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To Beguile A Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To Beguile A Beast
Legend of the Four Soldiers #3

Elizabeth Hoyt
Historical Romance
Published in 2009

H/h - Sir Alistair Munroe/Helen Fitzwilliam
Setting: Scotland/London, 1765.

Read in April, 2011.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

                                                                        [spoiler alert]

Well, I'm really really loving this book! I was pretty sure with the heroine and all, I may not like it much but I'm so glad it didn't happen. From Helen's journey to Alistair's castle, to her kids, the dogs, their bickering and kisses to finally, their lovemaking- I'm having a blast! *grins*

As we know from To Seduce A Sinner, Helen was running away from her protector the Duke of Lister. This man, who became a duke at a very early age is one arrogant, pompous a$$. He seduced Helen at 17 and treated her like a possession ever since. Her children by him, naturally, are also his possession, though he never acknowledges them. Helen had been his mistress for 14 yrs now but he had long since stopped having sex with her, taken other mistresses in between. Helen being the naive virgin then, fell in love and chose this path. Well, to tell you the truth I have no idea WTF was she thinking. That guy was already married and had kids of his own, I'm yet to know the whole sordid history. She wanted to leave him once before but in response he'd taken away a then infant Abigail and threatened her with the kids ever since. So, it took her 14 yrs to gather courage and do that again. She's afraid and rightly so because she knows he'll never let her be once he finds them out. He'll take the kids and throw her out in the streets. Lord, don't know what to say! Many things come to mind but I'll refrain from speaking them!

So, with Melisande's help, she'd come to Alistair's place in Scotland- a dirty, dusty castle really in need of a housekeeper. Helen knows about housekeeping just as much as I do! lolz Alistair, of course, doesn't care for one and I'll tell you soon as to why. Helen does this or that, once even given up as he was determined to send them away but finally, won the clash of wills. Her kids, at first were a bit deflated but soon, start to find the place and it's master as interesting as their mother did. She, unwittingly, started becoming more and more attracted to Alistair, even his hideous scars from the war couldn't deter her.

The only thing Alistair could think when his new, unwanted housekeeper came to his house, his world would never be the same- again. After he was severely tortured by the Indians at Spinnar's Falls, he chose this life of seclusion; not because he was in misery about his appearance but, mostly because, people (specially kids) are afraid of his countenance. He doesn't want to inconvenience anyone, our Alistair. This is what made me love him more. He's the scholarly-type but he was handsome and though not a rake like Vale, had his time with the ladies. So, reading about his sad, unfair life was an agonizing experience. He's so secluded from the society that he doesn't even see his elder sister Sophia regularly, the only family he'd left. I was sad to read that the poor guy couldn't even get a woman, whores hike the price seeing his face! Ugh!! Once having such an experience, he'd just stopped thinking about getting it. All his hopes and dreams have shattered with Spinnar's Falls.

But even in all these, he published one book, written and illustrated all by himself and was knighted for it ... (have to mention, his right hand is mutilated as well so it must've took him time to learn to draw again and he did just that ... there is a scene there with Helen, I loved it) He's onto another book now but only if his beautiful housekeeper would let him be! Helen keeps on poking and prodding to get his attentions, unlike any housekeeper in the history of housekeepers. But, all because she cares. And Alistair knows he needs this. He likes the kids; they are lovely, specially Jamie, Helen's 5 yr old son. I loved all the scenes in this book so far, even Abby's point of views. The love scene, the one I've read so far, was hasty but very needy and hot. I mean I understood Alistair's part, really. And Helen was reciprocating very well.

There are funny scenes aplenty in this book. Helen's shots at housekeeping, frustrations and satisfactions were fun read, as were Helen and Alistair's bickering. One thing I understood was the phrase 'naive mistress'. I've read it in one review and thought it was true. She only had one protector so she's not like the other mistresses. Although a bit disillusioned about men, overall she isn't a jaded individual. She talks about hopes and dreams to Alistair and I know she wants those from him. She wants love and companionship but scared. Scared of ending up like before, scared for her kids. Scared because she knows she can be impetuous. And, after reading Alistair's sad story, I can only guess why he lived as he did. His relationship with his old dog Lady Grey was another thing tugged at my heart. She was his only companion for so many years, when she died I felt like crying. Alistair is a grumpy bear for sure but underneath he's a soft man.

