Welcome to “Sarah reads the second book in a series before she reads the first” once again. How many times will I do this? The limit does not exist.
But here we are and y’all know I can’t stay away from a historical fiction or a lady thief, so when I got the email about this book, I was like YES PLEASE!
So let’s talk The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden.
The Gentleman and the Thief: Proper Romance Victorian
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Series: Book 2 in The Dread Penny Society
Genre: Historical Mystery/Suspense, Victorian Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (November 3, 2020)
Length: (368) pages
A standalone novel in The Dread Penny Society set in 1865 London brimming with secrets, scandal, suspense, and romance.
From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.
Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.
When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.
When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?
“The real joy in Eden’s follow-up to The Lady and the Highwayman (2019) is the furthering of the overarching crime story and the work of the Dread Penny Society as Hollis and Ana pursue a chaste romance. Eden excels at exploring the realities of Victorian life and class differences. Once again, chapters of penny dreadfuls written by the characters are interspersed throughout, with Hollis’ story about a school for ghosts offering particular delight. Fans of Eden’s smart series will be thrilled and impatient for the next installment.”— Booklist, starred review
“Every time I thought my racing heart just couldn’t take the suspense anymore, I’d turn the page and smile.”— Bookconfessions
“Eden writes it well, so thoroughly researched that you’re transported and in Victoria England. Great suspense and romance.”— Leslie, Books and Socks Rock
“Undeniably clever, suspenseful, well-researched, and deftly written…”— Katie Jackson, RegencyProofreading.com
“Charming, suggestive, and featuring rich historical details, The Gentleman and the Thief has the elements of a gritty, juicy penny dreadful.”— Foreword Reviews
The Gentleman and The Thief is all about Hollis and Ana, who they are on their own, and who they are together. Hollis is the gentleman in this story but that doesn’t mean he lives a stuffy, boring life. He also secretly fights crime with his friends in the Dead Penny Society and secretly writes penny dreadful stories under the penname Lafayette Jones.
Ana, on the other hand, is the thief. But she doesn’t steal just anything, she steals back what was taken from her family when they fell into financial ruin. So…a thief, but a noble one. Ana is also a teacher and a musician. She also happenes to have a secret.
While it’s know that her family is in borderline poverty, what isn’t known is that her father still lives in her family home. But it’s not him living there that’s the secret, it’s the fact that only one room is fit enough to live in and the rest of the house and furnishings have fallen into disarray.
This makes Hollis and quite a few of his friends from the Dread Penny Society visiting and using it as a headquarters of sorts quite anxiety-inducing for Ana. What will they think of her when they see it? Luckily, Hollis and his friends are no strangers to the darker sides of life.
Together, Hollis and Ana are quite the team and work to take down a gambling den that is assaulting and ruining the men (and their families) that take their chances at the game tables. The situation becomes even more dire when someone close to Hollis is attacked.
They use their individual skills (Hollis’s ability to blend in with the upper class and how good he is at gambling, and Ana’s ability to sneak in just about anywhere) and some help from their friends to infiltrate the secret club. But will they make it out ok? You’ll have to read to find out.
OK, let’s talk formatting because OH. MY GOD. This book is one of the most uniquely formatted I’ve ever read. In between the chapters showing us what Ana and Hollis are up to are actual penny dreadful stories written by characters in the book. When I realized this was happening, I almost lost it. I love it so much. I love when an author surprises me with something I never thought of.
I also loved the supporting characters in the story. Fletcher, Elizabeth, Brogan, Stone,and Móirín all had their own personalities and were fun to see as they popped up throughout the stories.
I would have liked a little more buildup before Hollis and Ana understood that they liked each other. It felt like they met and then BOOM, they had feelings for each other, but that could be because this was a second book. Maybe there were a few small moments in the first one. Either way, it wasn’t anything that bothered me too much.
There was also at least one moment where I didn’t want to escape into the penny dreadful story and just wanted to stay with the main narrative. Nothing too big a deal.
If you love historical romances with a side of mystery, you should definitely check out The Gentleman and the Thief. The romance, Ana’s thieving, and the job inside the gambling den are all very intriguing. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden is available now!
Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of witty and charming historical romances, including 2019’s Foreword Reviews INDIE Awards Gold Winner for Romance, The Lady and the Highwayman, and 2020 Holt Medallion finalist, Healing Hearts. She is a two-time “Best of State” Gold Medal winner for fiction and a three-time Whitney Award winner. Combining her obsession with history and her affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting deep characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library.
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