Book Review

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

A-

Title: Wicked Intentions
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Publication Info: Grand Central Publishing August 2010
ISBN: 978-0446558945
Genre: Historical: European

Book Wicked Intentions - an illustration of a woman in a cloak running away looking over her shoulder on a lamp lit wet English street Oh my God, you guys. I think I’ve read my first crack book. The one that has some crazy going on and some plot elements I normally hate, but still I couldn’t put it down. The whole time I was reading Wicked Intentions my rational mind would have thoughts like “that’s a lot of subplots” or “the hero is really being an ass clown,” and then the emotional side of me would say “Shut up and turn the pages!”

This book was crazysauce all around, and somehow Elizabeth Hoyt pulls it off delightfully.

Temperance Dews is a widow who runs the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children with her brother, Winter. The home is just outside of the slum of St. Giles, where gin, prostitution and petty crime abound. Most of the unfortunate infants and foundling children come from St. Giles, so Temperance has a fairly good reputation among the quarter’s less savory elements—still it’s not a place to go out alone in after dark. When the book opens, Temperance has just brought a new infant to the home and is worried about the sick baby’s chances of survival. Because her day wasn’t bad enough, her brother tells her that they’re fast running out of money and will be evicted from the home soon if they can’t scrape together rent.

Temperance is feeling pretty awful about things and is up late, making herself some comforting tea, when she discovers an intruder in the house. Sitting in her arm chair in front of the fire is Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire.

There, sprawled in her chair like a conjured demon, sat Lord Caire. His silver hair spilled over the shoulders of his black cape, a cocked hat lay on one knee, and his right hand caressed the end of his long ebony walking stick. This close she realized his hair gave no lie to his age. The lines about his startlingly blue eyes were few, his mouth and jaw firm. He couldn’t be much older than five and thirty.


Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Because I’m thinking:

Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies long white hair condescending sneer metal topped cane

BAM. Lucius Malfoy. Throughout the book Lord Caire is routinely described as having long silver hair, a forbidding arrogant manner, and carrying a silver-tipped sword cane. I’m mean…c’mon! It’s Lucius Malfoy right?

Anyway, Lord Caire has a reputation for being debauched, for having dark, sexual appetites. It’s a bit of a surprise to find him in her sitting room, not at the brothel down the street. It turns out he needs a favor from Temperance. His mistress, a prostitute who lived in St. Giles, was brutally murdered. Lazarus is determined to solve the mystery of her death, but he needs someone trustworthy to guide him through the underbelly of St. Giles. In return, Lazarus will give the orphanage the money it needs to scrape by, and will introduce Temperance into his social circle so she can secure a patron for the house.

Just in case you’re still stuck on Lucius Malfoy + Dark Sexual Appetites, let me fill you in. Lazarus can’t stand to be touched. Due to all sorts of childhood trauma (no sexual abuse, FYI), having another person touch him causes him pain. He still likes the sexytimes though, so he engages prostitutes who are willing to be tied up and blindfolded or hooded during sex. Apparently, in 1737 this is like the naughtiest thing anyone could possibly do. Secondary characters in this book refer to Lazarus in hushed tones, tittering at his “unnatural appetites.” At first I was a little worried that I’d stumbled upon the first Historical Furry book ever or something, but no, it’s got some light bondage in it and that’s about it.

Despite the fact that Lazarus is generally a douche nozzle in the first two thirds of the book, Temperance finds herself very, very attracted to him. He makes her squirm in her buckle shoes. Temperance has some issues with sex—namely she wants it, and her late husband made her feel shitty about it. Because ladies shouldn’t want sex, that’s just craziness there. Ladies wanting oral sex or, you know, sex in broad daylight? Madness!

So Lazarus pushes all her buttons, good and bad, and generally torments her with his snarky, superior “I don’t care about the feelings/lives of others” attitude. He says unkind things about her dead husband. He pursues her sexually even though he knows she’s embarrassed by her lust. He is generally disparaging about the orphanage and the life she’s devoted to charity. Like I said, douche nozzle.

I couldn’t hate Lazarus though. While not exactly sympathetic, he was intriguing. I think it’s how much he owns being the anti-hero. He is tormented by his past, but it’s not in a broody, self-pitying way. He’s found a way to connect with others (sexually anyway), and rather than be ashamed of it when society starts whispering, he flaunts it. He is the big bad wolf.

