Thief of Shadows

Elizabeth Hoyt
Thief of Shadows
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Publisher
Forever
Release Date
June 2012
ISBN
9781455508327
Genre
Historical Romance

SUMMARY
A MASKED MAN . . .

Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles-protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.

A DANGEROUS WOMAN . . .

Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society-flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons-Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar-and his lips so tempting.

A PASSION NEITHER COULD DENY

During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything-the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jul 02, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
155 people found the following review helpful
After three books and countless hours of waiting, the Ghost of St. Giles is at last revealed, and lives up to every expectation I ever held of him. This latest installment of the Maiden Lane series features all the passion and suspense of Elizabeth Hoyt's best work, along with an unforgettable leading man who rightfully earns the title of ‘hero'.

Lady Isabel Beckinhall's life has lately become rather narrow. Her days revolve around social engagements, her work on the board of the Ladies' Syndicate for the Benefit of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children in St. Giles, and her enormous, empty townhouse, left to her upon her husband's death. Everything changes when she decides to help the elusive Ghost of St. Giles, who has been attacked by a mob after rescuing a man from the hangman's noose. She agrees to leave his mask in place to protect his identity, yet Isabel cannot help but feel a connection to the valiant, charming Ghost. However, the next morning, the Ghost is gone, and Isabel finds herself responsible for helping a very different kind of man.

Though beloved by the Home's children and a skilled manager, Winter Makepeace is the opposite of the Ghost of St. Giles—dour, reserved, and very, very serious. Now that the Ladies' Syndicate has been formed, there are those members who believe that the Home would be far better served by a manager who can charm his way into the homes of the rich and mighty and make a name for the Home in society. So Isabel agrees to take him in hand and show him how to flirt and dance and act frivolously—just as she has been doing for years. In doing so, she begins to see a different side to Winter's personality, a perceptive, shrewd and far deeper character than she ever imagined. As more than that, she can't help but think how familiar he looks and sounds…

The truth is that Winter Makepeace and the Ghost of St. Giles are one and the same man, fighting every single day to protect children from the horrors of life in St Giles. His entire life, his mind and his body, have been dedicated to his work—until Isabel comes along and makes him dream of more. As their lessons bring them into closer, more intimate contact, and his need for her grows unbearable, keeping the two halves of his life separate grows nearly impossible. But when a member of the aristocracy begins kidnapping little girls in St. Giles, Winter has no choice but to give everything he has to finding the culprit—even if it means losing the one woman who has ever claimed his heart.

Winter Makepeace lives up to everything I've ever imagined the Ghost of St. Giles to be. His cause is one of absolute compassion, and he acts without thought of reward or acknowledgement. Because of that dedication, his reserves around Isabel, his fear of letting her too close—or of getting too close to her—is heart-wrenchingly understandable. His conflicts between his calling and his desires was beautifully explained, and I felt enormously for him as he came to understand the real meaning of love and sacrifice. It gave his relationship with Isabel and their ‘lessons' far more meaning and made their scenes together compelling reading.

It took me a little longer to feel as close to Isabel, but as her defenses came down, it became clear that she was just the right woman to bring out all the hidden aspects of Winter's character. She has lived an achingly lonely existence, hiding behind the masks that society demands, and faced with constant reminders of her ambivalent marriage. Just as her love gives Winter the chance to live a full life, when she finally had the courage to trust in his love, she blossomed. I also appreciated the fact that she had the power and the self-confidence to become Winter's teacher in so many matters of the heart.

While Isabel and Winter were sizzling together and a very sympathetic couple, the thrilling tension that grew between them in the early scenes wasn't sustained as well as I had hoped in the later scenes of the book. I think, for me, this was because it took me longer to understand Isabel as well as I did Winter, but it didn't distract too much from my reading pleasure. Also, there were a few jumps in time that were a little jarring. I love these stories and these characters so much that to lose three days here or a week there feels far more significant here than it would in some other books. These are, it should be said, some very minor criticisms compared to the amount of good things I could discuss, such as Winter's incredibly deep passions and psychological complexity, Isabel's growing faith in herself and her determination to be worthy of her hero's love, and the journey they both undergo for each other's happiness.

