The Raven Prince
By: Elizabeth Hoyt
Published date: April 1, 2012
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
How hot is it: 4 out of 5
Hero: Edward de Raaf, the Earl of Swartingham
Heroine: Anna Wren
Oh, this book. This book, this book, this book! Reading this book was like breaking open a silky dark chocolate bar and letting each piece melt in your mouth until only the empty wrapper remains. What is it about the early Georgian era that’s so much more nuanced and delectable than Regency? I don’t know, and I don’t care because I just could not get enough of this book! Freaking Elizabeth Hoyt, I’m simultaneously angry and thrilled that I only just now discovered her.
So the Earl of Swartingham is his family’s sole survivor of smallpox. Tragic in itself, then add in that he’s horribly scarred from those same pox and sexily brooding with a generally grumpy attitude to boot and you’ve got yourself a swoon-worthy hero. The heroine, Anna Wren, is a lady, but she’s taking care of her cheating ex-husband’s mother and they’re running out of money so she wrangles herself a job as the Earl’s secretary. And so yeah, these two do some serious flirting and it’s great because they’re proper adults and take control of their destinies. There’s no, “Oh, but I don’t want to fall in love, I’m having the time of my life being poor and riding horses.” No, these two want to get it on with each other, and they do. Sort of. Kind of. Well, you’ll see.
So the The Earl of Swartingham (What a name, right? Hoyt really wants him to be ugly.) is so attracted to Anna, but he knows he’s unattractive, and so to stave off his desire for her that blooms due to their constant close proximity, he goes to a brothel in London. Apparently, a hand will just not do. Anyway, before Anna’s husband died, he was seriously cheating on her, like one of those dudes who just doesn’t care to hide that he’s cheating on his wife, cheating on her. So understandably, Anna now has some issues. One of which, there’s just no way she’s going to let the Earl go sleep with a woman that isn’t herself because, damnit, he wants her. And that’s the truth, he definitely does. So Anna disguises herself and weasels her way into the brothel and sleeps with the Earl. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky! And if this were another couple, this would be a huge dramatic, unforgivable offense. And for all intents and purposes, it should be. I don’t think it’s rape or anything, but it’s weird and creepy, but sweet if looked at in a different light.
If you haven’t guessed, the conflict arises when the Earl finds out that he slept with Anna in a brothel, except after a few yelling sentences, he seems abnormally pleased that a woman he desires finds him desirable enough to go to such measures to sleep with him. Ah, romance! These two characters then set about healing each other’s wounds and battered self-esteem, and it’s lovely and rich and touching to read.
I love flawed characters so much, and Edward is one of my favorites so far, especially in the Elizabeth Hoyt catalog. This was another winner for me. The best part is that I only have to wait another couple of weeks to read her newest book. Time can’t move fast enough because I’m eager to be swept back into the past while I await my own, hopefully romantic, future!