Rating: ★★★★ | 384 Pages | Sourcebooks Casablanca | Contemporary | 9/6/2016
Framed for triple homicide, Apollo Greaves escapes his abusive guards at Bedlam and takes refuge in the burned down pleasure garden he is secretly financing. With his throat damaged from a beating in Bedlam, Apollo is intent to pose as a mute, “dumb” gardener working in the garden. That is until he takes the interest of Lily Stump, a blacklisted theater actress living in the remains of the garden’s burned theater with her son.
And I guess this is supposed to be a Beauty and The Beast type story because Apollo is sups big and not traditionally handsome ?
I literally picked this book at random because I wanted to read a genre I haven’t read this year. I guess all the historicals I’ve ever read have been light hearted Regencies romances because I was thrown for a loop by this emotionally wrought Georgian melodrama with the angst switch turned to 11. So. Much. Angst.
That said, Darling Beast is perfectly crafted historical romance. Apollo and Lily’s story blend together with these chapter epigraphs from the Grecian Minotaur myth to create a wonderfully solid narrative with a few twists and turns I didn’t even see coming. Seriously, there were some driveway moments with this one.
The setting of this romance is so specific. Apollo and Lily are kind of outcasts from their social circles, so their courtship takes you completely out of the ballroom and into this burned down pleasure garden that Apollo is trying to rebuild. Also, if learning about 18th century horticulture is a thing you want Elizabeth Hoyt’s got you.
Now, there are some oddly racist references in this book. At one point she describes watching Apollo squatting down like a “hulking native” and “veritable savage” and at one point a character is described as an “Oriental potentate.” While that may have been how people talked back then, it felt in poor taste for the author to include them in her book..
Narrator Ashford McNab has this great husky, feminine voice for Lily and masters all the different British accents. Her performance of Apollo is especially noteworthy because throughout the book Apollo(spoiler alert) slowly gets his speech back and she has to change her voice as his voice heals.
A story about identity, the meaning of humanity and of course the feels.
So….why is this series called Maiden Lane ?