For readers who love a little intrigue with their historical romances, A Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter and Lady Rogue by Theresa Romain are two great contenders for your keeper shelf.
TO CATCH A THIEF
Amanda Waverly has found an unlikely home with Lady Farnsworth. She’s taken up the unlikely position as the noblewoman’s secretary, joining a team of women as they work to publish a lady’s journal, Parnassus. But unbeknownst to the elevated society in which she’s found herself, Amanda left behind a rather scandalous upbringing as the prodigy of two thieves. When her past comes calling, Amanda is worried that her new life is in great jeopardy.
Gabriel St. James is handsome and possibly too nosy for his own good—the man loves a challenge. When he foils a mysterious and rather gorgeous thief’s con, he’s unable to rest until he discovers her true identity. His quest puts Amanda in a precarious position. If Gabriel finds out who she really is, the life she’s built will come crumbling down.
The complex Amanda, who’s been living two very different lives, is the star of the show. She slips back into the role of a thief as though it were a second skin. While she’s incredibly smart and capable, being lured back into her criminal past proves to be bittersweet. The friendships Amanda has formed with the other women working on Parnassus are heartwarming, and readers will come to crave any and all scenes where they’re together.
Gabriel is no pushover and practically oozes with charm. He is clearly used to getting what he wants, and what he wants is to know who exactly his new lover is. But up against Amanda, he may be in over his head. Their romance is sexy, with a fun cat-and-mouse vibe. Readers who can’t resist a heroine who is always one step ahead of the hero will want to read A Devil of a Duke immediately.
TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT
Lady Isabel Morrow is in quite a pickle when she discovers that her late husband’s precious artwork collection, much of which has already been sold, was full of forgeries. To complicate matters, Isabel is also responsible for her husband’s young cousin, Lucy. Should these forgeries be discovered, the potential scandal would ruin Lucy’s chances at making a suitable marriage. Isabel’s only recourse is to seek out her former lover and Bow Street Runner, Callum Jenks.
After the death of Isabel’s husband, Callum helped investigate its circumstances. His close contact with the young widow turned into something more, but their fling was short-lived and ended on good terms. Callum never expected to be thrust into Isabel’s life once more. As the son of a grocer, Callum knows he’s playing with fire by being around the well-known woman.
Callum agrees to help Isabel out, as a “friend” of course—he’d hate to see Isabel be scandalized by criminal activities of which she had no prior knowledge. Their best course of action is to replace the fakes with the originals, a monumental task that brings with it a very real sense of danger.
Lady Rogue isn’t your typical heist story. Rather than a cunning thief stealing precious works of art, Isabel is simply trying to restore her husband’s collection and get to the bottom of the forgeries’ origin. Callum obviously still carries a deep affection for Isabel, and the lengths to which he’d go to help her are very sweet. Isabel sees the art as the last tie to her past, and she’s looking for a fresh start. To discover this deception, when she’s so close to shedding all these things that have caused her such grief and an intense emotional burden, is incredibly sad for her. (Let Isabel be happy already!)
While A Devil of a Duke does a better job with the specific aspects of its crime, given the heroine is actually a thief, Lady Rogue has a more engrossing mystery with art forgeries and the strange death of Lady Isabel’s husband. If you love a good, caring beta hero making awkward flirtations around the heroine, Callum is the clear winner. Prefer winsome, silver-tongued rakes? Gabriel is your man! Though you certainly can’t go wrong with reading both books.