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To Love a Thief    by Julie Anne Long order for
To Love a Thief
by Julie Anne Long
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton

Gideon Cole lacks both title and money, but is heir to his uncle's estate. Uncle Edward, Lord Lindsey constantly tells everyone that he is dying. It's become an old story that Gideon no longer believes. But he knows that he will eventually inherit the estate as well as the title. He currently works as a barrister, and is very good at it. However, he has a heart of gold, which leads him to take on clients who cannot afford to pay him. Gideon's father loved to gamble, and left the family in great debt, which his son has been trying to repay ever since. His goal in life is to woo the woman of every man's dreams, Constance, who has both wealth and beauty. His main rival is the wealthy Lord Jarvis.

Along comes Lily, a young, orphaned pickpocket, living in poverty with her ten-year old sister Alice. One day, after she picks Gideon's pocket, he makes a pact with her. He sees in Lily Masters an opportunity to make Constance jealous, if only he and his friend, Lord Kilmartin, can transform Lily into a lady. As you will have already guessed, this is a variation on the Eliza Doolittle story, changing a poverty-stricken woman with the mouth of a sailor into a lady with manners and wit and charm. Lily Masters is already a beauty, and Gideon and Laurie (Kilmartin) see that she has potential. There are lots of laughs as the two men teach her to speak properly, dance, and even to curtsy like a lady. Gideon's plan to make Constance jealous works, but Gideon didn't anticipate falling in love with Lily. That was not part of the plan! As for Lily, she knows that once Gideon proposes to Constance, she and Alice will have to move out of his uncle's estate (their version of paradise) and resort again to stealing.

Though I was surprised at its length, I really enjoyed this historical romance. Julie Anne Long does a good job of describing the details of life in the time period, and the characters are delightful. I especially liked Uncle Edward, who finds himself enchanted by Lily Masters. She in turn befriends him and helps him realize that he isn't really ill at all. Lily is a wonderful heroine and To Love a Thief is a fun read.

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