Desert Isle Keeper
Duke of Midnight
This book is the sixth in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series and in my opinion the strongest to date in this 18th-century storyline. Of course, I must confess I have not read Winter’s story yet, and if that novel is better than Duke of Midnight then it would deserve a solid A because it was very hard to find any fault with Hoyt’s latest book.
Artemis Greaves serves as a lady’s companion to her distant cousin Lady Penelope Chadwicke. Penelope is beautiful beyond measure and one of the richest heiresses on the market. While not exactly the epitome of kindness, she is not your typical shrewish society diamond either. She is, however, headstrong, silly and oblivious. The book opens up with Penelope dragging Artemis on a lark to St. Giles to collect on a wager she made with a gentleman of the ton. They are accosted on the cobblestone streets by robbers and then saved from harm by the Ghost of St. Giles. As the Ghost helps Artemis to her feet, a ring slips off of his hand – a ring belonging to an aristocrat.
Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield is a tortured and driven man. Twenty years before, he watched from his hiding place in St. Giles as his parents were murdered. Driven by guilt and vengeance, he adopts the persona of the Ghost of St. Giles to search for his parents’ murderer. Guilt also drives his need to maintain the standards of the dukedom in remembrance of his father. Max has a difficult time separating his role of duke from his humanity as a mere man. Since Penelope Chadwicke is beautiful, rich and has impeccable antecedents, she is Max’s choice for his potential duchess. His pursuit of Penelope also throws him into the path of her companion Artemis Greaves. It does not take Artemis long to discover that the owner of the ring she took from the Ghost of St. Giles is the one and only Duke of Wakefield.
Artemis is not a greedy or bad person, but she is a desperate one. Her twin brother Apollo (the Viscount of Kilbourne) was wrongfully charged with the murder of three men several years before this story begins. Instead of the hangman’s noose Lady Penelope’s father, the Earl of Brightmore, used his influence to have Apollo committed to Bedlam instead. Apollo is slowly dying in the lunatic asylum and Artemis is determined to get him out. Her knowledge of the identity of the Ghost of St. Giles is the opportunity she has been waiting for and despite her attraction to the Duke she is determined to get him to assist Apollo. Max is just as determined not to be blackmailed into action.
While the relationship between Wakefield and the previously invisible Artemis begins rather mundanely, it does not take long for the sparks to fly. Max is intrigued by Artemis and that intrigue leads to attraction. Artemis is also attracted, but she refuses to let that attraction get in the way of rescuing her brother. A friendship grows in these unlikely environs. Artemis comes to see the “ghosts” that haunt Max and Max even through his anger can see the strength and determination of his “Diana.” This brings me to one of the few criticisms I have of this book (and some readers may disagree with this). Max’s use of “Diana” as a nickname for Artemis was slightly gratuitous and possibly even cheesy. But that is really all I could come up with in terms of a critique for this book. I LOVED it. I loved Artemis. I loved Max and I loved their story. I have enjoyed every Elizabeth Hoyt book I have read (and I have read most of them). While The Raven Prince remains my all-time favorite, this book is a very close second.