I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
Darling Beast is book #7 in Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series. It is about Apollo Greaves, recent escapee from Bedlam, who lives in secret at a ruined pleasure garden. Also seeking refuge at the garden is acclaimed actress Lily Stump. She's out of work after leaving a theater to work for Mr. Harte at his pleasure garden, but she also secretly writes plays. Apollo is the twin sister of Artemis, the heroine from book #6.
What worked: Lily is a plucky heroine. I liked the class differences (which are known to the reader but not to Lily for a while). Apollo is a kind, good-natured, funny hero. He refers to his brother-in-law, the Duke of Wakefield as His Grace the Ass, which is completely accurate. After a brutal beating, Apollo lost the use of his voice. How he copes with that was, at times, sweet and funny. I'm also a nature lover so all of the talk of gardens and flowers and ponds and trees was lovely. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery is all over this book as a secondary character. He's a scene-stealer, but since I adore him, it worked for me.
What didn't work as well: this story starts out slowly and took me a while to get into. There's an element of Beauty and the Beast early on that didn't quite click, maybe because Apollo is nothing like Beast.
I did like Lily and Apollo together. Clearing Apollo's name is not an easy trick and I really wasn't sure how that was going to work out exactly.
A fine addition to the series with lots of starry nights, a scrappy, talented working-class heroine, and a sweet hero who is almost too good for this world of machinations.