Are you craving a novel set in the darkest and seediest parts of London, where a violent predator is on the loose? Are you drawn to broody and emotionally unavailable heroes, with desires that cannot be named in polite society? Do you like a heroine with secret desires of her own? If so, you will enjoy Elizabeth Hoyt’s Wicked Intentions.
Lord Caire is on the hunt for a murderer. His mistress- a woman who catered to his very particular sexual needs- was violently murdered in her St. Giles home, and he cannot rest until the culprit is found. Unfortunately for his cause, the impoverished people of St. Giles have no interest in speaking to an aristocrat. He needs an ambassador; someone who knows the neighborhood and her people; someone trustworthy; someone like Temperance.
Temperance is a widow who runs an impoverished foundling house for the orphaned children of St. Giles alongside her brother, Winter. After the death of their patron, funds have dried up and they’re desperate to keep the home going. It’s this desperation that drives Temperance to make a dangerous deal with the infamous Lord Caine. She will help him find the murderer, and he will help her find new patrons. It’s only a matter of time before they realize they’re both endangered by their desire for one another.
This was the first book I’ve ever read from Elizabeth Hoyt, and I enjoyed it enough that I’ve read two more in the last week. However, I do have a few bones to pick at the offset.
First, the story is set in the 1730s, and yet the societal conventions feel much more like the regency
era. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but the early Georgian period was quite different from the Regency era (nearly one hundred years later), and I don’t think Hoyt studied the differences sufficiently. Admittedly, I studied history and these little details matter more to me than others.
Second, the first third of the book references Caire’s sexual perversions and unusual proclivities. It turns out that he likes to tie women up and blindfold them. Maybe I’ve read too many steamy romances, but that doesn’t strike me as deviant- even in the 18th century. Considering this book delves into the London underworld and takes the reader into brothels which provide women, men, boys and girls, I just don’t think light bondage would signify.
Even with these (relatively minor) issues, I liked the book. The sexual tension between Caire and Temperance was well done (though I’m still not sure what they see in one another beyond their sexual compatibility). The conflict was inventive, but believable, and the side characters added a great deal to the story. In fact, I’m appreciating the subsequent books in the Maiden Lane series even more because they were set up well in book 1. The “who-done-it” element also adds a great deal to the overall narrative. I also want to praise Hoyt for doing something fairly unusual in the romance world- she calls a penis a penis. Seriously. It was refreshing to see the actual word rather than a euphemism.
I wouldn’t recommend this book for someone who likes a sweet romance or for those who dislike morally ambiguous main characters. For the rest of us, there’s a lot to love. So when you’re in the mood for something dark and steamy, look no further than Elizabeth Hoyt’s Wicked Intentions.
Content Warnings: Violence against women and children.
Favorite Tropes: Rakish hero. Do-gooder heroine. Quid-pro-quo arrangement. Class difference.