Books are my escape...I need it. My life is super busy between working full time, being a mom of 2 super social kids, a traveling husband, and an annoying habit of not being able to say "No".
I am all caught up with this series and waited with anxious impatience anticipation for the release of her sixth book in the Maiden Lane series. “Darling Beast” is very good, however, it did not live up to the expectations set by the last book “Duke of Midnight” which was 5 stars for me. “Darling Beast” picks up right where the last book left off with Apollo hiding out in the ruined gardens of Harte’s Folly where he meets Lily Stump, an actress that Mr. Harte, or rather Asa Makepeace, has let stay.
Both Apollo and Lily have fallen on tough times and find themselves in this pleasure garden that is in the process of being rebuilt. The interaction between them is interesting because it is as if the garden is a pretend world where class and status don’t mean anything. Apollo is trying to hide who he is as he is still wanted by the law and Lily is an actress and of lower status than Apollo. If they had met outside in society, they would not have the opportunity they have in the garden to fall in love. It is a sweet revelation for the two of them to come to act on their attraction despite the circumstances they find themselves in.
Their love scenes were on the rough side from the get-go and a departure from her other stories in this series. Do the downtrodden have rougher sex I wonder? I am not a prude but my eyebrows rose a few times.
Although, the author is good at developing her characters and letting the reader into their psyche, I had an extremely hard time picturing Apollo. He was described as having “hit six feet at age fifteen and topped that by several inches in the fourteen years since. Add to that the width of his shoulders, his massive hands, and a face that his sister had once affectionately compared to a gargoyle’s”. I could not relate to this description well and further descriptions of him included “not handsome” with “craggy” features. I understand this probably lent well to the situation Apollo was in but not really my idea of a hero I want to read about. Of course he had the physique and caring demeanor to give him an attractive appeal and he was assertive in his attraction to Lily. He was also sweet to her son and we women know how well that can go in a guy’s favor.
The secondary characters in this book were not all that interesting. Captain Tremillion, who has appeared in each book, was more prominent at Phoebe Battten’s guard/caretaker, but is grouchy all the time and juxtaposed to Phoebe’s cheerfulness. Captain Tremillion comes to see Apollo’s innocence a bit too quickly in my opinion that you wonder why Apollo is still being sought by the law if it was that easy for the Captain to figure out.
There are a hodgepodge of people in this story with little background who were not developed enough to keep the reader engaged. The Duke of Montgomery is an odd character. References to his collecting people and his insistence on helping Apollo so he can get his garden finished seemed to foreshadow that an ulterior motive might be revealed and then none occurred. Lily’s brother was a distraction as well and kind of swarmy. Indio was sweet, but what kind of name is Indio in the early 1800’s?
These were some of my gripes with the book and why it was a 3 star and not a 5. However, I love this series and am eager for the next book!