Genre: Historical romance
Publication Date: December 1st, 2020
Pages: 511, mass market paperback
The second novel in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt’s Greycourt Series features an enemies-to-lovers romance with her signature blend of captivating characters and sensual romance.
Ambitious, sly, and lethally intelligent, Gideon Hawthorne has spent his life clawing his way up from the gutter. For the last ten years, he’s acted as the Duke of Windemere’s fixer, performing the most dangerous tasks without question. Now Gideon’s ready to quit the duke’s service and work solely for himself. But Windermere wants Gideon to complete one last task, and his reward is impossible to resist: Messalina Greycourt’s hand in marriage.
Witty, vivacious Messalina Greycourt has her pick of suitors. When Windermere summons Messalina to inform his niece that she must marry Mr. Hawthorne, she is appalled. But she’s surprised when Gideon offers her a compromise: as long as she plays the complacent wife, he promises to leave her alone until she asks for his touch. Since Messalina is confident that she’ll never ask Gideon for anything, she readily agrees. However, the more time she spends with Gideon, the harder it is to stay away.
I think I may need to give up on this series. I’m not sure what changed between Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series and this one, but the quality went downhill hard.
I wasn’t able to put into words exactly what left me underwhelmed about When a Rogue Meets His Match until I read Kelly Bowen’s novella that’s included in the paperback. That novella is easily a five star read, and it’s made me interested in checking out Bowen’s other works.
What Bowen’s 100ish page novella had that Hoyt’s entire 300+ page novel lacked was a strong sense of character. Gideon is the only character who felt fully fleshed out. He had a full history that informed his character and choices and behavior in the present. In comparison, Messalina’s lack of on-page history was stark. We get mentions of the family members that have passed, and how Messalina and her siblings came to live with their uncle, but none of it informs Messalina’s character past her desire to keep her younger sister Lucretia from their uncle. At least, her past doesn’t inform her character to the extent Gideon’s past does.
Added to that, there was no chemistry between Messalina and Gideon whatsoever. I noticed that my interest in the novel shot up when Messalina shared a scene with her sister, because in comparison to her interactions with Gideon, Messalina and Lucretia’s scenes felt more organic and natural.
Also, the primary conflict that causes our couple to momentarily split wasn’t resolved well enough for my liking. Gideon lied to Messalina, and they never actually talk about that aspect of the problem.
I don’t know if Hoyt changed editors between the last Maiden Lane book and the Greycourt series, or if she’s simply attempting to write tropes she doesn’t have the ability to pull off believably. I think I’m done with this series unless I hear the third book improves significantly. I’m honestly sad about this, because Hoyt was one of my favorite romance authors, and one of the few whose sex scenes I read often to learn how to write my own. All good things must come to an end, I suppose.