Desert Isle Keeper
The Leopard Prince
Last year Elizabeth Hoyt made a splash with her debut novel The Raven Prince. It earned DIK status here at AAR and gained more than one honor on our 11th Annual Reader Poll. The Leopard Prince is her second offering, loosely tied to The Raven Prince, but in no way a sequel. Sophomore books are tricky, especially when the first makes a big impression. Lots of tricky little traps, lots of hidden pitfalls, lots and lots of big expectations, and a long, long way to fall.
Elizabeth Hoyt soars.
To get those pesky details out of the way: this is a servant/aristocrat story. The heroine, Georgina, is wealthy, a landowner in her own right, and a lady. The hero, Harry, is a land steward hired to run her estate. I know, I know, unlikely, improbable, almost downright impossible for an HEA in circumstances like these. And while the circumstances are addressed in the book, probably for those history sticklers out there, it’s not going to be enough. Me, on the other hand, I’m going to shout from the mountain tops: “Who the heck cares?!?!”
Lady George Maitland inherited estates and a sizable fortune from a forward thinking aunt. As such, she’s never had the need for a husband, nor has she ever really had to play by society’s rules. But lusting after her land steward, Harry Pye, is too far across the line, even for her. Problem is, he’s kind of irresistible. And Lady George has never played by the rules.
Harry’s got his own problems. He’s had his share of run-ins with the aristocracy and never been particularly impressed with any of them. And he’s most certainly not going to be the lapdog play thing of an independent Lady with no concept of the consequences. But she’s not taking no for an answer, and damned if he’s strong enough to deny her.
Everything that made The Raven Prince so explosive is present in The Leopard Prince. The hero is strong and sexy, the sex is hot and very sensual, and mythology is intertwined skilfully, both as metaphor and plot device. But where Raven is dark and angst-ridden, Leopard is infused with humour. The character interactions between bold, uninhibited George and reticent, cool Harry are fantastic. This is not to suggest that the forbidden love angle is not dealt with seriously – it is – but the way the characters react to each other is witty and sexy.
This includes secondary characters. The bulk of Leopard takes place outside of London, so there are farmers and families and servants. George has a big, over-protective family, and there are villagers and a couple of extra noblemen thrown in to really keep things interesting.
As I mentioned above, the historically-minded may have some trouble with the plot line. There may also be those who struggle with the relationship catalyst. But at the end of the day, the story is strong and sexy and sensual and captivating. With historical romances, sometimes there has to be a decision made between history and romance. Elizabeth Hoyt chose romance, and I, for one, applaud the decision. Heck, forget applaud. I’m jumping up and down with pom-poms.