This might not be my favorite of the Maiden Lane series, but nonetheless, I was riveted to each page and enchanted by Winter's romance with Isabel. A few deft plot twists left me eager for more, and the promise of further adventures with the Ghost of St. Giles means that this series will be at the top of my reading list when the next installment is released in February of 2013!
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Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
Dec 08, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
141 people found the following review helpful
Elizabeth Hoyt has outdone herself! THIEF OF SHADOWS is my favorite Maiden Lane series book thus far, due in no small part to Winter Makepeace, who is everything a hero should be.

Lady Isabel Beckinhall was tasked with teaching Winter Makepeace, the manager of the orphanage, with manners as befitting his position as he would need to socialize with the aristocracy sometimes, now that the orphanage have patronesses from the aristocrat. As they get closer each day due to the lessons, she couldn't help but think he look and sound familiar...maybe the Ghost of St. Giles whom she once rescued?

I have to commend Elizabeth Hoyt for the daring role reversal in her characters, as it makes for a refreshing and interesting read. Here we have Lady Isabel Beckinall, a widow who's also taken lovers after her husband's death, and Winter Makepeace, inexperienced in the arts of the bedroom. As in, zero experience. The intimate scenes were sizzling and fascinating, though Winter is able to turn the tables on Isabel some of the times.

Lady Isabel Beckinhall is the heroine of this piece, and though she is a bit aloof and cold in the first few chapters of the book, she does grow on me after awhile, especially when her real self emerges from the facade she presents to the world. I thought her interactions with Christopher, uncertain and awkward as they were, gave us an intriguing first peek into the woman that she really is. Only Winter is able to see through her to the person she is hiding behind the mask, and we see here a wonderful parallelism where just as Winter hides behind a literal mask as the Ghost to protect the innocents of St. Giles, so do Isabel hide behind a mask as well--to protect herself.

Though Isabel is a wonderful heroine--smart and sympathetic--I have to say she is greatly overshadowed by the larger-than-life hero, Winter Makepeace, aka the Ghost of St. Giles.

I didn't think much of Winter in the first three books. My impression of him is this beleaguered manager of the orphanage in St. Giles, weighed down by lack of funds and the orphans he has to take care of. Sure, he's Temperance and Silence's brother, and he's a good brother because he cares for them. But truly, you don't know him until you've read this book. Then you'll see that he has a heart as big as an ocean (maybe bigger). The problems of St. Giles should not be his to carry, yet he takes them on his shoulders, because "If not I, then who?" I do believe that is a very powerful question. Too often, we think that if only this person would do this, the world will be so much better. But why pin your hopes on another person? Why not say, "If only I would do this..."

Does this make Winter a martyr? I don't think so. He's just a man trying to do the best he can with his limited resources and hoping to make a difference in a person's (several children's, in fact) life. He is highly principled, focused, selfless, and he works hard, even at the risk of his life, to make the world a better place for unfortunate children. Add to which he's virile and sexy (yum!). He's the consummate hero in every sense of the word, and he may be the only hero in historical romances that I've read about so far to deserve the label "hero". He's not had any romantic entanglements thus far, as he's dedicated body and soul to the welfare of the children of St. Giles, but Isabel makes him yearn for something more. He doesn't take physical union lightly, as for him, it's a representation of the love that he feels inside for the woman. Could this man be any more romantic?

Unbelievable? Maybe. Does this man even exist? I do hope so, for all our sake. Nevertheless, I'm so glad I'm allowed my fantasy, and I prefer to believe that a man like Winter Makepeace exists, even if only in books. He gives me...hope.

I can go on and on about Winter, but I'm afraid there wouldn't be enough space. So, let's go on to the other aspects of my review.

Interspersed with Winter and Isabel's budding romance is the mystery of the missing orphaned girls, who are being forced to become child labor. That Winter should agree to step into the ton's ballrooms is for this purpose, to discover leads by which he could rescue the girls, whose kidnapping was being masterminded by an aristocrat.

For me, the pacing of the story was just right, the author employing the right mix of romance and suspense to capture readers' attention. The clever dialogue and intriguing cast of secondary characters round up the story to make this an unforgettable read. We are also presented with a little teaser into the next Ghost, and I have to admit I've been waiting for his story since the first book!

Maiden Lane series fanatics shouldn't miss this story. Readers new to the series can start with this book as well, but I do believe that in order to appreciate Winter more, it is best to read the other books first.
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