Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The London Deception - Addison Fox (HRS #1774 - Oct 2013)

Series: House of Steele (Book 2)

The House of Steele works for the good guys -- but sometimes it's hard to tell heroes from villains…

The beautiful former thief had never met a lock she couldn't pick. Although Rowan Steele is now legit, she handles some of the family's most dangerous assignments. When she agrees to safeguard an ancient treasure, her heart -- as well as her life -- may be the price.

His outlaw days roaming the streets of London are behind him. Now Finn Gallagher's expert eyes authenticate the treasures he used to steal. When a major antiquities cache is threatened, he recruits Rowan to join him. Together, he figures, they can keep anything safe. Until an old enemy raises the stakes… 

This was an exciting book to read, from the time Rowan and Finn met as teenagers to their reunion and romance as adults.  They met as teenagers when both attempted to steal a priceless bracelet from the same house.  Rowan never saw Finn's face as he was masked, and was horrified when he was shot during their escape.  She never knew what happened to him until they met again.  Finn has gone to her for help protecting an Egyptian treasure.  When attacks on them escalate Finn and Rowan will have to depend on each other to protect the treasure and themselves.

I really liked Rowan.  The book opens with her as a sixteen year old thief.  She steals as a way to cope with the loss of her parents, even though she knows it's wrong.  This time she is stopped by another thief who is after the same thing.  When a third group of thieves shows up, she and the stranger work together to escape.  There is something about him that appeals to her.  During their escape he is shot and sends her on ahead.  The event makes her take a long look at what she's doing and she makes immediate changes.  She spends the next twelve years wondering what happened to him and feeling guilty.  When Finn hires her company, specifically her, to help him protect the treasures he is to authenticate there is something about him that seems familiar.  When she discovers why she is furious with him for never letting her know he was okay.  She also discovers that the old attraction is still alive and well and much more intense.  I loved seeing them work together as they tried to figure out who was behind the trouble.  I also loved the fact that Rowan is very capable on her own, that she's not dependent on Finn for protection.  She's had a very successful career that has taken her into some risky situations and she's proud of that fact.  At one point she even says "I'm sick to death of reading stories where the man has to swoop in to save the woman. ... All I'm saying is why can't it be both of them?  Or why can't the heroine rescue the hero every once in awhile?"  Rowan is very quickly falling in love with Finn, but there is one very important difference of opinion that they have that may keep them from a future together.

At nineteen Finn had been very drawn to the beautiful girl he rescued during a mutual robbery attempt.  When it was over he discovered who she was, but because of his own background there was no way he was going to make contact with her.  Over the next twelve years he took his experiences as a thief and turned them into a very successful business as an authenticator.  He also kept track of her and her activities, happy to see that she had turned her life around.  When he needed her expertise for the Egyptian job he was looking forward to seeing her again.  He didn't expect that hint of attraction to be even stronger for the grown woman.  I loved watching him try to fight it in order to keep things strictly business.  He is disturbed by the attacks on them and wants to protect Rowan though she fights him on it.  When he gives away his identity as that thief he doesn't really understand her fury until he learns just how big an impact it made on her life.  In spite of his successful legitimate business he has never quite given up his old ways and discovers that it is a very big drawback in Rowan's eyes.  I liked his appreciation of Rowan's abilities and how well their abilities meshed.  There were some very intense situations that they got out of because of their teamwork.  By the end he had to decide if he was willing to let his past dictate his future.

The progression of the mystery itself was very good.  It was interesting to see that one of the bad guys is revealed to the reader from the beginning, showing how various strings are being pulled.  The identity of the puppet master isn't shown until the end of course.  The author did a great job of stringing me along there, because I didn't suspect at all.  There were several intense events that increased the tension all the way to the climax.  I could not put it down until it was over.

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