Series spoilers included
If you have read or listened to any of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, it’s likely you know Winter Makepeace, the serious, stoic headmaster of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundlings. He’s also the brother of Silence, the heroine of Scandalous Desires, and Thief of Shadows takes up just minutes after then end of the former. He has another identity, unknown to all, as the Ghost of St. Giles – mysteriously appearing at night righting wrongs for the disadvantaged. His life by day seems dull to most but he is truly dedicated to the cause of caring for orphans and rescuing children in harm’s way.
Lady Isabel Beckinhall is one of the Patronesses of the children’s home. Now that donations are flowing in, thanks to the efforts of the Lady’s Syndicate, there’s concern that Winter may not be refined enough to continue their fund raising. Isabel volunteers to tutor Winter socially to enable him to make a good impression on potential donors as he seems a rather rude man. But Winter can’t tolerate the idea of changing in any way to satisfy those pretentious potential donors and doesn’t have the time either.
Ashford MacNab narrates all of the entries in the Maiden Lane series and she’s definitely a member of the above average narrator club. The first in this series, Wicked Intentions (WI), is also my favorite and Ms. MacNab is partially responsible for that honor. Oh, Hoyt definitely wrote a great book when she penned WI but Macnab’s narration put it over the top. And since I rarely read a book in print before listening to an audiobook these days, I now expect MacNab to enrich all of Hoyt’s titles with her performance. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible with Thief of Shadows and it has nothing to do with the narration.
This time around it’s Hoyt’s writing, complete with contrived plot lines and the lack of vibrant lead characters. Winter and Isabel are nice enough but their personalities aren’t the strength necessary to carry lead roles and pull it off with the passion romance listeners expect.
Throughout the previous entries in the series, Hoyt has taken the time to build up Winter’s character only to deliver a less than stellar hero. Isabel, while a good natured person, exhibits little warmth. She totally disregards Winter’s position on intimate affairs and, although I’m longing to say more about that particular plot line, I must restrain myself for the sake of preventing spoilers. It’s all too contemporary for Historical Romance and Isabel uses her position in society as her reasoning for the majority of her actions – something I cared for even less.
Regardless, when it comes to pleasant listening, MacNab knows how to deliver. Her voice is melodic and makes it easy to tune in totally to the tale without thinking twice about the narration. Winter is clearly performed and sounds all male – complete with attitudes and vulnerability. MacNab’s take on Isabel is rich, adding further dimension to a character I doubt I would have cared for that much in print.
There’s no doubt that I will continue to eagerly watch for future books in this series. Hoyt’s site states that Lord of Darkness, the next in the series, is scheduled for publication in February 2013. Since Thief of Shadows’ audio was released simultaneously with the print version, I hope I’ll be listening in February as well.
Book Content: C
Steam Factor: For Your Burning Ears Only
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Hachette Audio