Also he has a sword-cane, and that’s just bad ass.

As Lazarus and Temperance hunt for the killer in St. Giles, the sexual tension ramps up, and then another woman is found dead in the same manner, pointing to the work of a serial killer (although no one calls it that). Strangely, the whole Jack the Ripper-esque serial killer thing was pushed pretty far into the background, taking a back seat to the blooming sexual awakening of Temperance and emotional defrosting of Lazarus.

Lazarus and Temperance are attacked in St. Giles—he’s even stabbed—and they have good reason to believe the killer is hunting them, but we take a break from that for a couple of balls and some subplot action. It could be that I’m so used to reading romantic suspense that I expected the danger element to be front and center, but it surprised me when it wasn’t.

Aside from Temperance trying to withstand Lazarus’s seductions, and Lazarus trying not having a single fucking human emotion, there’s a lot going on in this book. So. Many. Subplots.

There is the aforementioned dying baby, Mary Hope.

There is Temperance’s sister, Silence. Silence is married to a captain whose cargo was stolen by a notorious and sexy river pirate, ruining him financially. Silence has to barter her virtue to the pirate to save her husband from being falsely accused of stealing the cargo himself and going to prison.

There is a vigilante known as the Ghost of St. Giles, roaming the slum at night, defending the defenseless, wearing a black mask and a harlequin’s motley.

There is Lazarus’s friend, St. John, who is suffering miserably as disease takes his wife.

And then there is Winter, who is clearly not a mild-mannered school teacher, as he comes home one night with a stab wound (like you do).

To be fair, this is set up for the other books in the Maiden Lane series.  I’m trying something new here—reading a series in the actual order it was written—and while normally I’d be overwhelmed by all the river-pirate-clown-batman-schoolmaster-fight-club nonsense, I actually found it to be an okay break from the intensity of Lazarus and Temperance’s budding relationship.

Because intense it is. Both the hero and heroine are really conflicted in this book. Temperance thinks she a bad, bad person. Lazarus knows he’s a bad, bad person, and he’s scared that Temperance makes him want to be a better one. And they both want to have lots and lots of sex with each other. This was easily the most sexually explicit historical I’ve read. At one point Lazarus takes Temperance to a brothel (they were following a clue, really!) and they spy on the patrons through secret peep holes (ostensibly to find the killer, really!) while Lazarus talks dirty to her and she has a little meltdown about her wanton urges. Hoyt doesn’t dress her sex scenes up in flowery descriptors either. She calls a penis a penis, and the omits terms like “bud” and “pearl” for clitoris. I personally prefer that to euphemisms and purple prose.

All of the sexytimes serve a purpose though, it isn’t gratuitous. Temperance realizes she’s not a monster or a whore for wanting sex. Lazarus discovers intercourse and intimacy are not synonymous. It’s a whole lotta sexual healing, my friends.

Also serial killer. And Ghost of St. Giles vigilante. And river pirate. And bondage.

If any or all of those things appeal to you, I’d really recommend this book. If you’re looking for a spicy historical, or one not focused around the glittering aristocracy, Wicked Intentions fits the bill. Aside from a few ball scenes, this book takes place among the working class of London.

Overall, Wicked Intentions really worked for me. It was different, a little bit crazy, quite sexy, and I will be stalking the UPS man for the next few days while I wait for the sequel to arrive in the mail.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Stella says:

    Love the review.  When I read this book I quickly became a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt and devoured her backlist within a two week period.  She’s got such a unique voice, and her descriptions are some of the best I’ve ever read.  I can still smell some of the sewer/river scenes.  This is one of my favorite series ever.  It’s stories like these that keep the historicals alive!  LOL!

  2. 2
    Miranda says:

    I’m stuck on Lucius Malfoy + Dark Sexual Appetites. Also, the brother is named Winter Dews? That sounds like a disease.

    Still, the book sounds pretty good.

  3. 3
    Lee says:

    This has to be one of the best reviews I’ve read in recent times.  It made me laugh and it made me go out and get my hands on this book.

  4. 4
    Amy says:

    Love love love this book, and the others in the series.  Re-read this one recently, and am anticipating eagerly the next in the series to arrive.

  5. 5
    Calico says:

    Yes! This book was my introduction to Elizabeth Hoyt and she quickly became my favorite romance author (next to Laura Kinsale). I love the fact that her very steamy and explicit sex scenes are not the least bit gratuitous. Each scene is important to both plot and character development.

