (the characters marry, and suddenly the heroine isn’t just herself, she’s also “wife,” and that added identity can make it more difficult for hero and heroine (also husband and wife) to develop a relationship as individuals outside their marital roles.).
Anyway, Lord of Darkness is a fun twist on the strangers married story type. Not only are Margaret and Godric (got to love a romance hero named Godric, right?) pretty much a pair of married strangers, but they also have to work through an added layer of difficulty–Godric’s secret identity. Also, both characters show up with the emotional baggage of a former love (Marianne Dashwood would be horrified), and Margaret’s biological clock ticks at a deafening volume. I love me some deep-seated emotional issues, so I was a very happy reader as Godric and Margaret each worked through their grief and guilt with emotional poignancy and occasional humor.
As usual, my favorite thing about the story was the legend that was told throughout the chapter introductions, calling attention to the book’s main theme (between the characters, at least), the restoring power of love. Beyond that theme, the book also discussed social justice, vigilantism, depression (in a way) and family, among other things.
I’m not saying that I loved everything about the story. The intrigue plot felt like a little bit of a redo, and it seemed (to me) as though Margaret took Godric’s news way too well. But on the whole, I enjoyed this book, and I’m super excited to read the next one. I highly recommend this series (and all of Hoyt’s books) to anyone looking for romances with interesting characters set in Georgian England (but with modern sensibilities and language) that explore deeper themes than just person A meets person B; they boink. (Actually, that would be a fun story to read…)
Interview with Elizabeth Hoyt
I want to start by thanking Elizabeth for coming on the blog today to answer some questions about her newest release. As those of you who have been following this blog for a while know, I’m a bit of a fan, and I clapped my hands like a little girl when I found out I had the opportunity to host an interview with her on the blog and offer a giveaway of her current series. (Seriously… I was in public when I read the email… my husband was pretty embarrassed.)
1. RwA: Is there any historical example for the Ghost of St. Giles, a real-life vigilante?
Hoyt: I don’t know of any real-life examples (there are of course plenty of fictional ones.) I do know about an example of a historical urban legend that worked kind of like the rumors that swirl around the Ghost. In the late nineteenth century several newspapers reported on a figure called Spring-Heeled Jack, a sort of satanic figure with glowing red eyes who popped up and scared people. He was supposed to make inhuman leaps, hence his name.
2. RwA: When I read this book, I noticed some parallels (possibly of my own imagination) between the individual ghosts and some modern vigilante archetypes. Did my imagination get away from me, or are there parallels?
Hoyt: You mean fictional characters? My Ghost was definitely influenced by the modern Batman films, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Scaramouche, and an obscure 1970s Disney film, Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarcrow.
3. RwA: What illness did Clara St. John have?
Hoyt: LOL! No one has ever asked me that. I think she had some type of cancer or tuberculosis.
4. RwA: Is it difficult to bridge the gap between a modern audience’s understanding of medical matters and a historical setting wherein many medical matters are unknown and mysterious (and in which the practice of medicine bears almost no resemblance to modern procedures)?
Hoyt: Actually, yes. It’s hard because we all know about germ theory and the importance of hygiene, especially around wounds, but really they had no idea back then. A lot of “medicine” consisted of wine or other spirits and herbs that might have no effect at all. But, oddly enough, people did survive horrific wounds that by all rights should’ve killed them either outright or by infection.
I did quite a bit of research into Godric’s arm injury in Lord of Darkness and the bulky, awkward splint the doctor uses is historically accurate—as is the fear of being crippled for life from a simple break. Bonesetting was an important art.
5. RwA: During this book, some of the male characters have a discussion about a law attempting to regulate the flow of gin in St. Giles. What is the significance of this law?
Hoyt: Overall there were seven gin acts put into law over twenty years trying to control gin in London during this time—most of which either didn’t have any effect or actually made matters worse. The act the characters are talking about in Lord of Darkness had to do with trying to arrest unlicensed gin sellers. Unfortunately, the act resulted in a lot of poor people who were selling gin out of wheelbarrows and carts getting arrested. It didn’t stop the bigger sellers (who paid bribes) or the overall distribution of gin. And there were several bloody riots with informers being lynched.
6. RwA: Most readers of historical romance have a familiarity with Regency England as a historical setting. What are some of the cultural differences between the Georgian period in which you set your books and the later Regency period?
Hoyt: The Georgian period is more earthy, more opulent, and slightly freer. Also, lady’s underwear hadn’t been invented yet. 😉
7. RwA: Lady Penelope is a delightfully awful character. Is there any chance that she’ll get to star in her own story? (I have my fingers crossed… she’s one of my favorite characters.)
No, but never fear, she does get her own happy ending. 😉
Thank you for having me on Reading with Analysis! Readers can learn more about my Maiden Lane series and Lord of Darkness at my website: www.elizabethhoyt.com. You can also chat with me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ElizabethHoyt), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethHoytBooks?ref=search&sid=1033016156.428653851), Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16202.Elizabeth_Hoyt), and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/elizabethhoyt/)
FOREVER Romance has generously agreed to host this epic giveaway and will send one print copy of all five books in the Maiden Lane series (Wicked Intentions, Notorious Pleasures, Scandalous Desires, Thief of Shadows, and Lord of Darkness) to one lucky commenter, chosen at random (thank you, random.org). There are, of course, some rules:
- This giveaway is limited to US residents only (sorry!).
- You must be 13 years of age or older to enter.
- You must comment on this post in order to qualify. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a topic.
- You must be willing to provide your mailing address in order to receive your copy of the book.
- The giveaway will run through 11:59 PM pacific time on Thursday, March 14. I will announce the super lucky winner on Friday, March 15.
Please leave a comment about vigilantism in literature (including comics), movies, and/or real life. Many of us enjoy stories about dashing heroes taking justice into their own hands, but would you really want to meet one? What is the draw? Feel free to ignore my arbitrarily chosen topic in favor of one that is more interesting to you. 🙂
Lord of Darkness was released on February 26, 2013 as a mass market and e-book from Forever.
* FTC Disclaimer – I received an e-galley of this book from Forever through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. *