Meh, but more on that later.
There are a lot of large men in period romance novels: tall, dark, and handsome, with historically-inaccurate muscle definition. Excellent traits all. I’m a woman of average height and I’ve never dated anyone tall, although it has a definite appeal. Feeling petite is one of those things I just know I would delight in. The heroine of To Love a Thief, Jocelyn, is a tiny little thing who just manages comes up to the middle of the hero’s chest, so about like this –
which is totally fine, but I always wonder about the upright kissing. Romance authors like to say that the characters “fit perfectly”, or are “pressed along each others length”, but what are the practical considerations of this height differential? My former boss was about 6’4″, and when I hugged him goodbye, I stood on tiptoe and barely cleared his shoulder; moreover, the heroine is always putting her arms around the hero’s neck. Is that even possible from a standing start? He would have to bend over and therefore away from her to reach, right? I want to read a romance with a running joke that the hero is always making sure the heroine is on a step, or he sits down on the edge of a piece of furniture, or simply lifts her straight up (swoon) to deal with the issue. And don’t even get me started on the impossibility of certain positions with such a pronounced height difference. He’d throw his back out. It’s contrary to the laws of physics, no matter how historically-inaccurate his muscles are. No one could vigorously squat or, conversely, stand on tiptoe for that long. This is what gnaws at me while I read these books. Well, this and “aren’t they freezing?”; “just how big is this bed?”; and “that’s not really feasible with the bathtub you just described”.
In To Love a Thief, Jocelyn Renwick is on the shelf, but still in circulation. Her only season was cut short by a series of unfortunate events, including a traumatic burglary and her father’s death. Two years later, she has returned to society as a lady’s paid companion. During her absence Daniel Carlyle, a former constable, inherited a title and has devoted himself to learning his new duties and to navigate the world he has joined, aided by his close friends Lord and Lady Aldridge. When first they meet, Daniel is captivated, but Jocelyn is distracted by Lady Aldridge’s necklace. It is identical, down to a surface scratch, to one that was stolen from her home.
Jocelyn sets out to retrieve/steal her family heirlooms from the Aldridges and Daniel catches her in the act. They work at odds, and then together, to solve the really quite obvious mystery of Lord Aldridge’s nefarious activities. There is some traipsing through London’s underworld, villainous mustache twirling, and a beleaguered household staff that keeps getting tied up. None of it is very exciting or fresh, and I admit to having perused certain portions rather quickly.
I don’t know if Darcy Burke is a new author, but the writing feels like she is. There were occasional flashes of potential, but overall it was pretty flat. The main problem was that the reader is told Daniel and Jocelyn have fallen in love rather than being shown. For obvious reasons, the ability to convey attraction and emotion is essential to success in this genre.
To Love a Thief was free for Kindle on Amazon; I downloaded it as one of several such items. It’s a clever marketing ploy, if it gets you to buy more of the writer’s work. It won’t, but I can’t blame Burke, or her publisher, for trying.
Julie Anne Long also has a historical romance called To Love a Thief and it is delightful.