The Lady is a Thief
Years ago, Owen Renderwell earned acclaim—and a title—for the dashing rescue of a kidnapped duchess. But only a select few knew that Scotland Yard’s most famous detective was working alongside London’s most infamous thief…and his criminally brilliant daughter, Charlotte Walker.
Lottie was like no other woman in Victorian England. She challenged him. She dazzled him. She questioned everything he believed and everything he was, and he has never wanted anyone more. And then he lost her.
Now a private detective on the trail of a murderer, Owen has stormed back into Lottie’s life. She knows that no matter what they may pretend, he will always be a man of the law and she a criminal. Yet whenever he’s near, Owen has a way of making things complicated…and long for a future that can never be theirs.
Opening a series set in Victorian England, Johnson (Destined to Last) displays her talent for depicting families whose relationships balance antagonistic frustration and well-meaning warmth. Viscount Owen Renderwell, once one of Scotland Yard's greatest thief-takers, arrives at the secret home of Charlotte "Lottie" Walker, whose father, Walter, was a thief turned informant who recently died. Owen hopes to search Walter's journals for clues to encrypted letters found where a London madam was murdered, but needs the support of his old crush Lottie. She hates Owen for his role in her father's death, and she wishes to hide her family's criminal past from her younger brother, Peter, as well as keeping the details of her own involvement from Owen. Night work on secret codes brings Lottie and Owen enticingly close, but a stalker in the woods leads Owen to dedicate himself to catching the criminal, while young Peter is determined to take on a man's protective role. The romantic thread is never lost, though it sometimes takes a backseat to plot, and the leads' blend of cleverness and stubbornness makes their push-pull dynamic a joy.
A wonderful introduction to the series
A Victorian setting that delves into the darker confines of London’s criminals, this introductory book from Alissa Johnson manages to balance romance, mystery and action with the familiar (and not so) elements characteristic of the time.
Owen Renderwell is a former Scotland Yard detective now working in the private sector. His connections and honest dealings with criminals and the law-abiding public alike provided him with information that rescued a titled woman from kidnappers, and brought him acclaim. His relationship with the most notorious thief in London will come into play again, now with that man’s daughter, as he is again embroiled in a case that could have murderous results.
Charlotte (Lottie) Walker’s father was a thief, and taught her everything she knows. Intelligent, daring and beautiful, she isn’t expecting, but is not surprised to find the detective again at her door in need of help. Now all grown up, their attraction is palpable, but their own personal agendas and adherence to the laws of the land prove to be large stumbling blocks.
Purporting to be a loving couple opens doors that neither expected, nor wanted. Clearly illustrated, Johnson brings us into their thoughts, worries, dreams and concerns as the plot thickens and danger becomes more ‘personal’, and their attraction proves to be more than just for show.
Both of these characters are wonderfully built and voiced, and well-matched despite the rather large gap that defines their adherence to the law. While Lottie seems fairly comfortable and confident in her choices, it is Owen who wavers and wonders if he could, indeed, make allowances for his law-abiding nature to keep the pretty thief for his own. Plenty of moments that have both wavering as they work through the whodunit, and when danger threatens, all bets are off, including restraint.
A wonderful introduction to the series that manages to not let any one element of the plot overwhelm and gives the characters time to grow and develop in the relationship, and to see what possibilities are open for them together. Dialogue peppers the story adding elements of humor, showing Lottie’s quick wit and ability to challenge Owen, and gives a sense of the time and place. Secondary characters and world building add to the feel, and while some moments move slower than I would have liked, the story maintains interest and engagement with some fairly heavy issues to tackle.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This is brilliant. I wanted to hate it for rubbing salt into my own trust issues, but I loved every word on every page. This author recognizes the terrible nuance of romance and exploits the same ruthlessly. I can’t wait to read every thing she’s ever written.