My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/thief-of-shadows-by-elizabeth-hoyt
By day, Winter Makepeace is the staid headmaster of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children in St. Giles. By night, he dons a mask and harlequin’s motley and roams the streets as the Ghost of St. Giles, protecting London’s poor from those who seek to prey on the weak. But Winter’s secret life is fraught with danger and his luck cannot last forever…
Lady Isabel Beckinhall isn’t quite sure how she was chosen to represent her fellow benefactresses when it comes time to inspect the newly built orphanage in St. Giles. She does know there is something about the orphanage’s headmaster that makes her want to needle the oh-so-proper man. Then Winter fails to show for their appointed meeting, and as Isabel makes her way out of St. Giles she comes across the notorious Ghost lying beaten and unconscious in the road. She cannot leave the man to be killed, so she rescues the Ghost and heals him, not knowing that the tempting fugitive and the frustrating headmaster are one and the same. But when Isabel volunteers to tutor Winter on how to navigate society and impress potential benefactors, she begins to see that beneath the rigid façade of Winter lies a man who is so much more than what he seems.
Drawn together by desire, Winter and Isabel must overcome their own stubbornness, class differences, and more if they have a hope of being together. Even then, their burgeoning relationship may come to a swift end. Someone is kidnapping little girls in St. Giles and Winter will risk everything — even his life — to save them.
Elizabeth Hoyt takes readers from the dazzling ballrooms of London society to the darkest corners of the city’s slums in Thief of Shadows. The contrast between the two — mirrored by the contrast between Winter and Isabel — makes Thief of Shadows a fascinating story. Only an author like Ms. Hoyt could successfully pull two so seemingly disparate elements together into one engaging book.
Winter is a man at war with himself. He sees his identity as the Ghost as a “beast” he lets out, not realizing that it’s truly a part of himself he needs to accept if he ever hopes to be whole. He’s neither as coldly good or as ragingly dark as he believes, and I enjoyed watching him find himself in Thief of Shadows. The catalyst for his change is, of course, Isabel. She’s a delightful heroine who seems slightly shallow and is society’s version of perfect…until one looks beneath the surface. Like Winter, Isabel isn’t all that she seems. Yes, Isabel is strong, witty, and charming, and those aspects of her are delightful. But she also has a generous heart that’s been scarred by past wounds and there’s a vulnerability to her that touched me. Together, Winter and Isabel are an intriguing pair. Over the course of the story, they become the best versions of themselves when together. Not to mention the heat. Like his siblings, Winter was cunningly misnamed — he isn’t cold at all. The sexual tension in Thief of Shadows is deliciously hot, and when fulfilled… Well, I’ll leave what happens then for readers to discover.
Thief of Shadows is the fourth book in Ms. Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, but it can be read as a standalone. In fact, Winter and Isabel’s book seems to be the beginning of a trilogy within the Maiden Lane series. The identity of the Ghost of St. Giles has long been a mystery, so it’s no surprise that Thief of Shadows contains spoilers for the first three books. That being said, even if you read Thief of Shadows first, don’t miss out on the fabulously entertaining Wicked Intentions, Notorious Pleasures, and Scandalous Desires; they’re just too good to pass up.
I’ve been following Ms. Hoyt’s work since her debut, and to me she just gets better and better. My only problem with Thief of Shadows is that it ends with a cliffhanger that has me on edge for the next Maiden Lane book. Oh, how I want Godric St. John’s book! But until Lord of Darkness is released, I’ll have to content myself with re-reading the Maiden Lane series. And when it comes to books by Elizabeth Hoyt, re-reading is never, ever a hardship ;)