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A Gift for Guile: 2 (The Thief-takers, 2) Paperback – Import, 5 August 2016
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She's a liar.
She's a con.
She's a thief.
And God help him, but he'll do anything to keep her safe.
Beautiful and conniving, maddening and brilliant, Esther is everything private detective Samuel Brass shouldn't want. Esther knows she's put herself in terrible danger, but nothing will stop her from making amends―not her family's enemies, not old fears, and certainly not the domineering, interfering, and undeniably handsome former officer of the Scotland Yard. 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.
Second in an exciting late Victorian romance series from a RITA Award nominee!
Thief Takers Series:
A Talent for Trickery, Book 1
A Gift for Guile, Book 2
Dangerous Deceit, Coming Soon
"From the first page, Johnson seizes readers' attention… Losing none of her witty dialogue or clever plotting, she pulls readers this way and that as the story swiftly turns from suspense to romance and back again."―RT Book Reviews on A Talent for Trickery
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"Johnson draws readers into an intriguing mystery romance as disparate characters join forces to combat the demons of their pasts. The quick pace, sexual tension, touch of poignancy and the well-drawn backdrop seamlessly merge, allowing her characters and their conflict to take center stage." - RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
"The second installment in Johnson's beguiling Thief Taker series (A Talent for Trickery, 2015) is another superbly written historical romance that will win over readers with its engaging characters and a skillfully constructed plot that deftly mingles equal measures of danger and desire." - Booklist
"A Gift for Guile is an engaging romance that makes for a quick and enjoyable read." - Historical Novel Review
About the Author
Alissa Johnson is a RITA nominated author of historical romance. She grew up on Air Force bases, and attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She currently resides in the Arkansan Ozarks where she spends her free time keeping her Aussie dog busy, visiting with family, and dabbling in archery.
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- Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca (5 August 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 149262053X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1492620532
- Item Weight : 181 g
- Dimensions : 12.7 x 2.34 x 17.78 cm
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from other countries
When Sir Samuel Brass realizes that Esther has come out of her secluded life in the country to London where she is posing as a widow, he knows he has trouble on his hands. With Esther, there's more than meets the eye and she's not one who can be expected to stay where she was planted in safety. No, she has a background which begs the curious girl that she was and the lady she has become, to learn the mysteries of her antecedents. Although Will Walker recognized her as his daughter, she knows that she's the product of her mother's affair with another man. Never having felt truly accepted by Will Walker, Esther intends to find out the truth about her father, thus her trip to London, conveniently taken while her sister, Lottie, and Lord Renderwell are traveling on the Continent.
So, Samuel feels responsible for Esther and soon finds himself assisting Esther in her quest to learn whatever she can about her father. The difficulty being - can Samuel keep Esther safe since Esther is determined to take part in the quest? These Walker ladies can be a pain in the posterior to the men whose job it is to try and keep them safe.
The interesting part of the storylines in this set of books is that the typical rules for ladies and gents are not strictly followed. This is probably in part because Lottie and Esther were never truly ladies, but also because the setting is during the Victorian era when everything was a bit more loose than during the Regency era - not sure but this is what I've surmised. When Samuel pressures Esther to come to his home, where he can keep her safe during their hunt for her father, she agrees to do so, although there isn't a respectable chaperone - only servants. But, Samuel is accustomed to having guests in his home who have reason to hide out for one reason or another.
As I mentioned in my review on the first book in this series, this author has a writing style which allows the two protagonists to spend most of the book together in one another's company. Yes, there are supporting characters, but they serve only to frame the story of the two who are engaged in the beginning, middle and final stages of romance - in this case Samuel and Esther. We get a bit of Gabriel in this book, and it's fairly evident that the bit we get is a teaser for the third book in the series in which he will be the lead - that would be - A Dangerous Deceit (Thief-Takers) . I might mention here that Gabriel is by far and away my favorite hero type. He's simply fascinating. Lord Renderwell was strong, in charge, and well, a "lord" in his and Lottie's story. Samuel is big, brash, somewhat lacking in sensitivity and yet, he makes a magnificent effort with Esther to become what she needs. Gabriel is simply Gabriel, but you'll need to read the third book in the series for his story.
Esther is a fascinating heroine. One can't help but love her feistiness, her grit and determination and eventually her success in having Samuel recognize she's a force to be reckoned with and one who will not be set aside or left out of life's adventures
Esther learns at the end of book one that, although she and Charlotte have the same mother, she (Esther) is the product of an affair her mother had while married to Charlotte's father. This is somewhat of an emotional blow to her, yet it helps to explain some of the ways she had been treated by the man she had believed to be her father. Now, as this story begins, we find Esther out and about in the shabbier areas of London, trying to uncover her biological father's identity.
And that brings Sir Samuel Brass into the picture. He has followed Esther to London because, since Charlotte and Owen are on their extended honeymoon, it's up to him to protect Esther. Well, Esther doesn't want protecting and Samuel can't keep himself from wanting to protect, so there'll be some clashing of their personalities on the way to their discovery of the love they have for each other.
The best aspect of this novel is the romance. It's well done. Both H and h have scars that need healing. The H's are both physical and emotional because of an abusive father and a mother who never allowed Samuel to protect her the way he needed to. "His need to guard and protect stemmed from his experiences as a child. It was like a pain he couldn't fully soothe, a nagging itch he couldn't reach. It would always give him trouble."
And Esther's scars are not physical but are perhaps even more troubling and were caused by "the work she'd done with her father and the years she'd spent twisting her personality to fit the ideals of the people around her." "She had acted out roles to please others because she didn't know who she really was, but if people liked her, surely who she was couldn't be all bad." Poor Esther's feelings of unworthiness have to be addressed here.
This isn't a very angsty book but it had enough emotional depth to satisfy me. I'm not interested so much in what the H and h do in the bedroom as in what they say and do before getting there. This romance was well done, IMO. What kept this from being a 5-star book for me was the plot about finding Esther's father. It was a bit holey and illogical at times. For example, Esther wandering around Spitalfields in fine clothes, or waiting outside on the streets in a carriage as if it were a taxi. Things like this struck me as curious. And there was a break-in at Samuel's house while his huge dog was totally oblivious to it all. No barking, growling or strange behavior on his part to make the human occupants suspicious.
So I did not enjoy this book for the adventure and mystery so much as for the romance and character development. Johnson is good at creating interesting characters and their personal interactions. And I'm assuming there will be at least one more book in this series. There is still one more partner (named Gabriel) in the private detective agency with Will and Samuel who I suppose will be looking for love next.
But that is trivial. This novel also includes a plausible plot, wholly believable, well-rounded characters, and my favorite HEA of any historical novel I've ever read -- edging out by a fraction the sainted Georgette's "The Grand Sophy," one of my favorite novels of all time. I hope only that when I'm finished submitting this review, I find that there's a third novel in this series and that it at least refers to the further adventures of Esther and Samuel.