Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Reviews #77 & #78 – The Ice Princess & Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Elizabeth Hoyt is one of the big names in historical romance and her novel The Raven Prince is considered a classic of the genre. She tends to be a little earthy for my tastes, but I have read portions of several of her novels and I did indeed read all of The Ice Princess and Scandalous Desires.  I really liked the former, the latter was nothing special.

A novella, The Ice Princess features Coral, the madame of a brothel called The Grotto which is featured in other Hoyt works, and Isaac Wargate, a naval captain who spends time in the brothel not being serviced, but looking out for his men and watching out for Coral. In a common romance trope, Isaac wins exclusive access  to Coral for a period of seven nights in a card game. (My inner feminist cringes while typing such things, then I read another romance because being a feminist is about the right to make choices.) Coral has not been with clients in a long time, although she was not spared years as a prostitute, and Isaac wants desperately to get to the woman he glimpses underneath her literal and figurative mask. He is a patient man. Coral uses her experience and acumen to put him off, but he wins her over with kindness and patience, she rescues herself, and they sail off into the sunset together. It’s a lovely little novella not about the redemptive power of love exactly, but more the power of seeing one’s own freedom through another’s eyes.

Scandalous Desires is a standard up-from-the-gutter romance featuring a Pirate King because, yes, this is a genre in which a “Pirate King” is standard fare. Mickey O’Connor works ships on the Thames for his living and he has amassed a considerable fortune and a formidable reputation. Romance heroes who clawed their way up from nothing always do. About a year ago, Silence Hollingbrook (I don’t care what you say, that name is AWESOME) spent one night with Mickey because of something, something, her husband, something, widow. Mickey has a bastard daughter he wants Silence to take care of, first at the foundling home she helps run and then living at his Pirate King pad. Hijinks and romance ensue. Hijinks that weren’t very compelling to me, didn’t rise above what is common in the genre, and, this is important part, their relationship was uninteresting. It always comes back to that one detail. If the emotional lives and connection of the characters are sincere and well-portrayed, the book becomes engaging. Mickey and Silence’s weren’t and the book wasn’t.

The (Shameful) Tally 2013

This review is also posted on my tiny little blog.

8 thoughts on “Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Reviews #77 & #78 – The Ice Princess & Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

  1. Is there a good pirate king romance to be found? Because I would TOTALLY buy that (on my new kindle – cover art be damned!). So many of the historical romances happen in the crush of the ballroom while wallflowers tittle about how scandalously somebody is dancing the waltz. The pirate king angle creates the potential for adventure, swordfights, and at least presents a plausible excuse for the hero to be both tan and well-muscled (I don’t care how often he’s boxing at the club, these dudes would all be as pale as snow).

    Seriously I could use a good pirate king adventures, any recommendations?

    ps. Stayed up till 1AM last night reading Attachment and I absolutely adore Rainbow. A month ago I had never heard of this woman and now I have a serious author-crush on her. Her books are just delightful. (This will have to stand in as my cannonball review since I never actually write any).

  2. I’m sure in the 70s and 80s they were pretty thick on the ground. I”m sure they are still out there, but they are not my preferred subplot so I’m not sure.

    Have you bought Courtney Milan’s complete oeuvre yet?

    • Had to double-check my records, but yes, Scandalous Desires is one of the Elizabeth Hoyt novels I’ve read. Let’s face it, I found it forgettable enough that I had to check Goodreads if I’d read it in the first place. Hoyt’s novels keep being gushed about all over the romance blogs on the internet, and of the ones I’ve read, they do very little for me. By the way, all the publicity Maclean is doing at the moment made me realize that I haven’t read The Season, one of her first ones yet. Yay for backlists!

    • Have not read much of Milan yet but I know she’s on your favorite list. I’m in a tough spot – after reading Flowers in the Storm, Fangirl, and now Attachment, the next few (or 10) books are all doomed to pale in comparison!

  3. So 1) I’m super disappointed that something called “Scandalous Desires” doesn’t live up to the hype, and 2) how can it have failed with a name like Silence??? Sigh.
    I, too, am on the hunt for awesome pirate romance. I picked up one at a second hand store, but after the sort of veiled rape scene that was painted as a seduction, I just couldn’t.

    • I loved her name, it sounded like a traditional Puritan choice and that was what I was hoping for. Nope.
      Anything with a Pirate King is likely to be veiled rapey in my experience because they tend to be old school, i.e. cynical bastard hero, very young, terribly innocent heroine, and those kind of love scenes.

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