The de Burgh Bride

The Devil Earl

The Last Rogue

Maiden Bride

Robber Bride

Tempting Kate

 
The Gentleman Thief
by Deborah Simmons
(Harlequin Hist. #495, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29095-0
****
That I am recommending Deborah Simmons new Regency historical is a tribute to her skill and talent. I started out convinced that I was not going to like The Gentleman Thief and ended up completely engrossed and cheering for the hero and heroine. Itís not every author who can take a ditzy blonde and make yours truly care about her.

Of course, Simmonsí skill lies in gradually uncovering the fact that Georgiana Bellwether, although endowed with bouncy blonde curls, glorious blue eyes, a figure to die for, and eminently kissable lips -- while overly enthusiastic, a bit clumsy, and charmingly naive -- is not a ditz after all. The fun lies in watching the hero make this same stunning discovery.

Georgiana has come with her countrified family to spend the season in Bath. She views her looks not as a blessing, but rather a curse because everyone immediately assumes that she is, well, a ditz. Itís hard to carry on an intelligent conversation with a man when his eyes are always drifting to her impressive bosom. But Georgie has a mind and wants to use it. In particular, she wants to use it to solve problems and mysteries. Indeed, if only she were a man, she could become a Bow Street Runner, her heartís desire.

Georgiana doesnít expect to find much scope for her talent in placid Bath, but then, one evening while attending a soiree at Lady Culpepperís house, something exciting actually happens. Her ladyshipís magnificent emerald necklace is stolen. Georgie decides that if she can crack the case, she will finally be taken seriously.

Her penchant for listening in on conversations has already uncovered one possible suspect. Of course, while she was hiding behind a potted plant, she managed to trip and crash into the Marquis of Ashdowne, the most attractive man in Bath.

Jonathan Saxton has only been a marquis for about a year, having inherited the title when his brother died. He misses the freedom and excitement of his life as a younger son. The eruption of Georgiana into his life adds some spice to his otherwise boring existence. When he discovers that she is determined to uncover the thief, he appoints himself her assistant. Somebody has to keep her out of trouble!

Ashdowne proves to have all sorts of skills that make him an invaluable assistant, like the ability to open locked doors and fade into the darkness. But he has one disadvantage, as far as Georgie is concerned. Whenever he gets too close to her, she canít think. And Ashdowne occasionally gets very close.

Georgianaís investigative efforts result in some delightfully funny moments. But the story does turn serious at the end, and Simmons handles the change in mood as well as she handles everything else. What strikes me is how she manages to provide all kinds of clues as to the identity of the thief, yet still kept me guessing. In retrospect, the culprit is clear, but like Georgie, I was led astray.

So I definitely recommend The Gentleman Thief. Georgie is a marvelous creation; the story is very well plotted; there is humor, drama, and all the sexual tension one could ask for. A most enjoyable read.

--Jean Mason


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