Tuesday, May 26, 2009

To Beguile A Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt ****

This was somewhere between 4 and 5 stars. I enjoyed it but it's not a keeper for me. It's the 3rd in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series, and this time I just completely skipped over the fairy tale beginning to each chapter because that is starting to irritate me as a writing conceit.

In this one, the hero is the Beast - Sir Alistair, who lost an eye and some fingers to the Indians during an attack in the Colonies. He's a naturalist, writing a book on flora and fauna, and was just traveling with the British troops for security and safety - his own.

The heroine, Helen Carter, is the Beauty - but she's also a Beast in her own right, since she has been the mistress of the Duke of Lister for 14 years, with 2 children by him. She's been cast out from her family, and she feels she is in danger from the Duke, who is very possessive. She has run away from him, with her 2 children, to hide undercover as Alistair's housekeeper in Scotland.

Alistair is surly and rude and tries over and over to throw Helen and the children out of his house - especially since it's obvious to him she is quality and doesn't have a clue about housekeeping. Desperate as she is, she figures a good housekeeper just oversees the housekeeping staff, so she hires several people from the village to do the actual work.

Alistair is in with the 2 previous heroes of this series, trying to discover who the traitor was in their midst who told the French their location. However, not much time is spent in pursuit of the traitor in this story - mostly it centers around their relationship and Lister's pursuit of Helen.

The story is about 2 flawed characters coming to terms with the choices they've made in their lives and dealing with an unknown future. Alistair's slow conversion from Beast to Human is helped along by his compassion for animals, especially his dog Lady Grey and the new puppy, Puddles. He also develops a relationship with the children. Helen, while admirable as a mother, isn't exactly the most commendable heroine - it took her quite a long time to start to atone for her decision to be the Duke's mistress and bear him 2 bastard children.

It's also in the Serial Readers Challenge 2009, as well as notable pets.

No comments: