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HE CAN GUARD HER
Lady Phoebe Batten is pretty, vivacious, and yearning for a social life befitting the sister of a powerful duke. But because she is almost completely blind, her overprotective brother insists that she have an armed bodyguard by her side at all times-the very irritating Captain Trevillion.
FROM EVERY DANGER
Captain James Trevillion is proud, brooding, and cursed with a leg injury from his service in the King’s dragoons. Yet he can still shoot and ride like the devil, so watching over the distracting Lady Phoebe should be no problem at all-until she’s targeted by kidnappers.
BUT PASSION ITSELF
Caught in a deadly web of deceit, James must risk life and limb to save his charge from the lowest of cads-one who would force Lady Phoebe into a loveless marriage. But while they’re confined to close quarters for her safekeeping, Phoebe begins to see the tender man beneath the soldier’s hard exterior . . . and the possibility of a life-and love-she never imagined possible.
He cleared his throat. “Malcolm MacLeish is young and handsome—”
“A fat lot of good that does me, since I can’t see him.”
“— a gentleman of high spirits and quick wit and seemingly smitten with you as well.”
There was a silence.
“Smitten,” Phoebe said at last. “Smit-ten. The word sounds like a skin disease if you think about it too much.”
“He smiles every time he sees you,” he murmured quietly. Was he jealous?
“I smile every time I smell cherry pie.”
“You’re being ridiculous,” Trevillion said disapprovingly. “I don’t see why you’ve rejected him out of hand.”
“You sound like a querulous old aunt, scolding children for running through the house.”
“I am older than you,” he replied stiffly, “as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions.”
A terrible thought struck her. “Are you shoving me at Mr. MacLeish because I kissed you?”
“It was my very first kiss, you ought to know,” she said very rapidly, because sometimes it was just better to say the embarrassing thing and get it over with. “I’m sure I’ll improve with practice. In fact, I’m sure of it. Almost everything improves with practice, don’t you think? And really, if I had a just a bit of help from your end next time—”
“I am not kissing you,” he said with the awful finality of a judge pronouncing a death sentence.
“You know very well why not.”
“Nooo,” she said slowly, thinking it over. “No, I can’t say that I do, really. I mean I know why you think we oughtn’t kiss again: you’re as old as the Thames, you’re below me in rank, I’m too young and frivolous, and you much too serious, et cetera, et cetera, and et cetera, but frankly I don’t have any reasons not to kiss you.” She stopped for breath and to think and amended her statement. “Unless, of course, you’re either (a) a murderer running from the law or (b) hiding a secret wife. Are you?”
“I . . . what?”
“Are you,” she repeated patiently, “either a murderer running from the law or hiding a secret wife?”
“You know I’m not,” he said with impatience. It was a good thing she was so stubborn, because that tone might have put off many another young girl. “Phoebe—”
“So then there’s no reason at all not to kiss me again.” She folded her hands in her lap and smiled.
Publisher and Release Date: May 26, 2015 by Grand Central Publishing
Time and Setting: London and Cornwall, England, 1741
Genre: Georgian Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Lady Wesley
Elizabeth Hoyt’s books just keeps getting better! As I noted in my five-star review of her last book, Darling Beast, she has taken the Maiden Lane series in a new direction, adding characters while keeping the ones we’ve met before. Captain James Trevillion first appeared in Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3), leading a troop of mounted soldiers hunting for an accused murderer known as the Ghost of St. Giles. He wasn’t a villain exactly, but his strict devotion to duty put him in conflict with the heroes of the earlier books. Trevillion was invalided out of the army when his leg was badly broken after his horse was shot and fell on him. Now, walking with a cane but still able to ride like the devil, he has taken a job guarding Phoebe Batten, the young sister of a former adversary, Maximus Batten, Duke of Wakefield.
