Okay, before I begin this review, let me say that I was biased in reading this book, as Andrea Kane is one of my favorites. The Theft is a spin-off of the first story of hers that I read, Yuletide Treasure, which appeared in the Christmas anthology, Gift of Love. As an added bonus, The Theft includes the family from another book of hers I really liked, The Last Duke. That said, The Theft is vintage Kane, and thoroughly entertaining.
Noelle Bromleigh, the precocious child from Yuletide Treasure, has grown up and is interested in her natural father. Her father, the man who raised her, agrees that, on her 18th birthday, he will give her the information she seeks. He does, and she sets off to seek her birth father.
On the way there, she meets Ashford Thornton when he shares her railroad car with her. Ashford (I kept thinking this was his last name) is an insurance investigator looking into the theft of a painting. He suspects Noelle’s birth father of the crime, and is on his way to see him. Each is intrigued with the other, and a relationship begins.
The villain in The Theft, is ostensibly Noelle’s father. While he is pretty bad, as Yoda says — “there is another.” It’s not terribly hard to figure out who it is, but it’s also not that important until the end. The story moves along at a nice pace, and it was so nice to see beloved characters from previous novels. Some authors can overdo in catching you up with the family, but the story is dominated by Ashford and Noelle.
One of my favorite things about Kane’s work is the way the hero and heroine fall in love at least halfway through, and then stay together. There are no put-em-together-rip-em-apart manipulations, and any impediment to the relationship is usually an external conflict, one that doesn’t take long to get worked out. I always have a problem with the love at first sight bit, but I’m beginning to be able to accept it a little more, especially in historicals when marriages were so often arranged.
Another thing that usually appeals to me about Kane’s characters is that they’re forthright, honorable and honest, but all that perfection occasionally makes me wish there was a little flaw or a dark edge. Not too much, just a little. I suppose in Ashford, that might apply to his "other" life as a thief, the revived Tin Cup Bandit.
Noelle is just as admirable and perfect. Honest, forthright, blunt and a little reckless. If you’re not a fan of the heroine haring off to help, Noelle may get on your nerves. This doesn’t bother me, but I know some people can’t stand it.
Noelle’s father plays a prominent part in the story, but only that of a father protecting his daughter. Kane says in the author’s note that she has discovered more Thornton and Bromleigh siblings who are engraved in her heart and mind. I can’t wait until they demand to have their stories told. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to reread Yuletide Treasure and The Last Duke. ‘Till next time!