Saturday, February 11, 2012

Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Book Description: 
Can a pirate learn that the only true treasure lies within a woman’s heart?

“Charming” Mickey O’Connor is the most ruthless river pirate in London. Devastatingly handsome and fearsomely intelligent, he clawed his way up through London’s criminal underworld. Mickey has no use for tender emotions like compassion and love, and he sees people as pawns to be manipulated. Yet he’s never been able to forget the naive captain’s wife who came to him a year ago for help—and spent one memorable night in his bed...talking.

Widowed Silence Hollingbrook is impoverished, lovely, and kind - and a year ago she made a horrible mistake. She went to a river pirate for help in saving her husband and in the process made a bargain that cost her her marriage. That night wounded her so terribly that she hides in the foundling home she helps run with her brother. Except now that same river pirate is back...and he’s asking for her help.
When reading the first of the Maiden Lane series, Wicked Intentions, I was intrigued by the side story involving Temperance's sister, Silence.  I felt terribly sorry for Silence and what happened due to her involvement with Mickey O'Connor, pirate and raider of the Thames.  At the same time, I thought she was incredibly naive for going to him for help in the first place.  The whole thing backfires on her when Silence approaches Mickey, without her husband's knowledge, and requests he return the cargo he stole from the ship her husband works on.  Her husband is going to lose his job unless the goods can be recovered.  O'Connor, notorious for his ruthlessness and lack or morals, agrees to return them - for a price.  Silence must spend the night with O'Connor in his bedroom.  Even though he never touches her, he sends her home in a disheveled state and forces her to walk up the middle of the street in shame as if she had been his whore for the night.  Essentially, he was ruining her reputation in exchange for saving her husband's job.  Of course, no one will believe nothing happened between them!  Including her husband.  Things are never the same between Silence and her husband again and when he goes off to sea for the last time, his ship sinks and he dies with it.

It's now a year later and Silence has gone to work at her sister's foundling home with her brother, Winter.  She has become close to one of the baby's, Mary Darling, who we learn, at the end of book two in the series, is the illegitimate daughter to none other than - Mickey O'Connor!  The spitting image!  Mary Darling had been left on the home's doorstep and Silence has basically become her surrogate mother.  One day Mary disappears and Silence is bereft until she learns that O'Connor has taken her to his "palace" of ill gotten gains.  Silence wastes no time in going there to retrieve Mary - returning to the scene of her shameful walk home.  Only, this time, Mickey makes her an offer she can't refuse.  Because his enemies have gotten wind that he has a daughter, he has taken Mary back to his palace to keep her safe.  He wants Silence to move into the palace as well, to take care of Mary, since all the baby does is cry all day long for her "mother." Silence agrees, she loves Mary and can't bear the thought of leaving her there.

Once Silence moves in, she gets to know Mickey better and gradually she falls in love with this man of danger.  When the palace is attacked and Mary is nearly killed, Silence's family comes to reclaim her, featuring a scene with *swoon*  Lord Caire from Wicked Intentions.  But, Mickey can't live without Silence and comes to get her back and she willingly goes with him.  Yet, he still cannot make a commitment to her for she will become a target for his enemies.  He takes her to his "safe house" away from London.  There she learns of his "other life" as a respectable shipbuilder, a successful man living his life as an innocuous Englishman with a house in the country.  This side of Mickey is "Michael Rivers" and Silence begins to envision herself by his side forever.  It is here that they begin their love affair, but Mickey must still take care of unfinished business regarding his father, The Vicar, who is his archenemy and rival in London.  His father is ruthless (and a little mad) and will not hesitate to use Silence and Mary as bait to lure Mickey into a trap and get rid of him once and for all.

Despite my already knowing the previous background on these two from the previous books in the series, it took me a long time to get into the story of Silence and charmin' Mickey O'Connor. I had a hard time warming up to Mickey.   This is not unexpected because he did such a despicable thing to Silence by ruining her marriage - just for the fun of it.  I just could not forgive him for it.  Mickey had to really change for me to come around to him.  As expected, as Silence began to trust him and change her opinion of him, so did I, but I still never really liked him very much.  Plus, it didn't help that I kept imagining Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean as Mickey (not a good thing).   Nothing against him, but he's not my idea of hero material physically.

I viewed it as another tortured hero story in which the hero has a horrible childhood and becomes a criminal to survive on the streets, working his way up to becoming the most feared pirate lord in London.  His lousy childhood and evil father is supposed to justify all the awful things Mickey does as an adult? Until he finds the woman who changes him and makes him a better person?  I'm not very fond of this scenario in romances and have a hard time buying it.  But eventually, I began to appreciate Mickey a little bit more when he became "Michael" in Silence's mind and no longer Mickey.  Once we find out who his father is and what happened and how he cares for Silence and Mary I thawed a little, but it was still hard for me to justify his piracy and what he did to Silence in the first book.

Normally, I love Hoyt's books, but this one just didn't thrill me.  Still, the writing itself is fine as is the period, costumes, setting, etc.  I just have a hard time with this kind of storyline and I wasn't overly fond of the hero - a deal breaker for me.  Silence was just sort of blah, she goes along with whatever everyone tells her to do. Often, she sets out with her own objectives but then caves in pretty easily to whatever someone else wants, whether it's marrying her first husband, even though he's much older than she is, then going to work at the home with her brother, then living with Mickey, then wearing the dress he gets her and going to the opera, then going back with her family to her sister's after the attack, then running off with Mickey without telling anyone where she is and going to his country house - come on! The chemistry was good between the hero and heroine, but I found it took a long, long time for the two of them to finally go to bed together.  Of course their one night out together before that turns into a disaster!

One question: why is everyone so worried about raising money for the home?  Winter and Silence's sister Temperance has married the wealthy Lord Caire - can't he donate a ton of money, if need be?  Temperance used to run the home, I'd think that would no longer be an issue.  This leads into the home's patrons and some new faces in the series and side story involving Silence's brother, Winter. It has potential, though I'm surprised at who Hoyt is setting him up with (or so it seems).  Somewhat unorthodox, an older widow in her early 50's?  I wonder how Hoyt will pull this off, but the cliffhanger ending has me looking forward to the next book!


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