Rose Valetta’s father was kidnapped. All she has to do to ensure his safety is steal the kingdom of Zarrenberg’s Pasha Star from the Great Exhibition. When she learns it has already been stolen, she has to team up with her teenage crush Nathan Hawk. This is the plot of Jane Beckenham’s To Love a Thief and honestly, the ‘love’ in the title should have warned me that this fascinating adventure is only secondary to a decent romance.
I was really interested in the plot. Even though Zarrenberg’s customs do appear a bit theatrical, it was still captivating. It has royalty, thievery, a kidnapped father, action and a strong Victorian era feel to it. Even though I’m not that interested in romance, the romance between Rose and Nathan is a critical plot point and it feels like something romance lovers would be interested in.
Rose Valetta is a great feminist character, but it did feel a little bit forced at times. She’s a caring woman from 1851 who can stand up for herself and has no problem dressing in male’s clothes. This should be enough, but Beckenham constantly needs to remind us of how amazing this is. It just makes the situation a little too preachy for my liking.
Then there’s Nathan. Nathan has a past as a jewel thief, and while it did come in handy, it didn’t live up to the expectation. The first line in the blurb is about his past as ‘the Raven’, yet the story would have worked just as well without it. t could have been very interesting, but of course, the romance had to be more important. Fortunately, this is the first book in a sort of series, so maybe it can go into more detail later on.
There is one graphic sex scene, but it was actually decent. Of course, I would have preferred the story without the sex, but it wasn’t cringe worthy. There’s clearly a connection between the two and the actions ran smoothly. This perfectly captures the whole book. Even though the relationship is nice, the story could be more interesting without it.
Objectively, I feel like the book is good. It has fairly strong characters and the plot is solid. It just needs a few minor tweaks to turn it into an amazing book. 7/10.