Elizabeth Hoyt’s Lord of Darkness is the fifth book in her Maiden Lane series. For those not familiar with this particular series, Lord of Darkness can be read as a standalone if you don’t mind the back-story she fills in. Otherwise I recommend starting with the first book, Wicked Intentions.
Godric St. John still grieves for the loss of his wife Clara. He decides to live the rest of his life as a widower and devoted to her memory; however, that changes when Griffin Reading blackmails him into marrying his sister Margaret. Margaret reluctantly agrees to the marriage when she finds out her fiancé has been murdered and fears what her family might do when they find out she’s expecting a child. Knowing Margaret will never want a real marriage and his secret will be safe, he agrees to marry her. The two live separately: Margaret in his country estate and Godric in London.
Two years later, Margaret decides she wants a child and the only way to have one is to consummate her marriage. She surprises Godric by showing up at his London residence and explains she came to town for some shopping. When she confesses her real reason, he tells her he cannot betray Clara because consummating their marriage would be the ultimate betrayal. He doesn’t realize Margaret too grieves for her dead fiancé, Roger. When Margaret discovers Godric is the Ghost of St. Giles she confesses her reason for being in St. Giles: she’s looking for Roger’s killer. Godric takes the opportunity to explain how he came to be the Ghost and agrees to find the person responsible for Roger’s death. He also agrees to give her a child.
The majority of the plot centers on the lassie snatchers and we first come across them in Thief of Shadows. I was a bit disappointed Hoyt was going to focus on this again, but in hindsight it makes sense. For readers not familiar with them, they are a group responsible for buying or kidnapping young girls for the sole purpose of making lace stockings. These lace stockings were highly sought after by the wealthy and the girls were often beaten and underfed. In Lord of Darkness, we finally get to put a name to the man behind the operation and we also find out how Roger’s death is connected to the lassie snatchers.
The real story here is that of Godric and Margaret finding love. We have two people who loved deeply and are afraid to take that chance again. Hoyt does a remarkable job expressing their concerns. The moment Godric realizes he loves Margaret is bittersweet. She confesses how she can’t go on not knowing who murdered her beloved and yet at that moment, he’s willing to “walk the fires of hell” for her. There’s one particular scene where I thought Godric might fly off the deep end and that’s when he walks into his bedroom to find Margaret reading a letter she wrote to him. He realizes she was looking in his drawer and he could have easily given her the cold shoulder and thrown her out of his room, but instead he was honest and open with her.
There are few unanswered questions. Godric tells Megs that Sir Stanley Gilpin trained him and two others. If Sir Stanley found it a lark to dress up as the Ghost who’s to say he didn’t train other men before Godric? And if Sir Stanely only trained three men, why did Captain Trevillion knowing Godric was the Ghost, let him go when he had the perfect opportunity to arrest him? Was it because Godric was saving children from the lassie snatchers or is there much more to this? I’m curious about Trevillion since he’s been featured before and I’m hoping Hoyt gives him his own book.
Hoyt often includes a story within a story. All these of course take place in the chapter headings. Our treat this time is the Legend of the Hellequin and what a story it was! Every time she includes one of these in her books, it makes me wish she would publish them in their entirety.
My favorite scene in Lord of Darkness involves Godric, his sister, and Margaret’s Great-Aunt Elvina discussing babies. Elvina believes they are troublesome especially those that bother her dog. Godric suggests they should be hung:
“I cannot believe you would suggest tying a child to the wall.”
“Oh, no, ma’am,” Godric said as he poured himself more wine. “You have me entirely wrong.”
“Well, that’s a relief—”
“I meant the child should hang on the wall.” He looked kindly at the elderly woman. “Like a picture, as it were.”
Elizabeth Hoyt once again delivers and Lord of Darkness doesn’t disappoint. We’re given a preview of Duke of Midnight, the sixth book in the series. It will feature the Duke of Wakefield and Artemis Greaves and I have a feeling we have our third Ghost in Wakefield. It’s scheduled for an October release and October can’t come soon enough.