When people come to me for historical recommendations I always tell them about the Maiden Lane series by Elizabeth Hoyt
. Honestly, it’s my favorite historical series out there, and while the books are connected, they can easily be read as stand-alones, which makes it perfect
for binge reading. Hold that thought because we’ve got a chance for one lucky winner to do just that.
I love this series because it’s got a breathless pace. I would categorize it as historical action/ adventure. It’s also got some of the best anti-heroes (Lazarus Huntington, anyone?) and tough-as-nails heroines I’ve ever read. Add masked vigilantes, some light bondage, a Beauty and the Beast novel, set to low for 8 hours, stir before serving, and you have a recipe for all of Elyse’s catnip.
After twelve books, the series is wrapping up, which is giving me all the bittersweet feels. Author Elizabeth Hoyt agreed to answer a few of my questions about the Maiden Lane world.
Elyse: First of all, thanks for being super cool at RT in Dallas when I showed up in the lobby in my pajamas to meet you. I’m pretty sure my PJs had cats in astronaut gear on them, I was holding a glass of champagne, and you didn’t bat an eyelash.
Elizabeth Hoyt: Ha! I think that was after another looong RITAs program…. PJs sounded like a good idea.
Elyse: One of the things I love so much about the Maiden Lane series is that it has such a strong action/ adventure element to it. We have masked vigilantes, river pirates, and dukes working to bring down cults. The characters are always moving, always doing, and often in danger. How do you incorporate all these different elements into your world? As a writer, is it difficult to maintain that kind of pace?
You know, I didn’t consciously set out to write action-y romances when I first started writing. But a lot of what I like in romances — swordfights! Concealed identities! People being saved from death and maiming! — are a byproduct of action. Also, it turns out that I’m easily bored, which may be part of the reason there’s always new, exciting things going on in my books. What sometimes becomes problematic is keeping the level of intensity consistent from book to book in a series.
Elyse: This series has a very distinct sense of time and place. You write in the Georgian era around the 1730’s and 1740’s, well before the Regency. What made you want to write about this specific period in English history?
Elizabeth Hoyt: I think it’s more interesting. The time is slightly more earthy, the dresses are (in my opinion) more elegant, and the guys are wearing wigs and swords. Lots of things are happening socially and economically. London’s population is exploding, the Enlightenment is blooming, the agricultural revolution is beginning, and people are discovering real science. All the great action adventure romances in movies and books were set in this time period — Scaramouche, Captain Blood, The Scarlet Pimpernel—and my favorite as a very impressionable twelve year old—Poldark.
Elyse: My favorite Maiden Lane heroes are always the anti-heroes. When I recommend Wicked Intentions I tell people the hero was like Lucius Malfoy if he was a romance hero who was also into bondage. The Duke of Montgomery reminds me of Patrick Jane, one of my favorite TV characters. And then there’s Mickey O’Connor, an actual pirate. All of these heroes do some really dubious things, are clearly flawed, yet somehow totally work as heroes. How do you balance the anti-hero and hero out so they don’t alienate the reader? Are your heroes inspired by any historical or pop culture figures?
Elizabeth Hoyt: I think the writer has to reveal the anti-hero’s humanity to the reader to make them work. The reader has to sympathize with the character if not his actions. But I don’t worry about alienating the reader too much. I think a lot of romance writers don’t take enough risks with their villainy heroes—they’re too worried that readers won’t like the character. If a few readers don’t loathe a character, others won’t love him.
I don’t really base my characters on real or fictional figures, though I’ve certainly been inspired by them. Case in point, Lazarus’s look in Wicked Intentions was a direct result of seeing Jason Isaacs in a long, white-blond wig in the Harry Potter films, OMG.
I started thinking about a true villainous hero while watching 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe. I was fascinated by his character in that movie—he’s the villain and he’s obviously either a sociopath or close to it, but he’s also the most enthralling character in the movie, with a weird sort of masculine ethos that’s almost heroic. That line of thought eventually (several years later) ended in Val in Duke of Sin
. Val also owes quite a bit to Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki.
Elyse: You also write really tough, resilient heroines. Lady Phoebe Batten from Dearest Rogue is blind, and determined to prove to her protector that it doesn’t hold her back at all. Temperance and her sister Silence are both faced with some really dire circumstances that they approach with remarkable grit. And Alf from Duke of Pleasure is basically Batman. Who is your favorite heroine? Who was the most fun to write?
Elizabeth Hoyt: I think Phoebe is my favorite heroine — she’s just so strong and cheerful — and it was a fun challenge to write her POV scenes without any visual descriptions. I really enjoyed writing Alf, not only because she’s a smartass but because swordfights! In a dress!
Elyse: As sad as I am to see this series end, I’m excited for what’s to come. Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
Elizabeth Hoyt: I’ve been dodging this question for the last several months—not because I didn’t have something I’ve been working on, but because I wasn’t ready to reveal anything about my new series.
But I think I’ve got enough of the first book to give you a tiny—exclusive!—peek:
Lady Freya de Moray has never had a season, never been courted. Due to the terrible scandal involving her brother, the Duke of Ayr, she’s been shunned. Now eight-and-twenty, she’s changed her name and found employment in London as a governess-cum-chaperone for two young girls. It’s unappreciated work, but she’s grown fond of her charges and made peace with her life.
Until, that is, she runs into Christopher “Kester” Renshaw, the Earl of Harlow, the man who helped ruin her brother and destroyed her life. Not only does the scoundrel not recognize Freya, he’s wearing the Ayr ring—a family heirloom taken off the finger of her brother the night he was disfigured. On the spot Freya decides to take back a little of what was snatched from her family…and steal that ring.
Elyse: Oh, like that’s going to be an easy book to wait for!
So if you’re thinking you’d like to try the Maiden Lane series, and you’re not sure where to start, Forever Publishing is making it very easy with a giveaway!
We have a complete set of all the paperback Maiden Lane novels, with signed bookplates, and a Forever romance tote bag for one lucky winner!
YES. The ENTIRE paperback series, including:
That’s a lot of books – and it’s perfect for binge reading. To enter, just leave a comment and tell us what essentials you’ll have with you for this binge-reading extravaganza!
Standard disclaimers apply: Open to US and Canadian readers. Fighting over your favorite Hoyt hero in the comments is definitely encouraged. Please acquire a chaperone for any Maiden Lane outings, and if you plan to binge read the series, make sure you have a significant amount of PTO or sick time at work! Comments will close Friday 27 October and a winner announced shortly afterward.
Good luck, and thank you to Elizabeth Hoyt and Grand Central/Forever!