As a self-proclaimed gothic novel enthusiast, I immediately planned a trip to the bookstore when I learned of Wicked Intentions. Set in 1737, a wee bit before my comfortable Regency England, Wicked Intentions is the story of Temperance Dews, a widow helping her brother run the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children. Located in St. Giles, where the poorest of the poor of London live, the book opens with Temperance and the maid Nell ushering home a few days old infant through the dark and dangerous streets. St. Giles is bad enough during the day, at night however, only the desperate, murderous, or stupid venture out after the sun sets. Throwing caution to the wind, Temperance sets out for the small infant, knowing by morning she will be gone.
In their rush through the dirty streets, they come across a man with long silver hair, standing over what looks to be a dead man. Remembering Nell’s story of the ghost of St. Giles, and his method of murder, they both hurry on to the relative safety of the home. Seeing the infant to bed, and thinking she is alone for the night, she discovers a man sitting in her small parlour. A man with long silver hair.
Lord Caire is a man with a purpose, and Temperance Dews is the person he requires to assist him. Caire propositions Temperance to help him find the murderer of his mistress, while helping her find a patron for the broke home. Feeling as if she is making a deal with the devil himself, she agrees against her better judgement. Their search takes them into the darkest corners of St. Giles, where some things are best left unknown and unseen.
What follows is nothing short of gothic novel and romance greatness. Caire and Temperance are drawn to each other, and while she tries to fight it, he embraces the attraction. Temperance is hiding a dark secret that causes her extreme guilt, but the temptation of Lord Caire and his questionable bedroom antics lures her like no other. The unassuming manner of Temperance, and her ability to see him as a man, and not a fortune, appeal to Caire, and he begins to care for her, an emotion long-lost to him. As their investigation continues to dig deeper, the threat gets closer to them, and they only realize it just before it’s too late.
Be warned in advance, this IS a gothic novel, and some parts are very dark, and delve into some questionable subject matter. This is no light-hearted romp through the ton, but a picture of the poorer side of London. Hoyt writes each scene with such vivid descriptions that you easily find yourself in St. Giles street, running from the ghost. Definitely one to pick up if you enjoy the darker side of romance.