I have fallen in love with a pirate.
We have seen glimpses of "Charming" Mickey O'Connor throughout the first two books of Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series. And we have, of course, witnessed Silence Hollingbrook sacrifice herself to Mickey for one night to save her husband from charges he stole cargo from one of Mickey's ships. On that fateful night, Mickey didn't touch Silence, but when she returned home to her husband, all trust was lost, and he soon died.
Now Silence, who with her brother Winter runs the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children in the very poor part of London called St. Giles, mourns the loss of her husband and bears the shame of everyone thinking Mickey took advantage of her. But she has bigger concerns. Mickey has kidnapped the very young Mary Darling from Silence's home. Mary was left on the orphanage's door step a year ago, and Silence has come to care for her as her own daughter. But she has suspicions that Mickey is Mary's father.
Mickey is a river pirate, making every boat that passes along the Thames pay him a tithe. He kills, thieves and, although from the outside you would never guess it, he lives in a palace in St. Giles. The heavily guarded, outwardly dilapidated buildings house vast riches. Surrounded by treasures, servants and any woman he wants, Mickey is leading a grand life. But he can't shake that one night he spent with Silence. Although he never touched her, her beauty and air of purity make him desire her in a way he has never felt before.
Mickey has many enemies, but the biggest threat comes from the vicar of Whitechapel, aka Charles O'Grady. The vicar wants revenge for past conflicts with Mickey, and word has reached him that Mickey has a daughter and possibly might have feelings for the innocent Silence. Desperate to keep them safe, Mickey kidnaps Mary, knowing Silence will storm his home to find her. Then, when both are under his roof, he must keep them with him -- and maybe let Silence have a glimpse of the side of him that isn't a pirate.
I always have a hard time writing reviews for books I absolutely love, andScandalous Desires is one that I have much love for. We have only seen a little of Mickey in the previous two books, and I wasn't sure how Elizabeth Hoyt was going to turn this pirate into a romance hero. My favorite thing is that she doesn't turn him into something he is not. He kills and thieves and revels in his treasures, but then we get these tiny glimpses of his softer side. We saw in Book 2 how he forced Silence to stay with him one night, though he never touched her. But we also saw how he made her walk home in the morning, with her corset undone and her hair messed up so all would think they'd had sex. He has a ruthless side - one that was cultivated from growing up on the streets of St. Giles.
Hoyt also allows us a glimpse of Mickey's softer side. For instance, he demands all of his guards and servants eat dinner with him every night so that everyone is fed well. He pays them well, too, so he has no fear they will steal from him. He may not have a family related by blood, but he has made those he works with his family of sorts.
So when Silence and Mary come into his home, Mickey comes to think of them as his, and he will protect them at all costs, which makes him vulnerable. And his enemies know this.
Of course, it is not at all fun and games when Silence and Mary live with him. Mickey expects obedience, and the only way he can keep them truly safe is if they are locked in their room. But Silence, having to entertain a 1-year-old, needs out.
Mickey O'Connor loomed over her, arms crossed, feet braced wide apart. "What in the name o' all that's holy did ye think ye were doin'?"
She tilted her chin. "Going for a walk."
He bent, thrusting his handsome face into hers. "When I gave ye orders to stay in yer rooms?"
"Yes." She licked her bottom lip.
For a moment his gaze dropped to her mouth before snapping back up to meet her eyes. "No one disobeys me in me own home!"
For a moment she wasn't sure she could speak. He was crowded into her, his very breath hot upon her cheek. He was so much bigger than she. So much more physically powerful.
But she had determination. "Evidently someone does now."
Silence is a wonderful match for him. She is all warmth and tenderness, but she also can be stubborn. And while she doesn't approve of Mickey's pirate ways, she also shows him compassion and understands how his childhood shaped him into the man he is today. And that is a man who is a pirate, but also a caring, protective, human.
Their romance is very slow to build, which is good. Silence has trust issues to get over relating to her past night spent in Mickey's bed and the fact that he is a pirate. Their romance might take awhile, but is so sexy. There is action -- and adventure of the kind you would expect from a pirate -- but there are also quieter, gentle moments that just stole my heart. And when Mickey finally asks this question:
"Will ye be comin' to me bed tonight, Silence Hollingbrook?"
It is worth the many pages it takes to get there.
I also have to mention Winter, Silence's brother. In past books he has always been so very serious and dour. In Scandalous Desires, he is still all of those things, but we also see a little more edge to him. Dare I saw he almost growls in this book? Oh, Winter Makepeace. I cannot wait for your book.
Scandalous Desires will likely end up being my favorite romance book this year.