Desert Isle Keeper
An Honorable Thief
I tried to finish Anne Gracie’s An Honorable Thief while walking up a hill on the way to work this morning but couldn’t manage it. So, I did what anyone in my position would do; I sat out in front of my office building until I had finished. It couldn’t be helped, you see – I simply could not bear to let the book sit on my desk all day taunting me to sneak off to the ladies room and finish it. As I can’t read and walk without getting a headache, this is a significant turn of events, particularly when you consider that I trip over my own feet when I’m not paying attention where I’m walking! While I’ve enjoyed Regency-set stories in the past, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of them. Anne Gracie could very well turn me into a convert.
Kit Singleton was raised in exile by her father, a gambler, petty thief, and overall HHB (horrible human being). He manages to extract a deathbed promise from her to return to London and put into action some revenge scheme he’s concocted. At first Kit refuses, but capitulates in the hope that this will finally earn her father’s love and respect. Alas, he dies wishing for the son that died at birth (Kit’s mom also died while giving birth to the stillborn son) and with no words for his daughter.
Once returned to London, Kit lives with her “aunt” Rose, whom she believes to be her father’s former paramour since he’d told her they had no family. Kit is brought into society as a young heiress and immediately catches the eye of Lord Norwood and his mother, who are looking for an way to settle their debts and live in style. A diamond mine heiress would be just the thing! Lady Norwood’s relative, Hugo Devenish, feels that there is something amiss about Kit and is determined to find out about this supposed diamond mine she owns.
Hugo is not your average man of the ton. His parents died when he was young and with no one willing to take care of him, he was forced to go to sea. Hugo is the epitome of the self made man; he managed to make a good deal of money in shipping and is now quite wealthy. He’s not titled and some people of the ton do look down on him for that. While he was once spurned by a woman, we don’t hear ad nauseum how all women are evil, how he must avoid them at all costs, and how they cannot be trusted. His theories on the truth of Kit’s past are not based on his hatred of womankind but on the fact that things just don’t add up where she’s concerned. That was refreshing.
Kit and Hugo spend a lot of time involved in verbal parrying and thrusting. She is determined to not let him at the truth of who she really is and he is just as determined to figure out what she’s up to. Kit has promised to seek vengeance against the men who purportedly ruined her father’s life and forced him into exile, and though she gets no enjoyment from doing it, feels honor bound to keep her promise. Hugo realizes that Kit is not all she seems; one moment she’s playing a dimwitted young girl and the next she’s successfully fending off robbers in the park. He does manage to figure out exactly what’s going on, but in a purely believable way. He looks at everything he knows about her, information he has gleaned about her father’s past, and clues she’s left. Then he puts two and two together.
Despite everything she’s done, Hugo has a need to protect her and keep her safe and offers her marriage. Kit is horrified and responds that she is not for the likes of him. He is shattered by her reaction and we see very clearly that he is a very lonely man desperate to make human connections. Of course what Kit really means is that she is not good enough for him but Hugo doesn’t see it that way. He feels he has finally found someone who belongs to him and to whom he belongs. My heart broke for Hugo and it was at this point that I fell head over feet for him. His outward appearance of stoicism is an act to keep from getting hurt and from showing people his vulnerability. In Kit, he has found a kindred spirit. One who wants a home and a family as much as he does. Still, our hero does not give up without a fight!
I adored Hugo and Kit and I couldn’t wait for them to get their HEA. Kit is bright and has a big heart despite the circumstances she has been thrown into. She’s brave and smart, and all she has ever wanted is a stable home and love. She has a keen sense of her own survival as well, and she also possesses some talents that are not typical of young heiresses in those days.
Author Gracie lives up to her reputation for creating enjoyable secondary characters as well. Maggie Bone, Kit’s maid, was wonderful – and the story of how she came to work for Kit is very touching. It was nice to see her get her own happily ever after. Kit’s “aunt” Rose is also a lovely character and there is quite the plot twist involving her. I swear I teared up on the bus when I got to it. The last 90 odd pages of this book held me in thrall and are what changed a solid B+ grade to an A. I definitely went on an emotional roller coaster with this one.
Whether you are a fan of the Regency era or not, this book is a wonderful way to spend an evening or two. Kudos to Anne Gracie, she’s turned out another wonderful story!