St. Giles in the 1730s was one of the most impoverished areas of London. Widowed Mrs. Temperance Dews runs a children’s home for orphaned and foundling children, with the help of her younger brother, Winter Makepeace, who also tutors the boys until they’re old enough to apprentice out. Caring for nearly 30 children between infancy and nine is hard, thankless work and the siblings have trouble making ends meet. They’re in arrears on their rent and facing eviction at any moment.
So when the mysterious Lazarus Huntingdon (this book certainly wins for most original protagonist names), Lord Caire, breaks into her tiny and shabby sitting room to propose a bargain, Temperance doesn’t really have much choice but to accept. Lord Caire is looking for a murderer (although he doesn’t tell her that right away) and no one knows the nook sand crannies of St. Giles like Mrs. Dews. He wants to pay her to be his guide and in return, he agrees to introduce her into high society, so she can find a rich patron for the children’s home. He also promises to pay their expenses until she finds a patron.
Lord Caire’s quest for his mistress’ murderer (who was really gruesomely killed) proves to be a lot more dangerous than expected, and after several murder attempts and new murder victims turning up, he’s reluctant to bring Temperance with him. At the same time, his searches through St. Giles give him an excuse to spend more time with her. A jaded, thoroughly debauched man, Lazarus hasn’t really felt attracted to anyone before, but the saintly, near-puritanical widow draws him inexplicably and he wants to tempt her into giving up her carefully maintained control. Even more appealing to him is her reaction every time he tries to tempt her. Temperance Dews clearly has deep passion hidden inside and Lord Caire wants to be the one to draw it to the surface.
Wicked Intentions is the second part of last year’s Cannonball gift exchange from Beth Ellen, who told me in the accompanying card that this was one of her favourite romances. I was a bit wary, as I have tried to read Elizabeth Hoyt in the past (she keeps being raved about on various romance sites) and her books have at best left me mildly entertained.