Monday, July 4, 2016

Review: A Gift for Guile by Alissa Johnson

A Gift for Guile by Alissa Johnson
Series: The Thief-takers, Book 2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781492620532
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Never Trust a Thief

Once a famous officer of Scotland Yard and now a renowned private detective, Sir Samuel Brass has better things to do than shadow a reckless hellion in her misguided quest for atonement. But when the daughter of a notorious criminal–and a former thief herself–returns to London to right an old wrong, Samuel is drawn back into the dangerously exciting world of Esther Walker-Bales.

Beautiful and conniving, maddening and brilliant, Esther is everything he shouldn’t want. She’s a liar. She’s a con. She’s a thief. And God help him, but he’d do anything to keep her safe.

Esther knows she’s put herself in terrible danger, but nothing will stop her from making amends that are long past due–not her family’s enemies, not old fears, and certainly not the domineering, interfering and undeniably handsome Sir Samuel Brass. Yet whenever he’s near, Samuel makes her long for a life that can never be hers...and wish she were worthy of being saved.

A former thief steals the heart of a famous private detective in A Gift for Guile. I’m not an easy sell when it comes to opposites attracting, but Alissa Johnson won me over with this enchanting second installment of the Thief-takers series.

Esther is a former thief determined to make amends. She was used as an accomplice by her father when she was younger, manipulated by him because she was so desperate for his love. Her past brings her shame and she’s desperate to be a better person, but at the same time doesn’t believe she can be one. No one has ever put her first, has ever seen her as anything more than a filler until someone better comes along. She’s used to playing roles, slips into them so easily in order to win others over, but it broke my heart how badly Esther simply wanted to be seen and loved for her true self, though she doesn’t wholly know who that is. It’s delightful that Samuel, a somewhat-staid former police officer turned private investigator, is the person who sees Esther the most clearly.

Samuel is an honorable man with a soul-deep need to protect others. It drives him mad that the woman he falls for isn’t one who will sit quietly and let him guard her when she’s in trouble. Of course, that’s what makes A Gift for Guile so much fun. Esther is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but she’s not superhuman and can see that Samuel has talents that complement her own. Whether they’re investigating a mysterious potential threat to Esther’s family or falling head over heels in love with one another, Samuel and Esther are great together. The energy between them crackles and I can’t count the number of times they made me smile. Of course, being perfect for each other doesn’t make things easy. Esther is quick to take offense because she’s scared of opening herself up to more hurt, and Samuel is adorably terrible with words. Esther has to accept her past in order to risk her heart for a chance at love, and Samuel has to be patient and temper his need to protect by acknowledging Esther’s abilities. They banter, they bicker, and they fall in love in the most charming, romantic way. I absolutely adored these two together, simple as that.

Ms. Johnson weaves in a mystery involving Esther’s past and a potential new threat into the story of Samuel and Esther’s burgeoning romance. The added element of danger enhances the story and keeps A Gift for Guile moving at a quick clip. There’s simply nothing I didn’t enjoy about Esther, Samuel, and their lovely romance. Like the first Thief-takers book, A Talent for Trickery, A Gift for Guile is engaging and the sparks that fly between the leads make the pages of the story fly by. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Johnson has in store for readers with the next Thief-takers book!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.