AUTHOR(S): K.C. Bateman
SERIES: Secrets and Spies #1
GENRE: Historical Romance -- Napoleonic France
PUBLICATION DATE: February 23, 2016
LENGTH: 314 pages
DATE READ: September 2016
READING CHALLENGES: 2016 Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge, 2016 New to You Reading Challenge
CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Alpha Hero, Criminal Heroine, Spies
TROPES: Enemies to Lovers, Opposites Attract, Revenge Plot
RATING: 4.5 STARS
Forced to do the bidding of a corrupt government minister, Marianne de Bonnard agrees to plant incriminating evidence in the offices of France’s most notorious spymaster. Under cover of night, the tightrope-walking thief puts her skills to good use—until her aerial stunt is foiled when her target appears in the window and, with consummate poise, helps Marianne off the wire and into his lair. The tremors that run through her body are not just from fear; there’s an unwanted frisson of desire there, too. But is it because of her elegant, wickedly handsome host . . . or his proposition?
Nicolas Valette has had plans for his graceful trespasser since he witnessed her unique skills at the Cirque Olympique. Sinuous as a cat, Marianne is perfect for his next mission, but she refuses his generous offer for fear of disobeying her family’s tormenter. When their mutual enemy auctions off her virginity to the highest bidder, Nicolas leaps at the chance to purchase her cooperation. Keeping her will be like trying to tame a wild animal, but what’s life without a little risk? Besides, Nicolas and Marianne both want the same thing: revenge—and, perhaps, something else that’s equally delicious.MY THOUGHTS:
I found about K.C. Bateman and To Steal a Heart through a review on Caz's Reading Room. I was intrigued by the setting and the description of the heroine. And my expectations were definitely met thanks to the beautiful writing, action-packed plot, and steamy love story.
Marianne is a tightrope walker who is under the thumb of a corrupt official. Often she is forced to perform various illegal tasks in order to achieve Duval's goals. Her latest assignment forces her to sneak into the office of the mysterious Nicolas Vallette and place damaging evidence. But, she is caught and, through a series of events, Nicolas convinces her to use her unique skills to complete a task of his own choosing. Nicolas and Marianne are forced to spend time together to make their mission a success and, in the process, begin to discover that there is something growing between them.
I thought Marianne was a fascinating and admirable heroine. Her life changed forever when the Revolution started and she has done everything she can to keep her younger sister safe. I liked seeing how she used her physical and mental prowess to achieve her goals. Nicolas was also an interesting character with his mysterious background and his devotion to avenging his brother's death. He was a strong, composed hero who isn't used to relying on other people for assistance, but acknowledges Marianne's skills.
The plot of To Steal a Heart is nicely balanced between the romance and the action. Nicolas and Marianne's relationship builds while he is training her for the mission. Neither of them is looking for love, but forced proximity causes their physical attraction to turn into a more emotional connection. I loved the back and forth between them and that they tested one another when they needed it the most. Nicolas needs to live for something other than revenge and Marianne needs to deal with issues in her past to finally look towards the future.
Spies aren't normally my thing, mostly because I feel like they have become an easy plot device for authors. But, K.C. Bateman does an impeccable job of providing readers with an action-packed spy story line that feels realistic. There were definitely some times where I was wondering how Nicolas or Marianne would get out of the various situations they kept finding themselves in. I appreciated the sense of danger that was brought to the subplot and how that helped the romance become even stronger.
I had a great time reading To Steal a Heart and recommend it for readers who like spy romances. I also have to give a shout-out to the setting. I love 19th century England as much as the next historical romance fangirl, but it was nice to see a different country take centerstage. It is obvious that a lot of research went into creating France during this time period and I thought those details added to my enjoyment. I definitely plan on reading the next in the series especially since it focuses on Nicolas's younger sister and a smuggler who is much more then he appears.
BOOKS IN THE SERIES: