This is going to be a 'let me start by saying' kind of post. I grabbed the ARC for this one off Netgalley after seeing it was the best book someone had ever read. Ever.
So let me start by saying, I love Samantha Kane's voice and I love the cover and title. Sometimes I judge by a cover, I'll admit it. Here is the blurb for A Devil's Thief.
The daughter of a reformed jewel thief, Julianna Harte knows a thing or two about stealth. When the foundling home she provides for finds itself in dire financial straits, Julianna is forced to do the unthinkable. In a bit of misguided Robin Hood derring-do, she slips through the window of a wealthy rake to search for a treasure she knows is there: an invaluable pearl. But when the towering and very naked occupant of the moonlit bedroom ambushes her with a bargain—a night in his bed in exchange for the pearl—Julianna doesn’t know if it’s masculine heat or sheer desperation that makes his terms so tempting.
Alasdair Sharpe had no intention of keeping his end of the bargain. Planning to offer his little cat burglar carte blanche instead, he promptly loses himself in the delights of unexpected pleasure. But when he awakes the next morning to find his family heirloom gone, fury quickly replaces sensual languor. Of course, Alasdair is more than willing to use seduction to reclaim his stolen pearl—and find the key to Julianna’s heart.
She has a great premise here and I'm jealous I didn't come up with it. It starts off with a smoking gun, literally, great move. What I didn't like was that the hero didn't have to work for anything. He was a bastard through much of the book and to us he had some redeeming qualities but to Julianna, she should have punched him in the nose and still stole his pearl and then kicked dirt in his face.
Then there was the friend, Hil. Was he supposed to be a mind reader? A super sleuth? Alasdair asks himself several times how Hil knew so much about Julianna. Well, we ask ourselves the same question. Then there's the fucks. The three men, Alasdair, Hil and Roger, they stand around talking about fucking Julianna (in the literal sense, not the 'she's annoying' sense). Then as the book goes on, I believe Alasdair says it a few times to Julianna and she just wants him more? Then at the end, in the black moment I won't give away, the group says it about fifty more times. Using language like that where it isn't needed is jarring and loses impact in a Regency.
The other things that made me roll my eyes were when Alasdair gave us an accounting of his relationship with his cousin who had barely got a mention up until then. There were a few characters thrown in for future books and that is annoying when it's so obvious.
Two thirds of the way through, Julianna thinks about how she has hidden behind a dowdy exterior. You can't throw that in two thirds of the way through. That should have been clear GMC to start.
Then when she is trying to steal back the pearl so she can live happily after with Alasdair (after he nearly rapes her), she remembers exactly which steps squeak and which ones don't? She remembers things that no girl in her right mind would remember after only two visits to what is essentially a pawn shop for stolen items.
I do want to say that even though I was put off a few times and skimmed heaps, I did read through to the end and it was a really nice love story. It took a while to get there, but I will definitely pick up Samantha's next book. (That is the truth, not just a way to sugar coat the review)