So far, there's not much about the betrayal here. Alistair is aware of it as Vale visited him in To Seduce A Sinner, hope to see more on it, too. And yes, Alistair has no idea about Helen's past. He only knows she's a widow fallen on hard times, knew Melisande and came through her reference.

Loved it, adored Alistair! EH's books usually have many plots/happenings going on at the same time so it kinda gets tough for me to write it all down in my comments. This book's the same. But, I'll try to comment on what I liked the most as I finished the book.

I liked the way Helen and Alistair's relationship grew in Castle Greaves. Love scenes were 'oh damn' hot! I loved all of them, intense yet full of fun. For a man celibate for 7 yrs, Alistair proved he hadn't forgotten a thing, hahahaha :p. There were scenes with the children I loved, also with the new puppy and the process of naming him. As I said, there are also plenty of funny/adorable scenes.

But, the trouble begin when the duke found them out and kidnapped the children to punish Helen and force her back to him. The Duke is such a disgusting man, whose pastime is begetting bastards on his mistresses. But, nothing unusual in that era I think. Then as she asked for his help, Helen had to tell Alistair about her past life, her real name (Helen Carter) and her entire scandalous history with the Duke. And, I was questioning alongside Alistair, WTF were you thinking? He, of course, accused her of whoring herself out and asked her why make those adorable kids (not one but two) bastards the moment they were born. I couldn't defend Helen here cause whatever Alistair said were the raw facts and he was in pain, I felt it from his statements. Helen knew what she was becoming the moment she agreed to go with the Duke. Yes, she was very young and infatuated with his status and money, still... She was the daughter of a physician so, even low in status, she was from a respectable family. The Duke seduced her for his own purposes and she gave herself willingly. But, Helen never denied this fact, never denied what she used to be in the past. She had her own losses to cope with, realizing too late what she'd done. In the process of becoming a mistress, she'd lost her family (since most of them don't acknowledge her anymore), lost any hope of a respectable life. I applauded her for her courage and her love for her children. When the Duke said it's the only way to get back her kids, she was even considering going back to him, even though she realized she loves Alistair.

So, Alistair went to London and asked for Vale's help. And, with a lot of twists and turns came up with a plan. He was able to see the King in a party given by the current Earl of Blanchard (St. Aubyn's uncle) and managed to make Lister denounce his bastards in front of him. Here, we get to meet Beatrice, the heroine of the next book, who is the niece come hostess to the Earl. At the same time, Vale went to Lister's house, rescued the children and took them to his own house, to Melisande. The whole thing was quite clever. I'm saying this because it took me by surprise, I didn't know til the end what Alistair has planned. Alistair also made arrangements for Helen to meet her dad after 14 long yrs. Much more of Helen's family's reactions are revealed in that scene.

There is another twist in the betrayal plot. In To Seduce A Sinner, we saw a dead-end but there were rumors that the betrayer might be a nobleman, a peer of the realm. Here, there are developments as well but whatever EH's hinting at, only heightened my curiosity. Is it who I think it is? What's gonna happen in the next book?

Also, Helen was supposed to copy out that fairy tale book for Melisande. She's done the job and Melisande's asked her to keep it til she finds someone to bind it and send it to Emeline in America. I think Helen found someone to bind the book lolz. I know, it sounds innocuous but it's all interrelated. The fairy tale in this book was titled "Truth Teller", nice one. Liked it, too.

So, all in all, I'm giving it a 4.5 because I can honestly say that I really enjoyed this one. :)

Favorite Quote:
“He doesn’t like making others uncomfortable.”

Alistair's sister Sophia to Helen about Alistair.


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