Monday, April 30, 2012

Re-Read: The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

I have been busy and distracted lately.  Too many things are pulling at my attention.  At times like this I find it difficult to get pulled into a new book.  My mind wanders and I just don't do the story justice. When this mood strikes I know that the best thing for me to do as a read is to go back to a well loved novel and do a re-read. Having been in the mood for an historical, and finding an inexpensive copy at the store, I recently picked up The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt.  I remember loving it the first time around and was curious to see if it stood up to a second reading.  The verdict? Most definitely!  What a great read this was, and just what I needed right now.  I pulled up the review I wrote about it back in 2008 (whoa! Exactly four years ago today!) Everything I said back then still applies now.  So in a fit of laziness, here is my review revisited. I jotted a few current notes in red so you can see my thoughts today compared to 2008.

Title: The Raven Prince
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Genre: Historical Romance

Back cover

THERE COMES A TIME IN A LADY'S LIFE...Widowed Anna Wren is having a wretched day. After an arrogant male on horseback nearly squashes her, she arrives home to learn that she is in dire financial straits. What is a gently bred lady to do?
WHEN SHE MUST DO THE UNTHINKABLE...The Earl of Swartingham is in a quandary. Having frightened off two secretaries, Edward de Raaf needs someone who can withstand his bad temper and boorish behavior. Dammit! How hard can it be to find a decent secretary?
AND FIND EMPLOYMENT.When Anna becomes the earl’s secretary, both their problems are solved. Then she discovers he plans to visit the most notorious brothel in London for his “manly” needs. Well! Anna sees red—and decides to assuage her womanly” desires . . . with the earl as her unknowing lover.

When it comes to historical romance, I like my heroines to be spunky. Spunky and not 18 years old. Maybe I am getting old, but I just can't connect to a heroine who is only four years older than the students I teach. I really am leaning more and more towards characters who are...mature. Hey, I'm turning 35 in a few weeks. It was bound to happen eventually.  So it was with great pleasure that I read The Raven Prince. I had heard about this book on another book blog (please don't ask which one, I have no idea. See? Old.) I figured, what the heck, I might as well check it out. When I saw it on the shelf of my local library I quickly plucked it up.  My memory or the book was so positive that I snatched up a copy when I saw it at the store recently for $4.

Anna Wren is a sweet little widow living in a small English town with her mother-in-law. Could be a bad set up, right? Not so, for these ladies. Mother Wren is that rare wonderful creature, a MiL who honestly loves the woman her son married (she even admits her son was a jackass.) It has been four years since her husband passed away, and funds are getting tight. Ana decides that it falls upon her shoulders to step up and earn some cash. She looks into the typical occupations for females (governess, companion to an old lady, etc.) but no one in their neighborhood is hiring. Walking home after a disappointing day of job hunting, Anna runs into the steward of the local nobleman. Huzzah! He is looking to hire a secretary for the Earl. You see, the Earl has a bit of an anger management issue. Temper temper! Hmmm... let's see. Here stands one woman looking for employment and one steward seeking to hire a secretary. What do we get? Women's Lib!!! Ok, maybe not. We get the story of the plucky widow working in a man's world. Temper? pfft! Anna has no problem with the Earl of Swartingham's temper. Perhaps that is because she first dealt with it on page one of the book when he nearly ran her down with his horse. He admired her pluck then, and it keeps her in good standing as him employee.  (Um, I used the word "plucky" a lot.  For that, I apologize.)

From day one, something about Anna speaks to Edward. She seems like a plain little country mouse, but her sexy mouth and sassy attitude just do it for him. So much so that he deems it necessary to hie off to London to visit Aphrodite's Grotto to ease the lust he is feeling towards his secretary (heehee, I accidentally typed sexretary.) Oh but she has him all figured out! Little Anna has a major case of the hots for the Earl. Seems like a mutual thing, right? Oh yeah. Well, if he wants to find his release it better be with her! With the help of two ladies of the night she recently provided aid to (against outcry from all and sundry), Anna travels to London where she dons a mask and participates in some sexing so hot it nearly set the pages of the book to flame. Damn! I'm gonna have to try out some of that. ::fans self:: After two nights of the steamiest love making a mask and an arm chair have ever seen, Anna flees London, realizing that hawt s3x is not enough. She loves him.  The realization that their interludes were a hollow mockery of Anna's feelings was quite heartbreaking.  

