Thursday, March 3, 2011
CAN A WOUNDED BEAST . . .
Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he's kept suppressed for years begin to awaken.
TRUST A BEAUTY WITH A PAST . . .
Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won't let dust - or a beast of a man - scare her away.
Another winner, and probably my favorite of Hoyt's Legend of the Four Soldiers series. I loved this Beauty and the Beast themed romance that brought two lonely opposites together. One devastatingly beautiful women is fleeing a life of captivity from a man who thinks of her as his possession. The other is a man, horribly disfigured who has shut himself off from the rest of the world because he cannot bear to see children and grown people cringe and scream at the sight of him. It's not your typical boy meets girl story.
Helen Fitzwilliam is the former mistress of the political and powerful Duke of Lister. We fleetingly met her in the first book of this series, To Taste Temptation, as an oblique figure, shunned by the snobbish society at a weekend garden party. Standing apart from the rest of the women, no proper young lady would talk to her since she was a mistress - albeit, to a duke. Why would he bring her there in the first place? He is inconsiderate and vain. You pity her for it looks to be a lonely life, ostracized by polite society - what kind of woman would want that kind of life in the first place? Then in the second book of the series, To Seduce a Sinner, we meet her again, her name is Helen, and she becomes flesh and blood, no longer a distant figure to wonder about. She seems to be a good person with two children, an attentive and caring mother too - even normal, except for the fact that her children are bastards and no one nice will talk to her. By the end of the book, Helen has made up her mind to leave the Duke and run away.
Here in To Beguile a Beast, we pick up with Helen running off to the castle of Sir Alistair Munroe with the aid of Lady Vale (from To Seduce a Sinner). Munroe is a gruff and reclusive naturalist living in the wilds of Scotland where he can remain cut off from society. He bears the unsightly scars of torture by Indians while in the Colonies seven years earlier after being captured after the slaughter at Spinner's Falls. Alistair lost an eye and two fingers as well as having one side of his face gouged and burned. A once handsome man is now a beast, as he thinks of himself. Can the beautiful Helen tame him - or perhaps make him a man again in his own eyes?
As the series continues, we are still on the trail of finding out who was the traitor that betrayed the regiment that was ambushed and massacred seven years earlier near Quebec. The infamous battle known as Spinner's Falls is integral to the plotlines of each book in this series. Sir Alistair was not a soldier, but he was traveling with the Twenty-eight of Foot while doing research for his book on North American flora and fauna. Captured and disfigured he has resisted dredging up the memory of his experience at Spinner's Falls, but his old friend, Jasper Vale, has peeked his interest in revealing who the traitor was that gave their position away. Someone betrayed them to the French and their Indian allies - an officer within their own regiment.
Meanwhile, on the romance side of things, Helen has shown up at Sir Alistair's announcing that she is to be his housekeeper. His castle is a mess! Filthy dirty, it's going to take a huge job to get it cleaned up and Helen doesn't exactly have any experience. Helen has her two young children with her, a young boy of five and his sister who is nine. For once I really liked kids in a romance! They had their own little personalities and I felt and cared about them. They are all on the run, hiding from the Duke of Lister who is determined to find them. Not that he loves them, but they belong to him and he doesn't like the idea of losing something that is his. Basically, we hate the Duke. At first, I didn't think I was going to relate to Helen, I'm not the mistress loving type, but she is written so beautifully and sympathetically. Young and impressionable when she first met the Duke as a young girl, you understand her plight. I felt sorry for her and was rooting for her to get away from his grasp and start anew with her children. Yet, the Duke is powerful and has long arms that can reach far away...
As Alistair becomes more and more used to his new housekeeper and her rambunctious children he begins to thaw. Naturally, they are afraid of him at first, but they all warm up to each other in no time. I particularly liked the tenderness Alistair showed to his aging dog which involved a poignant scene in the story. As Helen and Alistair spar together, I adored reading of his evolution from recluse to passionate lover. He tries to ignore the attraction to Helen at first, but she feels it too. His disfigurement means nothing to her, she falls in love with the man. Helen was the perfect foil for him, he could not resist her and I loved how they came together. It was sensual and fulfilling, just what you'd want to have happen between them. Of course, that pesky Duke doesn't make things easy and I totally loved the way Alistair saves the day for her and her children. It was all very clever and well done with a little angst thrown in, but not too hard to take, although I was on the edge of my seat reading all the way up to the end of the book.
I couldn't ask for more in a romance, this book had everything! A good story, some hot sex, two charismatic and sympathetic leads and it kept my interest all the way up to the end. The fairy tale legend of the soldier is great as well and matches the main plotline of the story. I was surprised that this turned out to be my favorite of the series! Give it a try and read the entire series, it's so worthwhile and Elizabeth Hoyt is a definite favorite of mine now!
P.S. I randomly won this book and received my copy in an online drawing.