Wednesday, July 20, 2016

2016 TBR CHALLENGE REVIEW: "To Love a Thief" by Julie Anne Long

To Love a Thief
Historical Romance
Warner Forever -- April 1, 2005
Ebook, 355 pages
Read in July 2016

Goodreads -- Author Website


Lily Masters has a gift for picking pockets and telling stories—skills that come in handy for surviving London's slums. She's proud of providing for herself and her lively young sister, Alice, and she's never been caught. Well, there's always a first time.

Gideon Cole is a brilliant barrister with an unfortunate weakness for clients who can't pay. His latest charitable misstep: buying the freedom of a daring, beautiful thief. To repay the debt, Lily agrees to his proposition: pose as the object of his desire and help him snare a wealthy bride. All he has to do is transform the impudent Lily into a diamond of the first water.

But the education of Lily could cost Gideon his carefully planned future. While she plays cards with his invalid uncle, and Alice charms the servants, the honorable Gideon is harboring less than honorable thoughts. For sweet, stubborn, and sensual Lily has a way of slipping past a gentleman's defenses—especially when she's stealing his heart. 

Class Differences, Thief Heroine, Children, House Party

I read this book for the 2016 TBR Challenge -- July -- Award Nominee or Winner.  The challenge is hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian.

To Love a Thief is a stand-alone historical romance that was nominated for Best Short Historical Romance at the 2006 RITA awards.  Julie Anne Long is a popular author and one whose backlist I've been meaning to dive into for awhile.  Before this book, I had only read What I Did for a Duke and really enjoyed it so I had high expectations for this story.  And I was not disappointed!

This is a fun and emotional retelling of the Pygmalion/My Fair Lady story where the hero ends up saving the heroine after she is caught stealing.  As payment, he decides to bring her to his family estate and groom her to be a lady so that she can help him gain the wife he wants.  There are parts of this premise that made me a little uncomfortable, but the writing and the characters really helped me get over those hesitations.

Gideon is a type of hero that I really like reading about.  His parents' death forced him to attempt to go through life pursuing a Master Plan which he believes will bring him the most happiness.  Part of that plan includes marrying Lady Constance, the daughter of a wealthy marquis.  But, his interactions with Lily force him to re-evaluate what he wants out of life.  Lily is fabulous as well.  While her life is difficult, she knows how to work with it and the only reason that she accepts Gideon's offer is to provide more security for her sister.  I really appreciated the way that the author depicted Lily's resourcefulness and how her experiences have helped her become the person that she is.  Plus it is always interesting to find yourself rooting for someone who is a criminal.

Lily and Gideon are an example of characters who have immediate chemistry, but spend much of the book resisting their attraction.  The tension in the waltz lesson scene and the picnic scene was some of the best I've read in awhile.  The only issue that I had with the romance was that Gideon took forever to finally come to terms with the fact that Lady Constance was not the woman for him.  I wanted to smack him a few times to make him see how much Lily cared for him and that he was hurting her.  The grovel scene was well-done, but I still was irritated with how dense Gideon was earlier in the book.

The secondary characters are just as developed as the main couple which makes the story come alive even more.  I especially enjoyed the way that Lily's sister, Gideon's best friend, and Gideon's uncle were threaded into the plot.  They helped me as a reader understand both Lily and Gideon more and also provided some humorous side moments.  I also found the characterization of Lady Constance to be interesting.  She could have been a caricature, but the author did a good job of providing details to explain why she was the way that she was.  It was easy to understand her motivations which made her much more than just a one-dimensional rival.

I had a great time reading To Love a Thief and I can tell why it was nominated for a RITA.  The writing is impeccable, the characters feel like they could jump off the page, and the plot had me reading late into the night.  I am happy that I finally dug this book out from the depths of my e-reader!

2016 TBR Challenge
2016 Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge
2016 Oldie But Goodie Reading Challenge


  1. I hate to say it, but I'm not really sure JAL is an author for me. I mean, I absolutely think she's a great writer, but there is always something that just bothers me in the books I've read by her. And, honestly, I so wasn't a fan of What I Did for a Duke. I know everyone loves it, but it just pissed me off. However, I'm glad you enjoyed this and that you are working on your TBR Challenge!

  2. Jennifer, I also loved this book. It's simple but well structured and the characters appealing. Not my absolute favorite by her, but one them for sure!

  3. Julie Anne Long? I think that I only read What I Did for a Duke, and I liked it but I didn't feel like reading more of her books. This one looks quite interesting, as any with that Pygmalion theme. Perhaps I'll read it in the future - if only my TBR pile were not reaching the Moon!

  4. Great review! I haven't read any of Julie Anne Long's books and I don't have any in my TBR. Thanks for bringing her to my attention. That's what I love about this challenge, that even though I should be depleting my TBR, it grows. :)

  5. You had me at Pygmalion...This sounds lovely! I am adding to to my list.


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