This is my first book by this author, but not the last! I'm busy lookingup the backlist and seeing what I need to get next book-buying binge :)To Love a Thiefby Julie Anne LongRegency HistoricalB+(For those of you who love standalones, this is one of them :)Synopsis:Gideon Cole, a successful barrister (career-wise, not necessarilyfinancially), has his sights set on the incomparable Constance Clary, thedaughter of a Marquis. Constance can bring him a title, wealth andprestige. Unfortunately, Constance has her eyes set on both Gideon andanother suitor and won't commit. Gideon strikes upon the idea of makingConstance jealous in order to win her hand, particularly when his plans tobuy the townhome his rival is planning to buy fails when he gives away the30 pounds downpayment to save a thief for Newgate.Lily Masters has been supporting herself and her younger sister as apickpocket, and she's a good one. Until she meets Gideon Cole and an angrymark who threatens to send her to Newgate. In return for paying off themark, Gideon demands that Lily play his new interest to make Constancejealous. Lily reluctantly agrees to this Pygmalion scheme to turn her intoa lady and present her to society.At first, I had huge issues with Gideon's seeming shallowness in wanting asociety bride, and one who was so obviously frivolous and manipulative.Ugh. How could you even like a hero who apparently had nothing to redeemhim other than being a successful barrister who took on many charitycases.But then Long slowly unfolds the layers, and you see pieces of Gideoncoming to light, from his desire to help his sister, to the man who readsKeats behind legal tomes.Long does a fabulous job of showing Gideon's struggle to stay true to hisMaster Plan (tm), and his growing affection and love for Lily. Lily isproud, resourceful, and intelligent, a storyteller who keeps her sisterentertained with fanciful fairy tales. She quickly learns the ropes tobeing a lady in society (maybe a bit too easily). Lily is definitely moreaware of her own feelings towards Gideon. And, IMO, a bit tooself-sacrificing - knowing she's in love with a man whom she's helping tosecure a wife. I'd want to pound some sense in him myself and rip theeyeballs from the other woman.The end doesn't quite sit well with me (Lily's ultimate decision), hencethe B rating instead of an A. But I'll leave that for others to judge.Despite my objection, the denouement was emotionally compelling andsniffling-worthy.