Apollo is working as a garden designer, restoring the burnt out ruin that was the pleasure garden Harte’s Folly. Four years ago, Apollo was wrongly accused of a brutal and senseless murder, and sent to Bedlam. Having escaped, he is at risk of being recaptured by the King’s men and reimprisoned or killed A savage beating in Bedlam has taken his voice.
Lily is an out of work actress, banned from the London stage by a vindictive theatre manager after she left him to work at Harte’s Folly. Harte, the eccentric part owner of the gardens, has allowed her, her child, and her maid to move into the two rooms that remain of the theatre.
When Lily’s son Indio meets Apollo and makes friends, Lily is first compassionate and then attracted.
As they begin to act on their attraction, Apollo becomes more and more determined to clear his name. But his own past and a secret from Lily’s past come back to put them both in terrible danger.
Both Apollo and Lilly were beautifully drawn. Apollo’s dreadful experiences in Bedlam make him fear that he is more monster than man, and Lilly has learnt never to trust an aristocrat, so is horrified to find that Apollo is a Viscount, heir to an Earl, and brother to a Duchess.
Each has to learn to trust and depend on the other.
Thank you, Elizabeth Hoyt, for another several hours in your world.
Several of the secondary characters are crying out to have their stories told.
I understand that Captain Trevillion and the blind sister of Apollo’s brother-in-law, Lady Phoebe, come next. The Captain is the lame ex-soldier who arrested Apollo but who also worked to clear him once he was convinced of his innocence. In Darling Beast, Lady Phoebe greatly resents the restrictions her brother forces on her in his overprotective love, restrictions that include the Captain as bodyguard.
I sense that the enigmatic and capricious Duke of Montgomery may already have met his match in Miss Royce.
Asa Makepeace, also known as Harte, must one day have his story. He’s a marvellous character, who has popped in and out of the books from the beginning of the series. Such a contrast to his sternly religious family, but with his own high moral code when pressed.
And what about Lily’s brother Edwin? Is there a story there?
I look forward to many more Maiden Lane stories.