Elizabeth Hoyt – "The Raven Prince"

5 Apr

GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Warner Books, 2006

The back blurb:
“Widowed Anna Wren is having a wretched day. After an arrogant male on horseback nearly squashes her, she arrives home to learn that she is in dire financial straits.
The Earl of Swartingham is in a quandary. Having frightened off two secretaries, Edward de Raaf needs someone who can withstand his bad temper and boorish behavior.
When Anna becomes the earl’s secretary, it would seem that both their problems are solved. Then she discovers he plans to visit the most notorious brothel in London for his “manly” needs. Well! Anna sees red – and decides to assuage her “womanly” desires … with the earl as her unknowing lover.”

The Raven Prince is Elizabeth Hoyt’s first published novel. It’s a good one – I liked many things about it and had only few complaints.

First for the complaints.

I liked the first half better of this novel better than the last. Astonishingly, this has nothing to do with the heroine disguising herself as a prostitute to seduce the hero (disguise stories are not my favourite), but mostly with a blackmail plot taking shape then. I thought this superfluous and not well integrated in the story. Sure, it gave the heroine a chance to pull a “I’m-not-worthy” (from which she recovered fast, thank you) but overall it just was a distraction. Also, I thought the story entered “known waters” and the ending a bit rushed. The epilogue didn’t help there either with Anna “miraculously” being able to have children after all.

A small quibble with the disguise plot: Edward is fascinated by Anna’s mouth. In her disguise she wears a mask which leaves the mouth visible (making it more prominent IMO) and Edward doesn’t once notice this and wonders?

There are a few instances of convenient / obvious plotting. For example, Anna sees an interesting looking book in Edward’s library. She is discovered by a servant and doesn’t have the courage to look at it again in the following week. Then Edward returns and suddenly she has the courage again to look at the book. Huh? The owner of the book is now present and she now wants to look at it when she could be discovered by him instead of working on the manuscript which is her job? It’s really only a small thing, but it’s obvious this happened because Anna is supposed to be discovered by Edward. To let her have looked at the book before or to let her remember it suddenly would have worked better for me, I think. A more important example of too convenient plotting would be why Anna was able to go to London but I won’t go into detail as, really, these are just small “oh-please” moments.

Now on to the “like” things. As I said, I liked the first half better than the last, and that’s mostly due to the characters. Edward and Anna are real characters. It’s refreshing to read about people that don’t appear drop-dead gorgeous at first sight but gain in beauty by getting to know them (and love them). Here’s Anna’s view of Edward at their first meeting:

The dirty water beading on his pale, pockmarked face made him an awful sight. Black eyelashes clumped together lushly around obsidian eyes, but that hardly offset the large nose and chin and the thin, bloodless lips.

And here’s what Edward has to say about Anna:

The woman was plain. She had a long, thin nose, brown eyes, and brown hair – what he could see of it. Nothing about her was out of the ordinary. Except that mouth.

I also liked how small things were used to show that Anna and Edward were attracted to each other and I liked the subtle humour in the story. For example, there are some ongoing jokes about the naming of Edward’s dog or the question if he fell off his horse (Anna’s opinion) or if he was unseated (Edward’s opinion) at Anna’s and Edward’s first meeting. Overall, I really liked Hoyt’s voice and way to tell a story. She even made the disguise plot – why would Anna go to London? – work.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Maybe.

Grade: 4 / 5


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