Maximus has decreed that Phoebe must have a guard because she is almost completely blind. of Phoebe was not born blind; her sight began deteriorating when she was twelve, and now at age 21, she can detect light but nothing more. The duke is not cruel or ashamed of her; he just wants to protect her from gossip or teasing or injury. And her brother knows that London in 1741 can be dangerous for any lady, even if accompanied by footmen; Trevillion, with his two pistols strapped across his chest, escorts Phoebe everywhere.
Phoebe is sweet, pretty, and charming to everyone – except Trevillion. She detests the restrictions imposed by her brother (although she loves him dearly) and is hostile toward Trevillion as a result (although she has full confidence in his ability to protect her). For his part, Trevillion accepts Phoebe’s enmity stoically while occasionally harboring secret tender feelings toward her. He knows that there can be nothing between a duke’s sister and a commoner.
The first chapter of this book is so cracking good that it could be a case study in how to set up a plot, introduce the main characters, and hook the reader. While Phoebe is shopping on Bond Street, four brutes attempt to kidnap her. Before Phoebe even realizes what is happening, Trevillion has shot two of them, stolen a horse, and is galloping away to safety with Phoebe in front of him. That’s the short, plain version of what happened. Ms. Hoyt’s version gives us the sights, sounds, and smells – especially Phoebe’s experience of the sounds and smells and riding a horse for the first time in years – as well as each character’s innermost thoughts and reactions. She is exhilarated by the experience, and Trevillion is impressed by Phoebe’s heretofore hidden passion.
Circumstances put Phoebe and Trevillion in an unusual position. They frequently are in close proximity, her hand on his arm, and sometimes they are alone, something that never would be allowed under ordinary conditions. There is this tension though, because they don’t like one another, except they sort of do, and it is a joy to watch them grapple with putting aside their preconceptions and get to actually know one another. Repeated kidnapping attempts bring the couple even closer, until finally Trevillion takes drastic action.
I’ve had some trouble writing this review because I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. Suffice it to say that they depart from London, and the enforced nearness and isolation bring Phoebe and Trevillion closer to one another. Each of them discovers the possibility of a whole new life they had never dreamt of before. Phoebe relentlessly assails Trevillion’s grim reserve, and he comes to appreciate her as so much more that just a blind girl. Unlike her brother, Trevillion is willing to let Phoebe try things even though she sometimes falls. It is just a beautiful love story and will melt the your heart and curl your toes.
Can you tell that I fell a little bit in love with Trevillion? To begin with, Elizabeth Hoyt’s Pintererst page features a photograph of Richard Armitage as Trevillion, and he perfectly fits the book’s description. Moreover, for all of his dour demeanor, Trevillion is a man of passion too. I simply adored this passage, which shows us Trevillion’s heart as well as Ms. Hoyt’s talent:
Trevillion watched Phoebe in the sea, the waves lapping about her ankles. She was laughing, her skirts lifted to her knees, her face shining in the sun, and he wished he could paint the scene. Keep it in his memory always.
Somewhere, at some indefinable point, he’d crossed a bridge and the bridge had crumbled behind him. There was no going back. He cared for Lady Phoebe Batten more than anything else in life. More than his family. More than his honor.
More than his freedom, should it come to that.
Bringing her joy was worth more than any amount of money. He knew – without doubt, without fear – that he would kill for her.
That he would die for her.
It was almost a relief, this realization. He might fight intellectually against it, using all those well-worn arguments: he was too old, she was too young, they were too far apart in class, but it simply didn’t matter. His heart had performed a coup d’état over his mind and there was nothing more to be done about it.
He loved Phoebe Batten, now and forevermore.
I have no real criticism of this book. Yes, the kidnapping story is rather convoluted and far-fetched, but that did not detract from my enjoyment At the end, I put it down with a happy smile on my face. In fact, it’s official: Dearest Rogue is now my favorite book in the Maiden Lane series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weeklyhas called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.
The winters in Minnesota have been known to be long and cold and Elizabeth is always thrilled to receive reader mail. You can write to her at: P.O. Box 19495, Minneapolis, MN 55419 or email her at:Elizabeth@ElizabethHoyt.com.