Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Category: Romance
Series: Yes, but stands on its own

When the devil meets an angel
Country bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man – a naked unconscious man – and loses her innocence forever.

He can take her to heaven
Viscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he’s hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities – even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.

Or to hell.
Charmed by Simon’s sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has – her love…

When I first read of Simon Iddesleigh in The Raven Prince, I knew I would read his story when it is finally told. He was such an unassuming character, that one just knew there was more to him than met the eye. I’m happy to report that the author didn’t disappoint with Simon.

Chapters 1 to 6 of this book are a hoot to read. Lucy rescued Simon from the ditch, ignored her father’s harrumphs and dire warnings, installed him in a guest bedroom and nursed him back to health. These chapters concentrate on character building and human interaction, so there isn’t much action to be had. However, what it lacks in action, it more than makes up in humour … oh my … I was smiling with every page. Everybody is so witty, from Simon to Lucy’s belligerent manservant Hedge. I particularly enjoyed Simon’s play on words with Lucy’s father Captain Craddock-Hayes.

“Iddesleigh. Iddesleigh.” Papa frowned as he chewed his gammon steak, his chin jerking up and down. “Knew an Iddesleigh in the navy when I sailed The Islander five and twenty years ago. Midshipman. Used to get terribly seasick right out of port. Always hanging over the middeck rail looking green and heaving up his accounts. Any relation?”

“No, I don’t believe so,” Lord Iddesleigh answered her father’s question as he helped himself to more boiled potatoes. “As a rule, the members of my family avoid anything resembling work. Much too taxing, and it has an unfortunate tendency to lead to sweat. We much prefer to idle our days away eating cream cakes and discussing the latest gossip.”

“Old landed gentry, are they?” Papa sawed vigorously at his meat while he spoke. “Let others toil on their land, eh? Spend all their time in the sinful fleshpots of London instead?”

“Why, yes, I quite like a fleshpot now and then,” Lord Iddesleigh said, smiling benignly. “That is, when I can find the energy to get myself out of bed. Have since I was but a tiny lad in leading strings accompanied by my nurse.”

“Although,” the viscount continued, “I must confess I’m a bit hazy on what exactly constitutes a fleshpot.”

“I mean, flesh and pot, how did the two come together?” Lord Iddesleigh mused. “I trust we are not discussing chamber pots –”

“Ha. From the Bible, fleshpot is.” Papa leaned forward, apparently having scored a point. “Exodus. Have read the Bible, haven’t you?”

“Not recently, I confess.” The viscount’s icy silver eyes sparkled innocently. “Too busy idling my life away, don’t you know. And fleshpot means…?”

“Harrumph. Fleshpot.” Papa waved his fork, nearly spearing Mrs. Brodie as she brought in more potatoes. “Everyone knows what fleshpot means. Means fleshpot.”

Simon is a wonderful character. Outwardly, he is ostentatious, charming and indolent, complete with a self-deprecating, nonsensical wit. The true essence of the man, though, is dark yet honourable, steadfast and composed. He is a man who is unswerving in his pursuit of vengeance. He also gets his hands into the soil and grows gorgeous roses and plants, and this makes him so very sexy to me. *grin*

Lucy is the typically kind, honest and upstanding gentle-bred country miss, who also possesses a wicked sense of humour. Before Simon appeared in her life, it was predictable and safe, and she was contented. After Simon, her secured life isn’t enough anymore, for she now wants him. But this intelligent miss knows that she will not be enough for a London sophisticate like Simon, so she has to let him go. I felt that Lucy was a little too one-dimensional to be a truly memorable character. Having said that, she holds her own against Simon, so that makes her acceptable.

Simon and Lucy’s relationship is a natural progression and their love for each other is believable. Their love scenes are ardent, yet I felt a tinge of humour in one or two of them.

I was happy that Edward de Raaf (The Raven Prince) made a prolonged appearance here. I really enjoyed his deep friendship and repartee with Simon.

This was a well-written and highly entertaining read. Yet, I felt there was something missing – and I couldn’t pinpoint what – that rendered it short of a 5-star read for me.

4.5 out of 5. I really like it. It's fantastic, a keeper. Sensuality rating: Hot


Kristie (J) said...

I really enjoyed the whole series, but my favourite of all was this one. It was wonderful finding this new author. I don't read that many historicals anymore - and it's getting less all the time as some of my favourite authors are writing books I'm just not enjoying as much anymore. Liz Carlye and Gaelen Foley come to mind. It's easy to give up hope in the genre. But then authors like Elizabeth Hoyt, Jo Goodman, Lisa Kleypas and now Joanna Bourne keep me encouraged

Jace said...

Hi Kristie,

So glad you're back online. *grin*

Yes, Hoyt is a wonderful new author - I hope she will continue to entertain us in years to come. I wonder what's up after Serpent Prince?

I used to like Lisa Kleypas, and I've read almost all her historicals. But I stopped reading her after the Wallflower series. I don't know - I just couldn't "feel" her anymore.

My favourite historical authors are still Loretta Chase and Judith Ivory - I will read anything they write!

Lydia Joyce is a pretty good newcomer too. Her stories are mostly intense and hot!

I discovered Shana Abe last year, and I am slowly buying up her backlist. I like the way she writes.

Joanna Bourne's Spymaster's Lady is getting fantastic ratings everywhere I looked! I'm sure I'll be buying it some time soon. *grin*