Darling Beast (Maiden Lane) – book review

Darling Beast
By Elizabeth Hoyt
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Book #7 in the Maiden Lane series
Number of Pages: 337
Historical Romance
Ages 15 and up
CW: domestic violence/abuse,
ableism, violence
Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown’s soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he’s quickly driven to distraction . . .

London’s premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she’s forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren’t the only inhabitants-a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there’s more to this man than meets the eye.

Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he’s forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who reads this series who has loved Apollo from the he was introduced. His is a tragic and complicated past. I believe this story can be read as a standalone, but to really understand the horrors Apollo has suffered it’s best to go back and at least read Duke of Midnight.

Lily has been mentioned in many of the past stories, but she hasn’t been introduced until this book. Lily is an actress and quite famous in London. After the theater she was contracted with burned down, she was unable to find work because of a perceived snub of another theater owner and Harte (aka one of the Makepeace brothers!) is allowing her, along with her son and nurse/companion, to stay in the husk of what was once his magnificent theater and pleasure garden. It’s not a known thing that Harte is Asa Makepeace or that his partner and the brilliant mute gardener happens to be none other than the fugitive Apollo Greaves.

The beginning of this tale is rather sweet. Lily’s son, Indio, at first thinks Apollo is a monster in the gardens. He soon is fascinated with the rather large gardener and spies on the man whenever he has the chance. Lily thinks her son has a vivid imagination until she finally sees this monster for herself. Apollo does nothing to sway her opinion that he is a simpleton since he cannot talk, yet with his sharp mind and kind heart she soon realizes there is much more to Apollo (at this time known as Caliban to Lily and her family) than he is letting on. Watching these two fall for each other despite the secrets they must keep and the barriers between them was spectacular. The interactions between Apollo and Indio are also quite heartwarming.

Once Apollo starts to regain his voice, he truly says the sweetest things to Lily. Not because he’s trying to charm her or win her over, but because he speaks from the heart and his heart is a beautiful thing. He doesn’t pull his punches or hold anything back when expressing his feeling to Lily. He knows his mind, he knows his heart, and he doesn’t see any reason to keep those things to himself.

The last few chapters seemed a bit rushed to me. There was the mystery of who committed the murders of which Apollo was accused. It seemed once Lily and Apollo resolved in finding their HEA the author had to still resolve the murders and it was a bit slapdash. Not that it doesn’t make sense, because the logic plays out. The pacing of that aspect of this story just seemed off compared to the rest of the book.

I enjoyed that some strange bedfellows banded together to help Apollo. There is a new Duke in town whom I wasn’t crazy about through much of this story, but the more I got to know him the more I am curious about him. His reaction to Hippolyta Royle, who has been a mystery so far in this series herself, was a brilliant introduction to a possible love match.

Finally, next, the lovely Phoebe will get her HEA. She is one of my favorites with her determination, sass, and vulnerability.

4.5 stars

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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