Being an avid fan of Ms. Roberts finding the treasure of one of her books that I hadn’t heard of was awesome. I tend to get audio books because my reading is limited to an hour or so a night, but with books on tape I have 8 hours at work to listen.
The book begins with a magic show being performed, tiger and all by red haired Roxanne Nouvelle. After the show, she is goes to her dressing room where she is told that there is company. Her obvious ex-lover Luke Callahan is waiting for her. After a brief tussle they find themselves on the floor as he tries to explain himself.
Then the book flashes back to when he was 12. He was a pick pocket a local fair. A runaway. He goes to see the magic show of The Nouvelle family and the troop leader, Max takes him in and under his wing. Roxanne is a child probably 8 or 9 ( I honestly can’t remember).
Max and his troop are jewel thieves. Lilly, Max’s wife doesn’t participate, but it shows how Max new that Luke would be a good addition to the show and that Luke was a pick pocket as well. However, these thieves have standards. They never steal form someone they know or someone that can’t afford it. Further it is revealed that Luke ran away because of horrific abuse, which Max himself understands having been a victim himself. Luke at that moment becomes Max’s son in his eyes and Max Luke’s father.
The book then progresses a few years to when another homeless waif wanders in Sam Wyatt. He, for some reason, hates Luke. Steals his girlfriend and then uses Roxanne’s childlike innocence to steal from people they know. Max is furious and turns Sam out. Before he goes, Sam lies in wait for Roxanne. He takes the very young girl into an alley and just as he is about too, well the book is never clear about just what he was going to do. At first it was beat her I think but that changed.. Anyway Luke saves the day. Sam vows revenge.
As the book progresses further Luke and Roxanne develop a romantic love between them but loyalty to Max and a feeling like it is almost incestual keep Luke from acting on it. His abuser shows up and starts to black mail him. Later Max is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and obviously Luke and Roxanne act on their feelings. I am not going to spoil the ending of the book. But with vengeance, blackmail, burglary, magic and almost forbidden romance going on one would think this would be a great story. It is, for the most part but I did have a few issues.
First, it drags. REALLY drags. I found by the time they had gotten to the black mail part I was going yeah yeah get to the scene where we left off. I even had to replay it by the time we got to it. I think a few of the minor scenes could have been cut. Although I can see that they were put in to help the reader grow attached to some of the members of the troop.
Second, I did sort of have an issue with Luke and Roxanne. I REALLY had an issue with Max and Lilly being ok with it, especially in scenes where they called Luke their son. In fact in some scenes they were encouraging it and if they had really seen Luke that way, or if he had seen it that way, this romance wouldn’t have happened. In fact they are brother/sister types right up until Roxanne is like 16 and then BLAM he’s wanting her and she’s teasing him. It just bothered me. I know technically there is nothing wrong as they never adopted Luke but still.
Third, they could have had more heists in to illustrate the strengths of each member of the team. When the final heist went down I was sort of at a loss to understand what everyone did.
Last and this is a bit of a spoiler, but since I already said he had Alzhimers… Max’s death was brushed over and we got highlights of the funeral and Roxanne’s grief. In fact a whole plot of the last heist was to steal this one thing that Max had always looked for and in one sentence they announced that he died holding it. Described it a bit then said they buried it with him. That was it and it had been a plot point for like a quarter of the book.
However, the book is beautifully written as always. The love scenes were a bit steamier and a bit more frequent than I am used to from Ms. Roberts, but it wasn’t over the top. The love affair between Roxanne and Luke is GREAT when it finally happens. Max and Lilly are darling and still in love after all the years. Le Clerc is hilarious. Mouse is adorable. I liked the ending, for the most part. The villain was not only a Psychopathic Narcissist, but a politician. (Please try to refrain from sputtering in laughter over the Irony 😉 ). The heists are exhilarating, wish there were more of them. Over all a good read, but not one of Nora’s best I am afraid. Still, I am glad that I found it and took the time to read it.