Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors)
Judith’s review of The Ice Princess (Princes Trilogy #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt.
SEVEN NIGHTS OF SIN . . . As the madam of Aphrodite’s Grotto, the most infamous brothel in London, Coral Smythe knows everything possible about men’s needs and desires. Yet she’s never experienced the love of a single man—not even that of Captain Isaac Wargate whose hawk-like eyes stare at her with both condemnation…and lust.
SEVEN NIGHTS OF ECSTASY . . . Captain Wargate heartily disapproves of the sensuous madam who always wears a golden mask. She lures his officers from both his ship and their duty. But when Coral herself is offered up as the prize in a game of chance, Wargate impulsively enters…and wins.
SEVEN NIGHTS OF LOVE . . . Now the puritanical navy captain has just seven nights to learn everything he can about the mysterious madam and what she knows of a man’s desires. But when Coral is threatened by the new owner of Aphrodite’s Grotto, will Wargate take a chance on the woman beneath the mask…and on love?
This novella was first released in 2010 but has recently shown up again on Net Galley and as a committed Elizabeth Hoyt fan, I was delighted to read and review this work. It is a continuation of Carol Smythe’s story as part owner of a well-known brothel, one that is frequented by the ton as well as those well-heeled men of wealth from the business world. But the famous madam–a woman whose identity is hidden by a golden mask–has now come into a difficult financial situation and has now lost the majority ownership. The new majority owner has now determined that she will once again be required to service clients, and as a means of raising even more interest in her re-entry as an active prostitute, an auction sells her for seven consecutive nights. But she draws him in, even though he is determined that she will not attract his crew and distract them from their tasks and duties.
Perhaps the issue that drives this story is the need for the captain to examine his own values, his own deeper needs, the inner reality that attracted him to this infamous woman. The novella is so well-written that it reads like a longer novel and is filled with intense feelings, both on the part of the captain and the madam. It is about the longings both feel deeply, desires to know more than what their present lives have allowed, wanting to move out of their lives’ circumstances. This story is a study in how a man who has set such restrictive boundaries over his feelings and his natural needs that he is angry when he had to confront them. By the same token, Coral wants a life of normalcy, wanting to be loved and valued as a human being, not just an object of lust and a life as an object used to satisfy men who actually value her much as they would dirt on the bottom of their shoes.
This is a deeply emotional novella and one that will expand the story of the characters in this story series. It is a fine extension to stories that have already captured the interest of Hoyt fans and all of whom wait impatiently for her next work. I have already gone back and read this book once again and continue to appreciate the work of this author. I hope you do, too.
I give it a rating of 3.75 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.
This book is available from Forever Yours. You can buy it here or here in e-format.