I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
Years ago, Owen Renderwell earned acclaim—and a title—for the dashing rescue of a kidnapped duchess. But only a select few knew that Scotland Yard’s most famous detective was working alongside London’s most infamous thief…and his criminally brilliant daughter, Charlotte Walker.
Lottie was like no other woman in Victorian England. She challenged him. She dazzled him. She questioned everything he believed and everything he was, and he has never wanted anyone more. And then he lost her.
Now a private detective on the trail of a murderer, Owen has stormed back into Lottie’s life. She knows that no matter what they may pretend, he will always be a man of the law and she a criminal. Yet whenever he’s near, Owen has a way of making things complicated…and long for a future that can never be theirs.
I picked this up because I realized it was the same author who wrote A Christmas Dance, which I found charming and day brightening. Plus, the blurb sounded pretty intriguing, and since it is the first book in the series it was a relief to not have to dig through a backlist. The issue with that, of course, is then you have to wait impatiently for the next one to come out.
This is a somewhat different story than A Christmas Dance, not just that it is a full length story, but the themes are a bit darker. But the same trick of creating likable characters and especially a strong, capable, and quirky heroine were here. There are two main prongs to the story. One is the mystery itself, and the second is the Big Misunderstanding between the main characters. But the misunderstanding is more one of intent and perspective than anything else. Lottie and Owen have themselves in a fine tangle of misunderstanding and hurt feelings, but it is difficult to blame them, it is a fraught situation. And it doesn’t drag on either, they sit down and talk their way through most things approximately a quarter of the way into the story. Granted, it had dragged out 8 years prior to the start of the story, but since we as readers weren’t dragged through it as well, I didn’t find it bothersome. Which leaves the Big Secret, or rather Big Secrets. It is a twist alright.
I think this was really more Lottie’s story than it was Owen’s though. There was quite a bit of character growth for her. And a lot of heartache. Owen on the other hand, well, he was solid, and reliable. He was also on occasion, at least in his own head, somewhat ridiculous and kind of funny.
As for the plotting, the beginning and the ending were rather fast paced, but the middle dragged a bit. Sometimes it was frustrating and this is one of those books that I could put down for a bit and do other things and come back to it. While I do generally prefer that a book be gripping and that I can’t put it down, by the end I kind of understood the point. This isn’t one of those stories where the main characters hop into bed on a whim in a mad frenzy of lust. Despite their history, they got the chance to get to know each other as they are now. And that was lovely to see.
So my final verdict is to stick with it through the slog, and you’ll end up with a delightful romance and plenty of payoff in the end. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of the rest of the thief takers.