My Favorite Thief
Although I’ve enjoyed the characters Karyn Monk created for this series, the execution of their stories falls a little flat. I looked forward to this story, as the heroine, Charlotte, is one of the most interesting of the recurring characters. But one of my least favorite plot devices (a blackmail plot) ruined what could have been an excellent read. (Note: although this book was published after The Wedding Escape, the events actually take place eight years before that story.)
Charlotte Kent is not your average society miss. Not only is she a former thief who spent time in prison (even though she was only nine years old at the time), she is crippled and has trouble walking. It is only because her foster parents have a high social status that she and her foster siblings are accepted at all. Her sisters made advantageous marriages, but Charlotte is running a house for reformed prostitutes and young thieves that doesn’t bring her any respect from the aristocracy.
At a dinner party one evening, Charlotte happens upon a thief stealing the hostess’ jewels. Instead of screaming, running or anything else one would expect from a lady, she gives the thief some pointers. When the burglary goes awry, she helps him make his escape, as his hostage. (Can you say poor judgment?)
Harrison Payne, the earl of Bryden, is getting too old to play the “Dark Shadow,” sneaking in and out of houses for jewels. This is evidenced by the latest debacle involving an innocent woman helping him with his caper. In the ensuing chaos after her abduction, Harry is shot, and without Charlotte’s help, would have certainly ended up in jail.
Harry has a particular reason for his escapades, and is drawn to the kind and unconventional Charlotte. Then she turns around and blackmails him for a large sum of money to keep his identity a secret. She refuses to reveal why she needs the money, and says she cannot ask her family for help, even though they are financially well-off.
This is where the plot weakens. Charlotte’s horrible past comes back to haunt her, and anyone would be scared. But she’s been surrounded by a loving family for years now and one simple word from her about what was happening would have resolved the situation. The villain in the story really isn’t powerful enough to withstand all her brothers, her father, and Harry. By the time Charlotte realizes this fact, a large portion of the book has been wasted worrying over the problem.
Much more interesting to me was the “Dark Shadow.” Harry’s secret could destroy his family, and watching that story unfold, as well as Charlotte’s reaction to Harry’s life, provided a great deal more entertainment than Charlotte’s villain. In addition, the blackmail plot did not showcase Charlotte at her best. She turned from a strong, interesting woman into a scared rabbit, running from one trap to another to escape her past. Her refusal to ask for any help made her seem stubborn and nonsensical.
Eventually, Charlotte comes to her senses and reveals her secret to Harry. At this point, the two truly come together to work as a team and the book once again grabbed my attention. The resolution of Harry’s secret comes as no surprise for the discerning reader, but it provides a nice secondary romance for one of Charlotte’s “girls.”
Although I ultimately enjoyed My Favorite Thief, it was an uneven read and I cannot truly recommend it. Fans of this series will probably want to take a look, but new readers would be better served to look elsewhere for a better example of this author’s work.