Of course, he finds out. Remember that temper I mentioned? Boy howdy!!! The anger runneth over. So does the angst. You see, Edward is engaged! He wants a family. Anna was married four years and no baby was ever conceived. Do you see the problem. Well, I won't say much more. I fear I have already given too much away. But let me just lay out a few more of my favorite points:

- any scene with Anna and Edward verbally sparring Anna gives as good as she gets. Edward actually likes that someone is willing to stand up to him.
- Edward's dog and Anna's quest to find him a name
- Edward and the rose bushes  Such a perfect gift.  At that point even Edward doesn't realize how telling the gesture was.
- Edward getting into brawls
- Edward's insane lust for Anna
- Anna being all feisty and spunky  Strong, determined... there are so many better words to use, Shannon!
- the fact that Anna is 31 years old
- Edward not being a perfect example of male beauty  This was a major issue for the character, but it in fact gives Edward character. All of the men in Ms. Hoyt's books are complex and not quite what they seem.
- Anna standing up to everyone to do what is right
- the hawt hawt hawt love scenes
- Edward's yearning for home and family
- the book

What I found weird:

- the fact that the author used both anatomical names (penis and vagina) and euphemisms (cavern) This actually did not bother me the second time around. I didn't even notice until I re-read this comment.
- the fact that Edward surrounds himself with such strange characters (his household staff) but we never get their stories I definitely want to know more about certain household staff. Edward hints that there is a story there, but never delivers.

The Raven Prince was a delightfully fun historical romance. I would go so far as to say this would be the book to give someone new to the genre. When you take into consideration that this is (I believe) Ms. Hoyt's debut novel, it is truly a wonderfully written book. I strongly recommend that you search this out and read it. I can't wait to read The Leopard Prince. The mysterious Harry gets his own story. I just know this man has hidden depths!

Grade: A


Kristie (J) said...

All the books in this series are really great! She just seemed to burst onto the scene all ready ready. She seemed to skip past the minor leagues and hit the big leagues right away. Continuing to use the baseball analogy cause it works so well - with some new authors you can see the potential so you are willing to wait until they hit it out of the ball park so to speak 'cause you just know that the homer could come at any time. But with Elizabeth Hoyt - she hit it out of the ball park with her first at bat. I also read and really enjoyed her first contemporary too. Now the first book of her next series is at the top of my Eagerly Anticipating pile

Shannon said...

It was such a fun book to read. I am actually thinking of making her new release the selection for my book club during June. I have May planned out already. Oh yes, big plans are coming soon! On her website, Ms Hoyt has posted a book club discussion guide for all of her books. How great is that? I was also entertained to see in her bio that she lives in my state, in the same town that I attended college. It's nice knowing such a talented author comes from my neck of the woods.

Holly said...

From what I've read so far, she excels at heroines. I loved both the ones from The Serpent Prince and her new release.

I'll be picking this one up soon. Great review.

Sarai said...

I didn't care for this as much as Harry's book. I think it was my favorite out of all the books.

Carolyn Jean said...

What a nice, informative review. I really want to read this one. I think somebody is actually bringing it to the island, luckily.

Ana said...

You know, I really did not like this book at all. I know, I know I am in the minority - possibly even the only one.

little alys said...

I do like Elizabeth Hoyt, her books and characters are always so unique. :D The mini stories she had in this series was great too, and read The Leopard Prince soon! It was my favorite in this series.

And, why, yes I would love to come here and do a Wednesday segment. :D Just email me and let me know when!

Shannon said...

Alys, I can't find your email address. Can you drop me a line?

Nicola O. said...

Ana, the prince books left me a little cold too. Not sure quite why. Possibly that weird obstinance I get when everyone is telling me how awesome something is.

nath said...

Glad you still enjoyed the book Shannon :) I know Ms Hoyt is so popular, but her and me? We're just not clicking :( No matter how much I want to love her books :(

Shannon said...

Nicola and Nath, I'm sorry to hear her books never clicked for you. Have you tried her contemporary romances? I love those, too, and they have a bit of a different flavor to them.

Alys, I just finished reading The Leopard Prince (just posted a review) and am now starting The Serpent Prince. The beginnginng is familiar to me, so I must have started reading it once before, but I don't think I ever finished it. Not sure why.

nath said...

Her contemporary romances work better I think, but still not an auto-buy author. Also, she hasn't written any in a while.