The Gentleman and the Thief
From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.
Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.
When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.
When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?
My review: 8/10
I thoroughly enjoy the style of this series - stories within stories. Ana and Hollis are delightful, especially as they are a number of steps removed from the stereotypical Heroine and Hero. Ana is strong and capable, but still has firm sentimental and feminine pulls. Hollis has insecurities of his own and a thirst to prove himself. I appreciated the emphasis on wit (rather than brawn) in this story. At one point Hollis remarks to himself that he loves that Ana doesn't hold a grudge over misunderstandings. As a reader, I appreciate that too. ;) Any misunderstandings were perfectly natural and settled directly without belaboring the point. I can't say it enough - I loved that.
I will say that while this is considered a stand alone novel, I think I would have been pretty confused if I hadn't read the first one. The Dread Penny Society is not given much explanation or back story, nor are the characters from the previous story. Not to mention that the over arching plot has carried from book one now to book two and apparently onward. Do yourself a favor and start with book one, the equally delightful The Lady and the Highwayman, if you haven't already.