Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thief of Shadows (by Elizabeth Hoyt)

Thief of Shadows rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars
Release Date:  June 26, 2012
Maiden Lane series rating: N/A (haven't read them all)

"Thief of Shadows" is book 4 in this series. It can be read in order or as a stand alone novel. 

How are the sex scenes?
My, my, my Ms. Elizabeth Hoyt!  Scandalous sex scenes between a man of lower station and a lady of rank.  And for the time period - *fans face* - Why I've never seen a woman be so bold.

How are the story lines?
 This is a novel in every sense of the word.  The main characters have detailed lives and backstories of their own, several secondary characters steal scenes with unexpected pregnancies, murders, comic relief and forming the next novel's plot.  Hoyt's merging of story lines and seamless transition between characters' point-of-views is one of the best things about "Thief of Shadows."

Would you read it again?
Unfortunately, probably not...


Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt is a historical romance novel set in London, England 1737.

Baroness Isabel Beckinhall is a widow and member of the Ladies' Syndicate for the Benefit of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children.  The Home has just recently received contributions from society and the Home's manager, Mr. Winter Makepeace, has been dubbed too unsophisticated and unfit to brush shoulders with the high born and wealthy.  On her return from a meeting with Mr. Makepeace - where he fails to show - Isabel spots the Ghost of St. Giles in dire need of assistance.  She offers rescue and brings him to her home to heal where a burning attraction begins.

Mr. Winter Makepeace is stern, controlled and more than a little moody.  Grateful for the Home's monetary support he tolerates the Ladies who fund it, Baroness Isabel Beckinhall included.  When the Ladies' Syndicate appoints Isabel as his social tutor he suffers through their disastrous sessions.  He suffers because Winter knows she lusts for the Ghost, yet Winter lusts for her and if he guesses right - she lusts for him as well.


Thief of Shadows opens with Isabel spying the Ghost of St. Giles in a pool of blood.  This is a riveting moment for Maiden Lane series readers, yet it means little to someone reading Thief as a stand alone novel.  However there's still an unconscious guy dressed in way too much motley being loaded into a carriage while a mob pursues, so the reader should be interested.

Heroine Lady Isabel is quickly established as a modern 1700s widow, having taken a "few discreet lovers" then promptly sexually teasing the Ghost as he lays naked in her guest bed.  Being a historical romance, this is extraordinarily out of character for heroines.  These "promiscuous" women are usually mentioned as lonely, loose matrons destined to never find true love because they spread their legs for more than one man - or for the wrong one time and time again.  Lady Isabel is lonely, she is a matron, but a whore she most certainly is not.

"Are you calling me a whore?"
His head jerked back.  "No.  I don't-"
She stepped up to him, toe-to-toe, and jabbed a finger rather painfully into his ridiculously embroidered waistcoat.  "I may not meet your monkish standards of conduct, but that in no way makes me a loose woman.  Do you understand that, Winter Makepeace?  I enjoy the company of men and I enjoy bedsport.  If you are made uncomfortable by that fact, then perhaps it is your standards that you should look to."
...point for the lady.

Winter Makepeace also veers from the usual hero.  He wants Isabel, but he doesn't chase her.  He cannot be distracted by a woman when he's given his life to the orphaned children of St. Giles and is committed to bringing them all under the Home's protection.  Despite this, Winter handles Isabel's pursuit of him - and their steamy encounters - with a teasing, sexy confidence that leaves Isabel (and the reader) breathless. 

Thief tells a secondary story of the friendship between orphans Joseph Tinbox and Peach.  When Peach is brought from the street they form an automatic bond, Peach only speaking to Joseph and Joseph sleeping in Peach's bed to help keep her nightmares away.  It is endearing and sweet.  I'm not sure how far Hoyt is taking this series, but I will buy their book if she ever decides to write it. 

Hoyt also gives an interesting storyline to Lady Margaret Reading.  Any details will be spoilers, but I am looking for her story as well.

Though I have only read Thief, I suspect the Maiden Lane series is best enjoyed when read in order.  It seems many characters are introduced in the novels before their "story" ensuring the reader is 100% invested before cracking the cover.

You like it, why doesn't it get 5 stars?

I hate that I don't love Thief.  I'd also like to point out that I have read several reviews and everyone loves it except me.  And what do I know, anyway?

The first half of Thief moves really slow to me.  We meet the main characters and almost immediately Isabel starts her campaign for Winter.  I enjoy reading about a woman who goes after what she wants, but the little information I have about Isabel makes it hard to sympathize with her.  One time it is mentioned that Isabel is lonely and eventually she gives Makepeace a couple sentences about her insufficient marriage, but for the most part she seems no more than a woman who enjoys bedsport.  I know that's not the intention.  Perhaps if I read the previous novels I would know more of her character.
Somehow, Thief lacks a sizzling tension between Isabel/Winter, but on Isabel's part.  Winter covets Isabel greatly and there is mention of him focusing on her lips and bodice and wanting to take what she offers, etc., etc.  Yet when Isabel looks at him she sees his hard chest and is curious, but there is no panting, perspiring, lip licking... 

Again, everyone loves it but me so I could have read it wrong. 

It took me days to finish Thief and I even set it aside mid-novel to read another book - something I have never done.  It is well written and the second half is perfect, but the struggle to read the first half forces me to give Thief a 3.5 star rating.


Want more thoughts on Thief?  Read Miss Ruby Jones's Sweet Rocket blog here

Comment About It

Do you enjoy a forceful woman heroine or do you prefer the virginal maiden?

Please share!

Learn more about Elizabeth Hoyt and her upcoming titles on her webpage, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Read the Maiden Lane series. 
(Usually I would list the books, but Hoyt does a great job on her website.)

Published by Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette Book Group
Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this review. eARC courtesy of NetGalley.


  1. I don't have any opinion on virginal versus strong heroines one way or the other -- it truly depends on the story, to me.

    And you are not the only one who did not love this book. I was not crazy about it either, for most of the same reasons you listed. Here's my review, for what it's worth:

    1. It's worth a lot, and I'm reading now :)

  2. I didn't love it - struggled to finish - my least favorite of Hoyt's books I've read -- didn't like the whole "superhero" thing -- what's funny is I preferred the first half and found the second repetitive, predictable, and hurried 2 stars

    (FYI- absolutely LOVED Book 3 in this series!)

    1. The superhero thing was odd for me, too. I just thought it was a series thing I didn't understand because I read this as a stand-alone.


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