I fully admit, I was prepared not to like Duke of Sin. Despite my love of Elizabeth Hoyt’s books, I did not understand his appeal at all in Sweetest Scoundrel. I found him rather despicable and just kind of odd. And well, the odd thing still holds true. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is one of the more different heroes Elizabeth Hoyt has created. He is just rather brazen in his likes, dislikes, wants and pleasures. Nothing will stop him from getting what he wants and he knows it.
When Val becomes intrigued by his housekeeper, Bridget Crumb, he does not expect that fascination to last or for it to go anywhere. She seems too rigid for his… amorous ideas and well, Val is all about pleasure.
Val is just really different. He is not a hero type I normally prefer reading about. He is almost dandy like in his obsession with color and fashion, in his fastidiousness and judgments about people. I tend to prefer really stereotypical romance heroes: manly men. But color me really intrigued when Hoyt showed me how much I would enjoy this romance. From the moment Bridget and Val are on page together, there is an immediate ferocity in their exchanges. Even when Bridget is initially wary about being too outspoken with Val, there is still a very vibrant chemistry between them. Val’s sly humor, which I found off-putting in the previous book, worked a lot better here. Elizabeth Hoyt does a fantastic job of exploring what makes Val tick, from his awful upbringing, to his important relationship with Eve, his sister. It was really good to see the man behind the mask as it were.
I also really liked Bridget. I was incredibly impressed at her efficiency in running the household of the Duke of Montgomery. I haven’t read a lot of historicals featuring housekeepers as the leading lady so it was refreshing and just really interesting watching her manage the house. She was well respected by the staff, that was very clear, but she was not afraid to step in and take of issues herself. I liked the inside look at her role in the household. It was very Downton Abbey-esque!
Val went through some truly terrible things growing up so it’s not surprising that he has a different way of looking at life. Bridget is the bastard daughter of a member of the aristocracy and that has influenced her entire life. I liked the scenes between Bridget and her mother and seeing that Bridget was far from a “mistake”.
As usual, the sex is HOT. Elizabeth Hoyt never shies away from writing scorching love scenes and this book is no different. Bridget and Val definitely set the sheets on fire (cliche, I know, but true) but they also just work together as a couple, as incongruous as they seem at first.
I clearly should never doubt Elizabeth Hoyt and her writing skills again. Shame on me! Fortunately my reward was a great story and another fabulous installment in the Maiden Lane series.
Duke of Sin is available to purchase now.
ARC provided by publisher, via Netgalley, for review.