What a thrilling, romantic, sexy, and emotionally compelling conclusion – albeit a bloody one – to the Prince’s Trilogy!
Viscount Simon Iddesleigh is a man hell bent on avenging his brother’s murder and nothing and no one can keep him from his mission. Using whatever means he can, he hunts them down, calls them out, and then dispenses with them. The truth? Can’t say as I blame him, but the men responsible know what he’s about and they disagree with me. They’ve decided to stop waiting around to be killed. They’re turning the tables and the hunter has become the hunted.
Country bred miss, Lucinda Craddock-Hayes, happens upon a dead man – a naked dead man – lying in the road and rather than just leave him there, she insists on taking the body with her so she can make sure he gets a proper burial. Much to her surprise, however, the dead body moaned, thus dispelling her notion that it was dead at all and instead of seeing to a burial, Miss Craddock-Hayes takes this stranger home with her and much to her father’s consternation, takes on the responsibility of nursing him back to health. When he regains consciousness a couple of days later, Simon is shocked to find himself in Maiden Hill, so far from London and in Lucy’s care, but remembers exactly how he was injured, and who is responsible – and that only makes him more determined to get to “them” before “they” get to him.
I enjoyed both Simon and Lucy and thought they balanced each other perfectly. Simon’s eccentric nature in both dress and behavior was very different from any other character I’ve ever read about, and I really liked that about him. Who knows for certain why he chose to dress the way he did, but it’s one of the things I found most endearing about him because deep down, I believe he wore his laced shirts and red heels as an armor of sorts. You see, as a youth he was delegated to the role of the “bad boy,” and given little attention. So, as a grown man, dressing in the more flamboyant garb drew attention to himself, still remembering the boy who was otherwise ignored. Now, that said, we get a candid glimpse of the Viscount in an interview he did with the author, Elizabeth Hoyt. Here is a snippet of said interview:
Q: My Lord, you have been described as a rakehell without any redeeming qualities. How do you answer such an accusation?
Simon: It’s always so hard to reply to compliments of this kind. One finds oneself stammering and overcome with pretty blushes.
As I said, this was just a snippet of the interview, but it’s is just one example of how Simon armors himself against society’s less than flattering opinions of him – with humor. The full interview can be found beginning on page 367 of The Serpent Prince.
Lucy had such a good, good soul. I don’t think anyone else could have gotten past Simon’s defenses the way she could. Caring, unobtrusive, intelligent, wise... she really was his other half.
Once again we’re given secondary characters who were a delight to get to know. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun with non-hero and heroine people in any other series, ever. In this case, I adored Lucy’s father, Captain Craddock-Hayes , her “man”, Hedge, the housekeeper, Mrs. Brodie, and Christopher Fletcher, Simon’s best friend. Here we have all of these people and they weren’t just there as filler! Their personalities shined through and if any one of them had their own story, I’d be reading it! The conversations, or shall I say, banters, were well written, easy to follow and made me laugh more than once! I loved the relationship between Lucy and her father, and cheered him on when, towards the end of the book, he revealed a rather personal, painful experience in order to help Lucy work her way through her own uncertain emotions. Despite his gruff attitude throughout the book, his love for her was always apparent. And dear Rosalind’s story broke my heart, but we weren’t left wondering what was to become of her… we were given a small glimpse into what the future held for her and Pocket.
Something I want to point out and that I found very fascinating was the insight we’re given into exactly what went into “calling someone out.” I was fascinated to watch as Simon hunted his enemies, and then manipulated them into actions that would allow him to challenge them to a duel and legally kill them. I know it sounds horrid, but it’s a part of history and something we frequently hear about in historical romance novels, but not with this level of detail. And then the actual duels themselves? Painful, bloody and deadly! I didn’t actually love the gore, but I appreciated the mood that was set, feeling the angst, the horror these men felt as they realized they would die… this was a horrible business, death… so I was … happy? to see it depicted with the seriousness this deserved.
For the trilogy as a whole, I’m having a tough time choosing my favorite book. I think it’s a tie between the Raven Prince and the Serpent Prince, because both stories were emotionally compelling and I adored the hero and heroine in both of those, while George bothered me with a completely out of character moment in the Leopard Prince. Choosing a hero, however, is impossible because the 3 men had such completely different personalities but were all truly amazing men.
So, as this trilogy comes to an end, I must say that I’m so very happy to have finally read these stories by Elizabeth Hoyt, and look forward to reading much more from her in the future.