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 successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his 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 trinkets and 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, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?
Title: The Gentleman and the Thief
Series: Proper Victorian Romance #2
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Genre: Historical Romance
Date Finished: November 2, 2020
What’s interesting about the format of the books in this series is that, when something notable happens in one of the penny dreadfuls, you know something notable is going to happen in the following chapter of the main story—you just don’t know what exactly. If the penny dreadful ends in a blood-curdling scream, you’re left sitting on the edge of your seat in anxiety, waiting to see what happens to our hero or heroine. It’s all very clever.
What’s especially remarkable about the way Eden has once again written and intertwined three different stories is that they are all written in distinct voices, as if they each had a different author.
I like the tongue-in-cheek nature that Eden has employed in this series, as well. The couple always thinks they’re mismatched. One’s respectable, while the other is not. In Hollis and Ana’s case: a respectable gentleman and a sneaky thief…or a penny dreadful writer who’s part of a secret vigilante society and a respectable lady who has found herself on hard times.
As for the characters themselves, I really liked them. Ana slips penny dreadfuls to her students who struggle with reading! So she’s a true heroine in my book. That said, I do wish we had gotten more background. Yes, she’s great at sneaking around and can act well when the situation calls for it, but I want to see her journey to get there. I think there could have been a flashback or a reminiscent story of her first theft and what ultimately moved her to do it—something to make it all more believable.
Hollis is an absolute sweetheart. With Ana and Eloise especially. I love him. However…I wanted more exposition concerning the romance between him and Ana. It seemed like everything just fell into place too easily. I wanted more of a risk of heartbreak, some moment where things might not work out.
This is my least favorite of Eden’s books I’ve read so far, but I still think it was good! That I’ve gotten nitpicky with this review just shows how well she writes in general. I definitely recommend this series!