Technically, I have belatedly discovered, this book is part of a series. It could be that a lot of what I’m about to say would be explained/built upon by reading the others, but I didn’t, so let’s go!
“And if one more bumbling twit trod upon her slippers, she was going to remove the shoes and start beating people with them. A quick glance around the ballroom provided nothing interesting, so she went back to quietly admiring Lady Honeysett’s magnificent bosom.”
The Lady and the Thief follows Adeline, a young noblewoman left penniless by her parents and living with her aunt, whose love affair with household maid Lisette comes to a sudden and dramatic end when Lisette runs away in the night with the family valuables. Now I love a bit of period romance, but I can’t actually tell you when or where this book is set. I mean LOOK:
“It was an ugly fountain, depicting a creepy looking satyr scooping up buxom maidens who looked less than enthused about their situation. Sometimes she rather thought the ugly things were goblins rather than satyr, but woe betide the fool who mentioned that word in public. The Goblin Wars were a dark, ugly matter the world liked to pretend never happened, a stain covered up by heavy furniture and strong admonitions to avoid that particular room because there were much better rooms in the house, why bother with that dim, dull, old one at the very back that got poor light?”
There are literally no other mentions of anything inhuman or fantastical in this book. There’s candles and gas lamps and I think it’s meant to be sort of a timeless-but-old-pseudo-fantasy-setting. But don’t quote me on that.
“I am here to get married so I’m no longer a burden upon my aunt and uncle and Edith’s parents. It’s long past time I stood on my own, and since my parents left me without funds—” Lisette cut in with a sharp, cold laugh that caused a flutter of fear in Adeline’s stomach. “Your uncle and aunt said that? With a straight face? Ask them—” Lisette broke off, shook her head sharply. “No, what am I thinking? You would actually do it.”
My main issue with this story was that I didn’t like anyone. Adeline is incredibly annoying, Lisette is evidently not that good of a thief/spy if Adeline of all people keeps catching her and the assembled entourage of supporting characters are fairly one-dimensional in terms of depth. There was some attempt at a mystery element surrounding Adeline’s shady aunt and a fortune that she supposedly doesn’t have but it just didn’t stand the test against some of the mystery stories I’ve read in the past.
“I’ve saved up all of my allowance and sold off most of my jewelry and some other things. I’ve also been—” her voice dropped to a whisper “—doing work. Can you believe it?” She clasped her hands together. “I’ve been doing some embroidery for old Lady Weslow and tutoring some children in fencing. Plus, I won my last two tournaments, and they were good purses. I’m also signed up for several more tournaments coming this year.”
I liked that the author created a world where sexuality is a complete non-issue, where men can marry men as easily as women and vice versa, and there were a few moments of humour that lightened the book a little for me but otherwise I’m afraid despite my best efforts, I just didn’t like this story.
Overall rating: 2 books out of 5
A Copy of The Lady and the Thief was provided by netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.