The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Princes #3
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: September 1st 2007
Genres: Fiction, Romance, General, Historical
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WHEN THE DEVIL MEETS AN ANGELCountry bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man - a naked unconscious man - and loses her innocence forever.
HE CAN TAKE HER TO HEAVENViscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he's hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities - even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.
OR TO HELLCharmed by Simon's sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has - her love.
Sybil forced me into reading this book. She swore it was the best thing since If His Kiss is Wicked, and talked me into buying it. There was some drama with Amazon over this book which may prompt me to write them a letter.
I ended up buying it in eBook format. I think it started out kind of slow, but once I got past the first couple of chapters, I fell right into it.
Lucy Craddock-Hayes is out for her morning walk and stumbles upon what she believes is a dead body..a dead naked body. As it turns out, he isn’t dead at all. He’s one Viscount Simon Iddesleigh and he’s been beaten to a pulp and left for dead.
Lucy takes him home and begins nursing him back to health. She’s very surprised to learn his identity and even more surprised to find that she likes him. He’s witty and sarcastic, but she sees depth in him and it intrigues her.
Eventually Simon is well enough to leave, but hesitates until he and Lucy are shot at. To keep Lucy safe, he heads back to London to do what he was doing before he ended up nearly dead in the country…avenge the death of his brother.
But he finds he can’t stay away from Lucy, and after a short period of time he returns to the country to ask for her hand in marriage. She immediately accepts. But once married and settled in London, the danger surrounding Simon begins to escalate and Lucy fears she’ll never be able to save him from his biggest threat…himself.
I’m honestly not sure how to review this book. There are so many things I want to touch on I’m not sure where to start or how to properly express my thoughts.
I think I’ll just make a list and go from there.
What an amazingly deep character. On the surface he has a devil-may-care attitude, but he showed so much more depth than I expected. He truly was tormented by the death of his brother and committed to his quest for revenge on those responsible. Each death was a stain on his soul.
The thing is, Simon wasn’t your typical Alpha hero. He was actually described as more Beta than anything, though I didn’t think of him as such. For example, he wore red heeled shoes and wigs and ruffles. Honestly, I think EH did a fabulous job representing the times. Too often we see men in nothing but breeches and boots, when that wasn’t in keeping with the style of that era. But despite his heeled shoes and wigs, I felt he was…manly. Although he put up the front of being reckless and one of the lazy ton, his character was deeper than that.
Watching his inner struggles and seeing his obvious care for Lucy was fabulous. I was well and truly emotionally invested in his journey. Although he knows he should let her go, he can’t. After one duel, before they’re married, he comes home wounded and bleeding. Lucy tries to get him into bed and he begs her to stay with him.
“Severe angel.” He finally opened his eyes, frost gray and intense. “Promise me. Promise me on your mother’s memory that you won’t leave me if I give you back your wings.”
She blinked and thought about it, but in the end there was really no other answer. “I promise you.”
He leaned closer until she could see the shards of ice in his eyes. “Say it.”
“I promise on my mother’s memory,” she whispered, “that I won’t leave you.”
She didn’t know whether it was a curse or a prayer, but his mouth came down on hers hard.
….Lucy looked down at herself. Thee was a bloody hand print on the bodice of her dress.
Though Lucy becomes more important to him than anything else, he can’t give up his quest for vengeance. He struggles to do what’s right, although he isn’t sure what that is….Lucy’s idea of right is to stop killing, but he knows he needs to avenge his brother.
I loved this heroine. She was rather unconventional for a historical heroine. Her childhood was a good one, so she didn’t suffer many of the issues so many others do. She wasn’t afraid of love or commitment, didn’t fear men and had a rather bright outlook on life that wasn’t at all annoying.
I don’t think there was much growth on Lucy’s part throughout the book, but I wasn’t disappointed by that. To be honest, her character was perfect as it was. Her personal conflict came from caring about Simon too much to watch him destroy himself, and that was her main focus. Could she truly love a man who was so violent? Who killed others in cold blood?
She sees the different sides of him, mainly with the help of Simon’s niece, whom he calls Pocket. She struggles to reconcile the cold-blooded killer with the simple, caring man.
Lucy stilled, imagining Simon comforting this little girl at his brother’s graveside, putting aside his own grief to explain in childish terms that her father wouldn’t suffocate in the ground. What a tender act. And what was she to do with this new side to Simon? It would be so much easier if he was simply a man who killed, someone who was callous and uncaring. But he wasn’t. He was a loving uncle, a man who tended roses all by himself in a glass cathedral. A man who acted like he needed her and made her promise never to leave him.
Never to leave him…
I truly enjoyed this book. It turned out to be much darker than I expected, which was a welcome surprise. As it turns out, there was a conspiracy involved in the murder plot, and Simon won’t rest until he’s tracked down every responsible party and killed them.
What Simon hasn’t realized – or doesn’t care to realize – is the toll this has taken on his soul. When he meets Lucy he’s fascinated by her innocence and light. But he knows he’s beyond redemption and that she’s not for him, so he does his best to resist her. And even after he decides he can’t live without her he hates himself for tainting her with his darkness, and yet he can’t seem to set her free.
Although the main focus of the book is on Simon and Lucy’s relationship, the secondary story of Simon’s quest for revenge is..amazing. Seeing Lucy fight for him, and seeing Simon fight for what he feels is right, is what truly made this story. I didn’t doubt for a moment that Lucy and Simon cared for each other, but I wasn’t at all sure love would be enough.
The ending of the book was just…amazing. I think I even cried a bit. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you’re interested, Sybil and Meljean Brook had a discussion about it here in the comments section.
You can also read Lawson’s review here. She did a better job than me of outlining the story and finer points of the characters, IMO.
Despite a few flaws I found with the story (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m referring to..and if you haven’t, read it to find out) I have to give this:
5 out of 5