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Julie Anne Long: To Love a Thief
by Lisa (troutqueen)
at October 7th, 2008 (11:28 pm)

This is my first book by this author, but not the last! I'm busy looking
up the backlist and seeing what I need to get next book-buying binge :)

To Love a Thief
by Julie Anne Long
Regency Historical

(For those of you who love standalones, this is one of them :)

Gideon Cole, a successful barrister (career-wise, not necessarily
financially), has his sights set on the incomparable Constance Clary, the
daughter of a Marquis. Constance can bring him a title, wealth and
prestige. Unfortunately, Constance has her eyes set on both Gideon and
another suitor and won't commit. Gideon strikes upon the idea of making
Constance jealous in order to win her hand, particularly when his plans to
buy the townhome his rival is planning to buy fails when he gives away the
30 pounds downpayment to save a thief for Newgate.

Lily Masters has been supporting herself and her younger sister as a
pickpocket, and she's a good one. Until she meets Gideon Cole and an angry
mark who threatens to send her to Newgate. In return for paying off the
mark, Gideon demands that Lily play his new interest to make Constance
jealous. Lily reluctantly agrees to this Pygmalion scheme to turn her into
a lady and present her to society.

At first, I had huge issues with Gideon's seeming shallowness in wanting a
society bride, and one who was so obviously frivolous and manipulative.
Ugh. How could you even like a hero who apparently had nothing to redeem
him other than being a successful barrister who took on many charity

But then Long slowly unfolds the layers, and you see pieces of Gideon
coming to light, from his desire to help his sister, to the man who reads
Keats behind legal tomes.

Long does a fabulous job of showing Gideon's struggle to stay true to his
Master Plan (tm), and his growing affection and love for Lily. Lily is
proud, resourceful, and intelligent, a storyteller who keeps her sister
entertained with fanciful fairy tales. She quickly learns the ropes to
being a lady in society (maybe a bit too easily). Lily is definitely more
aware of her own feelings towards Gideon. And, IMO, a bit too
self-sacrificing - knowing she's in love with a man whom she's helping to
secure a wife. I'd want to pound some sense in him myself and rip the
eyeballs from the other woman.

The end doesn't quite sit well with me (Lily's ultimate decision), hence
the B rating instead of an A. But I'll leave that for others to judge.
Despite my objection, the denouement was emotionally compelling and