Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
Lots and lots and lots of characters, oh my!
Even though Wicked Intentions takes place in England of the 1700's, it has the feel of the Victorian England of Charles Dickens' Oliver. This is the first book in the Maiden Lane series and I'm not sure how many books are planned, but there are certainly a lot of characters that were introduced and they all had pretty good storylines. There's Winter, Asa, Concord (not the grapes), Silence, St. John's, Mickey and the ghost of St. Giles. Of course one of the guys could be the masked avenger ghost, so that would only count as one book. I thought I knew who the ghost was, but Ms. Hoyt led me down the wrong path.
Anyway, this was a dark book with a gothic feel about it and I loved it. Lets see... we have Temperance, a pious widow who, along with her brother Winter, runs a foundling home in St. Giles neighborhood. She needs money to keep it running. She also has a big dark sinful secret... she likes sex! Not just any run-of-the-mill sex, but skanky sex, and she is ashamed, ashamed, ashamed. And she has a secret that involves sex. Then we have Lazarus, the handsome, silver-haired hero who doesn't like to be touched, which is why he ties his lovers to the bed when they do the big bounce. So, you see, this is a match made in heaven. Oh - I almost forgot the plot! Temperance needs money and a patron, Lazarus needs a guide familiar with the St. Giles neighborhood (you see, someone killed his mistress Jack the Ripper style), thus they have a reason to be together.
I found this book thoroughly fascinating with all of the characters running around; the secondary plots were little stories of their own and didn't have anything to do with the main plot, so probably some people will find this a distraction. I, on the other hand, found the secondary plots to be intriguing and can hardly wait to see what happens next. This book was rich with texture, the settings gritty and realistic, the characters well-drawn, and there were a number of things I didn't see coming.
I thought Ms. Hoyt's choice of names was interesting and very deliberate and could be a product of that time. I will have a problem when it comes time for Concord to have a story. I know I will think of fruit. Maybe we will just call him Con.
This is a dark intense love story and I can hardly wait for the rest in the Maiden Lane series. The next one, Notorious Pleasures, is coming in February of 2011.
Time/Place: 1700's England
Sensuality Rating: Spicy!