Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt


In which I describe the experience of reading Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt:

The tightness in my chest began after Chapter 2, when, after two years of living apart, Megs and her coterie invade London and Godric's house. By page 76, after a volatile encounter between Godric and Megs, I was crying. Tears blurred the words -- but I kept reading -- and the tightness never leaves and I realize it is me feeling the painful poignancy of Godric and Megs' situation. And the tears never stop because I felt their sadness and confusion as they struggled to hold on to their pasts and to remember the loves they have lost -- and then I cried when I felt the joy of their resolution.

How does Elizabeth Hoyt manage this? How has she crafted this fairy tale romance unlike any other?

Once upon a time, Godric St John met the love of his life and married her and lived happily ever after for a short while. Then illness ravaged his beloved Clara and she lay dying slowly for nine years, taking with her Godric's heart and soul.
...They were supposed to age together, he and Clara, step in step, man and wife, a lifetime of love and friendship.

Instead, she was in the ground and he was left with half a life at best.

A life that was now permanently entangled with Margaret's.
- p. 74

Once upon a different time, Megs fell in love with Roger Fraser-Burnsby and surrendered her innocence to him. But, before they could live happily ever after, Roger was found murdered in the streets of St. Giles, leaving Megs pregnant, unwed and facing ruination if her condition were ever discovered.

Her brother, Griffin, quickly arranges a match between her and Godric, saving her reputation. Megs has lived quietly and separately in the country, content with her new life -- but not happy. She longs for all that she has lost, but she realizes she can never get them back: Roger, her innocence, her happiness, their baby (she miscarried) -- but she knows she can get one thing back. And she has come to London to ask Godric for it: a baby.

The key to Megs' happiness is Godric's total capitulation of heart, mind and body -- all of which he had given to his late wife, Clara. It destroys Godric piece by piece as he gives Megs what she desires the most. And Megs does not emerge from the arrangement unscathed. She is unprepared to feel more for Godric than she ever did with Roger. Love is devastating for our hero and heroine -- and we see them fall apart and wonder what would be left of them at the end.
"I ... I'm sorry, " she stuttered. "I didn't mean to give you the impression that I was pretending you were Roger. I wasn't. It's just that what we did seemed like a betrayal of him. I didn't want to lose him any more."

Her lips parted, but nothing more emerged because it had finally dawned on her whom she'd actually been betraying.

"Don't you think I might've felt the same way about Clara?" he asked low "Don't you think I had to sacrifice something to give you what you wanted?"
- p. 244

There is another part of Godric that he must keep secret: his work as The Ghost of St. Giles. In Lord of Darkness, Elizabeth Hoyt further expands on the mythos of The Ghost and begins a new tale: it is no longer the harlequin but the hellequin's persona that Godric embodies. The hellequin is the dark aspect of the Harlequin's origin: the devil's assistant who sends evil soul's into hell. Unlike the other Ghost (Winter), Godric kills in order to protect innocent life.

Life and Death. Good and Evil. Limbo. There is no longer a clear demarkation in Godric St. John's life -- and this is a terrible burden for him. It is only when Megs arrives that Godric is forced to draw a line and decide where he stands.
...there was no clear lines in St. Giles. No true black and white. Yes, there were murderers and thieves, those who preyed upon the weaker ... but those same murderers and thieves often sought to feed themselves or others.

One never knew.
- pp. 135-136

I imagine the journey that Godric and Megs as the forest of thorns in the Sleeping Beauty story where the prince cuts through and gets cut as he makes his way to the sleeping princess. What is wonderful about Megs and Godric is that they are moving towards each other. This is not a story where the lady waits: our hero and heroine are put through the wringer and challenged with each step -- and, in Godric and Megs, Elizabeth Hoyt has conceived two amazing and inspiring survivors: strong and courageous -- both know what they want, and that is to love -- what they needed was a push in the right direction.

Lord of Darkness is the fifth book in Elizabeth Hoyt's phenomenal Maiden Lane series. To find out more about Elizabeth Hoyt and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.


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