    I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Maiden Lane series, but I also highly recommend both the Three Princes and Fours Soldiers series.

  6. 6
    Cat C says:

    I think I’ve bought everything Elizabeth Hoyt’s ever written—she’s in my top 3 authors (the OMG I ADORE YOU BECAUSE I ADORE YOUR BOOKS PLEASE WRITE MORE RIGHT NOW level). I’m glad you got into Wicked Intentions—you’ll be a little off-put because the second book in the series isn’t about any of the subplots you mention, but it’s amazing too—even if it’s got some (mild spoiler!) cheating in it, which I usually HATE, but Ms. Hoyt makes me love love love stories even when I don’t love the tropes.

    I guess it’s also a mild spoiler to say that a lot of the characters in the subplots will get their own books. Also we learn lots and lots more about the Ghost of St. Giles. You read this at a good time, too, since if you end up devouring all 5 books quickly, the next one’s coming out in the middle of October.

    I think you hit on most of the things I love about Elizabeth Hoyt—kind of crazy, really sexy—almost erotic sometimes—AND for good narrative and interpersonal reasons, and a little different. Plus: She often plays with tropes (I OMG LOVE Thief of Shadows because it takes rake and bluestocking tropes and REVERSES GENDER). And her characters aren’t all aristocracy and most of them are pretty average-looking and everyone has flaws and strengths that make them seem real. Also, she’s hilarious, especially when she has characters that are less serious than Temperance and Lazarus. Isabelle from Thief of Shadows (book 4), George from The Leopard Prince (I most highly recommend this one from the Princes series), and Jasper from to Seduce a Sinner (most highly recommended from the Legend of the Four Soldiers series) never fail to make me giggle incessantly. Griffin, the hero of the sequel you’re about to read, is good for that too, as well as angst.

    Apologies for all the caps lock, but I get really excited when someone else gets excited about my favorite authors. Basically, I’m happy you’re happy! Enjoy your next reads!

  7. 7
    LML says:

    Never mind the book.  I want to go to the Elyse School of Writing Book Reviews.  Okay, after I read this book.

  8. 8
    Chris Alexander says:

    Okay. You totally snagged me. I love historicals and quirky historicals are even better. :)

  9. 9
    Andrea D says:

    @Miranda
    LOL.  Re. the brother’s name, I had that same thought when I saw that.  But maybe since she’s a widow, Dews isn’t his name (though it’s still funny if Temperance has a brother named Winter and a husband named Dews).

    Great review!  I’m clicking and buying.  That Kobo code is wreaking havoc on my bank account.  Sooo much easier to impulse buy when the books are 50% off.

  10. 10
    laj says:

    Your review is terrific. The book…..not so much. I am not a fan of Hoyt to say the least. Silence’s book made me crazy…….thankful is was a MMPB so I could throw it at the wall and then into to bin.

  11. 11
    JacquiC says:

    I also love Elizabeth Hoyt, and she is one of the few historical writers that I still read.  I absolutely loved the Prince series and the Soldier series.  I read them one at a time and then take a big break in between so I don’t run out of them before she writes more.  Even though I’ve already read Wicked Intentions, your review makes me want to read it again…

  12. 12
    Wendy says:

    Haaahahaha. The Malfoy thing. I was doing it too. The whole time I was reading the book. (But I love Jason Isaacs. A lot. Especially in Lucius drag.)
    Elizabeth Hoyt is absolutely my crack, though. I blasted my way through the Maiden Lane series, then wondered what I’d done with the days.
    Great review!

  13. 13
    Swinka says:

    The entire series is fantastic. It’s dirty and ton London so mischievously blended with gin.

  14. 14

    This has always remained my favorite Elizabeth Hoyt. Caire is one of my favorite semi deviant lord and that scene in the brothel is epic. One of my favorite re-reads

  15. 15
    Hannah says:

    I love this series. The way the characters behave is so anachronistic but I love it nonetheless.

  16. 16
    Mary D. says:

    @Miranda
    The brother’s name is Winter Makepeace, which is a mouthful! All the siblings have sort of preachy sounding names.

    I started with the third book in the series and will have to go back and read the first two. All the books have been great.

  17. 17
    Dot Salvagin says:

    Fabulous review of a fabulous book.  I’m gonna hafta reread it again.

