My rating: 4.5 stars
Winter Makepeace is a man with many secrets. The one thing everyone knows is that he’s a serious, somewhat dour manager of the foundling orphanage his late father founded. He works himself ragged taking care of 18th century St. Giles’ most vulnerable residents, children who would be sold or kidnapped into slavery and suffer all manner of unspeakable abuses if Winter didn’t rescue them.
Talk about a hero.
But Winter’s foundling home is funded by a group of well-to-do ladies with more experience of fashion than survival. And when one of them decides that the home needs a more polished manager, the widowed Lady Isabel steps in to educate Winter in manners, so he won’t be removed from his post. Turns out that Winter has a thing or two he can educate Lady Isabel about, too.
I only read my first Elizabeth Hoyt novel last week, and I was immediately drawn in to the Maiden Lane series (of which Thief of Shadows is the fourth book). Since I didn’t have books two and three on my Kindle when I finished book one, I immediately opened my ARC of Thief of Shadows and spent another day in Elizabeth Hoyt’s dark and dangerous St. Giles.
Thief of Shadows contains spoilers that would ruin the first three books of the series, since there’s a mystery that runs though them all, so I’ll be quite vague in what I reveal.
One of the many things I loved about Thief of Shadows is how the class difference between Lady Isabel and Winter Makepeace (son of a brewer, and with many Puritan tendencies) plays out. Winter knows there are more important things in life than ensuring your bow is low enough, but for the most part he doesn’t fault Isabel for the world she comes from. It’s not a world he’s interested in fitting into, and when he falls in love with her he wants her to join his own world.
There’s a blunt, almost brutal honesty between Winter and Isabel. Winter reveals early on that he’s a virgin, and sex to him is an act of love. Isabel has been married and has had lovers since becoming widowed. The inequality of their sexual experience, and their discussions on what sex means, are wonderful to read.
Plus, it’s hot. Is there anything better than a man who admits he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and who’s eager to learn? Like in this scene, when Winter touches Isabel intimately for the first time.
Men had touched her there before, but they’d never asked how. If they’d been skilled, she’d rejoiced; if they hadn’t, she’d directed them elsewhere. Male pride was such a delicate thing. Never had she thought to tell them how to touch her. Tell them what she liked best,
Finally he moved, a tentative poke.
She bit her lip. “Could you…stroke?”
She inhaled. “Softer.”
She laughed, but the sound was frustrated. He was too high, hadn’t quite found the right place. Perhaps she should–
“Isabel,” he suddenly breathed by her ear. “I have all night. Surely by dawn I can learn this. Please show me.”
And of course, he does learn. But only because Isabel has the guts to be plainspoken.
I devoured this novel and will definitely go back to read the two previous books, which I missed in my Hoyt-a-thon.