05 February, 2013
Review: Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
Thief of Shadows is one of those books where all the characters are very strongly something until suddenly they are not. Winter Makepeace is a dedicated teacher with a serious Batman complex. He runs around in an ornate, colorful costume and leaps on rooftops to ferret out enslaved children. His rationale for the elaborate disguise (striking fear into men's hearts) was a bit of a yawn. Leaving his attire aside, the rest of Winter Makepeace had promise. Through his dedication to the children a true conflict existed for him and Isabel. Unfortunately it takes just one nonconsensual blowjob for Winter Makepeace to forget everything he holds dear. Isabel sucks the character right out of him. Suddenly he's gone from swearing his life has been promised to a higher purpose to abandoning everything he once stood for. No longer is the need of the many (the orphans) greater than the need of the one (himself and a favored orphan). No longer are his nightly raids on criminals the calling he cannot set aside. Winter packs his bags and arrives at Isabel's house with boots made for knocking.
Isabel is no better. She's a flighty hedonist who refuses to bond with the child sharing her home. She orders him away and complains to the servants when she sees signs of him in her home. She works on the charity board for the orphanage but never spends time there. Her goals are a life in society filled with distractions. After sexually assaulting Winter she suddenly craves children and stability. By the end of the book Isabel has packed down her mansion and set up house in the orphanage by Winter's side. She's busy making it a home. No mention is made of the probable social cost because now Isabel has a makeshift family and therefore has satisfied all her life's desires. If I were Makepeace, I'd be worried about a sexual predator in a house of young men but then if I were Makepeace I'd have shoved her off a balcony instead of chasing her down and professing my love.
Along the way there is a tedious Pygmalion subplot even the characters fail to take seriously. There are a few Bad Guys and Even Worse Guys and a bit of Conspiracy keeping time for us so Isabel and Winter can pretend anything matters but getting naked. The plot points are so disposable that one involving a young jewish orphan is completely cast side once Winter buys his knocking boots. Presumably the concerns he had about taking her into a Christian Home are swept away by the clarity of passion. Or something. There's also this dude that wants the orphanage for REASONS and is thwarted by an old lady with a pile of slingshots. I don't know why he wouldn't just beat the crap out of our orphans, but he throws his hands up like a modern couple whose live in nanny has walked off in a huff. How can he manage these dirty, dirty children?
Hoyt keeps being recommended to me by people whose opinion I generally agree with. This is my second or third attempt at her. I do appreciate her ability to create distinct characters but I think she lacks follow through. I have another Maiden Lane book cued up on the old TBR but I'll stop there. It hurts my eyes when I roll them.