Friday, June 2, 2017

Stealing Mr. Right (Tamara Morgan)

Stealing Mr. Right
(The Penelope Blue series, Book 1)
Tamara Morgan
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Fiction, Romance
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: After her thief father disappeared when she was fifteen, Penelope Blue managed to scrape together a meager yet dishonest life using the skills he taught her, not to mention the help of fellow accomplices Jordan, Oz, and Riker. Together, they become the family she never had. When a persistent and disturbingly handsome FBI agent, Grant Emerson, started sniffing around their operation, costing them more than one score, Penelope decided he needed watching... extra-close watching.
Which is how she wound up married to Grant.
He knows she's a thief, and a talented one at that. She knows he has access to federal records on her father, and possibly a line on the missing millions the man was reputed to have stashed away before he vanished. It's a tense game of cat and mouse - and now, with her sights set on a very special diamond necklace, it may finally be coming to an end. Because only a fool could ever believe that a jewel thief and a federal agent could find true love in the middle of such a web of lies, and whatever else Penelope Blue may be, she's nobody's fool.

REVIEW: This book sucked me in with a fast pace, intriguing premise, and clever heroine voice, starting in the middle of a jewelry heist that quickly goes awry. Cutting back and forth between the present robbery (and subsequent complications) and the past, from Penelope's first encounter with Grant through their courtship and marriage, it keeps up a decent pace while introducing the cast of quirky characters, who tend toward tropes but are nonetheless engagingly written. Early on, Penelope and Grant are fairly evenly matched, both engaged in a complicated, teasing dance in which neither openly admits knowing the deceptions their relationship is based upon, while both have been overcome by genuine feelings neither anticipated. As the tale winds on, though, the wheels begin to wobble. Penelope slowly ceases to be a clever thief and becomes a generally naive woman who never quite grew up, who is surrounded by masculine protectors that she resents, but which she clearly needs to survive. Because a girl growing up on the streets, living by theft, is never going to be able to take care of herself without a big, strong man to do the hard stuff... As the climax unfolds, several (frequently telegraphed) revelations come out that essentially undercut much of Penelope's remaining agency and independence, in addition to just plain not making sense if you think about them much. (No details, as they constitute spoilers, but they induced several eye-rolls and incredulous groans, plus more than one head-thump against the Kindle cover in disappointment.) On top of that, a large portion of the Kindle title was simply advertising for the next installment, meaning the book itself was shorter than it appeared. I was so dissatisfied that I almost dropped the rating another half-star, but the decent character voice of Penelope Blue, not to mention some snappy interplay between the characters (before the flop of an ending), kept it afloat (if barely) at a flat three-star Okay.

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Scoundrel for Hire (Adrienne DeWolfe) - My Review
Concrete Evidence (Rachel Grant) - My Review

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