Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden (Review)

This is the second book in the The Dread Penny Society series. A fun book with an interesting premise and good characters. And it's part of the Proper Romance series, too.

Book Details:

Book Title: The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden
Category: Adult Fiction, 368 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Proper Romance
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release date: November 3, 2020
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

A standalone novel in The Dread Penny Society set in 1865 London brimming with secrets, scandal, suspense, and romance.

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 business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced the family 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 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, but working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I loved the premise of this novel...the title, the book cover, the secrets, the banter between characters ...but I have to admit I struggled through some of it. Let me tell you what I liked the most: the characters, especially Very Merry, followed by Hollis, the perfect gentleman with a big heart. Ana, his love interest, was sweet, but only toward the middle of the novel do we see her courage and cunning. Both these characters owned their station in life and worked to better themselves instead of wallowing in self-pity because of their family's losses.

Although this seems to be a standalone novel, it is the second novel about the members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the social and political causes of their working-class readers. So these characters didn't get too much of an introduction, probably because they were introduced in the first novel titled The Lady and the Highwayman, which I didn't read. I thought this 'Society with a cause' was a fun premise for a novel, and I liked the friendship among these characters.

What kept me reading was the spy network and the whole mystery surrounding the villains that perpetrated crimes through urchin thieves and gambling. But I was disappointed when these villains were not more fleshed out and better yet, were not caught! No resolution to the story. Probably because the story will continue in the next book? *sigh*

Also, this novel contains two penny dreadful stories told throughout the book in alternating chapters. So in essence this novel is much shorter because of these other unnecessary stories thrown in that only served to slow down and interrupt the pace of the novel itself. I found them distracting (although they were good stories, just not what I wanted to read) and I finally ended up skimming through them. In my opinion, they could have been omitted altogether and more time could have been dedicated to building the relationship between Hollis and Ana, and fleshing out those villains. 

Finally, there isn't much of a romance although the couple hold hands, hug and even cuddle when there is no understanding of a courtship between them. I was getting mixed messages. Were they a couple or not? There is no tension and passion between this couple, only tender affection. I had no idea if Ana had any romantic feelings toward Hollis until the very end. They acted more like friends who suddenly are in love, or even...dare I say it, an old married couple. *sigh*

A fun book with an interesting premise and good characters, but a bit skimpy on heart-stopping romance and villainous adventure.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of witty and charming historical romances, including 2019’s Foreword Reviews INDIE Awards Gold Winner for Romance, The Lady and the Highwayman, and 2020 Holt Medallion finalist, Healing Hearts. She is a two-time “Best of State” Gold Medal winner for fiction and a three-time Whitney Award winner. Combining her obsession with history and her affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting deep characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library.

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  1. LOL "an old married couple". I'd want a bit more yearning in a book like this. Still, since its a stand alone I'll note the title. Thanks for sharing!

    1. That's right, the "yearning" between lovers that we long for when we read romance books was missing. It was a fun book nonetheless.

  2. I really like the premise of this book, but it sounds like it doesn't quite live up the promise. I'd probably also end up skimming the secondary penny dreadful storyline.

    1. Some readers liked the penny dreadful stories within the book, so you might too.

  3. thanks for sharing your wonderful review. doesn't really sound like a fit for me
    sherry @ fundinmental

  4. This sounds so promising! I dislike when there's no real resolution though. Maybe I'll look for the first one and see what I think from there.

    1. I read reviews from the first book and it was a hit, so I think you'll enjoy it.

  5. Good review. It still sounds like a fun, light book I would enjoy.
    Thanks for sharing.


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