  18. 18
    Azucena Rodriguez says:

    @Cat C, it’s like I found my long lost twin… Everything you mentioned? *THIS* That’s how connected I felt, lol. Thief of Shadows, Leopard Prince, To Seduce a Sinner, my favs from each of Elizabeth Hoyt’s series. And not only do I devour every little scrap she throws (in a good way) our way between books, I like to stalk her.

    Awesome review. I’m glad you enjoyed the book, you won’t regret getting into the series and hopefully you’ll read the rest of her books :)

  19. 19

    Awesome awesome review. And “crazysauce”! I need to use that word.

    I shared more thoughts about this review on my blog at http://tumblr bentu.ceff.com.

  20. 20
    Stephanie says:

    I came into this series at book 3 and have since devoured anything by Elizabeth Hoyt, she is amazing and her sexytimes are just plain hawt.

  21. 21
    Laurie Evans says:

    Great review! This makes me want to read it, too!

  22. 22
    Melanie says:

    What a fantastic review.  “Wicked Intentions” was my first Elizabeth Hoyt.  I found it at the USB and thought, “Oh, 18th century, interesting,” and then I read it.  I remember I didn’t like the second book in the Maiden Lane series nearly as much, but now I need to catch up on the series.

  23. 23
    Rosa E. says:

    Ohh myyy. I think I need this book now.

  24. 24
    Kelly S. says:

    When I read this I did not connect Lucius Malfoy and Lord Claire.  I am very happy I read the book before your review because this thought will stick and eww.

  25. 25
    Cammy6 says:

    Happyhappyjoyjoy!  Hoyt is one of my favorite writers.  I’m always happy when someone else discovers how awesome her books are.  I’ve read all of them.  There were some that I liked less than others, but I’ve never read a bad book written by her.  I envy you the glomming that you are about to undertake.  As others have said, the princes trilogy and the 4 soldiers series are good too.

  26. 26
    marjorie says:

    FAAAAAAABULOUS review! I haven’t read this one (still on the waiting list at the library) but I adored Thief of Shadows (definitely played with romance-novel tropes about power in a witty way, and also it was HAWT) and loved Lord of Darkness (aka Godric and Megs); I was pretty meh on uhhhh the one with Winter’s Other Other Sister? and the Dread Pirate Mickey? (now I can’t decide if I want to start quoting The Princess Bride or singing “And it is it is a glorious thing to be a pirate king!”). I hate the names of these books, btw—they are UTTERLY unmemorable, very much unlike the stories they tell. I thought both the heroes and heroines in Thief of Shadows and Lord of Darkness were beautifully drawn (and all different from one another) and there’s humor and heat and terrific writing and the pacing’s great. I read a few of Hoyt’s ___ Prince books and To Alliterative Verb an Alliterative Noun books, and felt kinda meh. But I am a really tough room. Hoyt’s meh is a million cubits and a span better than most of her contemporaries.

  27. 27
    LaineyT says:

    I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Hoyt and thought I’d read all her books, but I was so excited to discover on her website that she has a couple contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper.  :D

  28. 28
    Mary says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t like Elizabeth Hoyt? Her writing just never clicked for me.

  29. 29
    Karin says:

    If you think this one was hot wait till you read about Silence and Mickey the River Pirate, who is also truly a BAD man, no joke. But “To Seduce a Sinner” is my all time favorite, for emotion and humor. Right from the start, when the hero does a wham bam thank you ma’am on the wedding night, and the heroine, who before that had been crushing on him for a long time, thinks to herself, ‘what a disappointment, but thank goodness she hadn’t been a virgin, or it might have been worse’. Oh yeah, Hoyt can subvert the tropes alright.

  30. 30
    Crystal F. says:

    I’ve been on an Elizabeth Hoyt kick this year, thanks to The Raven Prince. My second favorite of hers is To Beguile A Beast.

    After seeing the mixed reviews on Wicked Intentions on Goodreads, I decided to skip this novel and go straight to Notorious Pleasures. (I really liked the secondary characters, but didn’t feel a strong connection to Hero and Griffin until about the middle of the story.) I liked Silence’s character and storyline enough to go ahead and order Scandalous Desires, though I probably won’t get around to it until November.

    But after reading this, I may just have to work my way around back to the first book. :)

Comments are closed.

↑ Back to Top