Title: Prince of Swords
Author: Anne Stuart
Redonk Nutshell: Mystical woman is intrigued by dangerous and dark Earl, who just happens to be a notorious thief
Official Synopsis: She is an impoverished noblewoman who lives by her wits as a Tarot reader for the English nobility. He is London’s most notorious cat burglar. They met one dark, glittering night. Yet even Jessamine Maitland cannot foresee the destiny that will sweep her into the adventure of her life with the proud, arrogant thief who has no intention of ever being caught – by man or woman. But Alastair MacAlpin has not reckoned on Jessamine – and a passion that will turn a game of cat-and-mouse into a matter of life and death. As the elusive aristocrat attempts the most daring coup of his checkered career, he is undone by this elegant beauty who sees the tenderness behind his mocking facade .. and who will pursue him over rooftops and to the ends of the earth, if she must, for the love only he can give her.
Ah, me. I know I’ve said it before (like…yesterday), but I love me some Anne Stuart. I’m so glad I grabbed this book. Nothing like filling a paper grocery bag with paperback romance books for $2. Library book sale FOR THE WIN!
Jessamine Maitland is the eldest of two, and she’s taken it upon herself to shoulder the burden of her small family. Her mother is useless. Her sister is young, beautiful, and chocked full of potential to catch a wealthy husband. Jess herself, however…she’s too old (so she thinks), and she supports her family by doing Tarot card readings for the nobility. The thing is, Jess truly does have a gift with the cards, a “sight,” if you will. The catch, though, is that she must remain a virgin in order for her connection to the cards to remain true. She decided as a little girl that she would put her gift ahead of love. So, you see, she counts herself out as any hope in rescuing her family from poverty. During one of her readings, she meets the man who’s about to put all of that in jeopardy.
Enter Alastair MacAlpin. He’s rich. He’s titled. He’s incredibly, insufferably BORED. So what’s he do to keep himself amused? He steals things. From his peers. His rule is to only steal from those who can afford it. While most of the time he reaps the benefits for himself, from time to time he’ll pass on the winnings to those less fortunate. Regardless, Alastair is bitter and harsh. Life has not been good to his family, and he sees his little “hobby” as a way of getting his revenge. Life is predictably boring until he sees Jessamine doing a reading at the party he is attending, and she accurately predicts that someone has just stolen something of value. This is his big “WTF” moment of the book, and mind you, it’s only the 1st chapter. It only gets better from here.
Alastair is intrigued, to say the least. Yeah, he’s somewhat concerned about Jess’s bizarrely accurate prediction. But he’s more enthralled then anything else. He has to know who this woman is, how she does what she does, and, more importantly, he has to have her. Using his connections (and his mad skills as a stealth prowler), he manages to track her down.
Now, you can imagine where things go from here. The thing that really keeps the plot from falling into a predictable rhythm is the strong will of Jessamine Maitland. She’s not stupid and she’s not shy. She may be poor and fallen on hard times, but she’s streetwise and damn determined to better life for her sister. It also makes a difference that, at times, Alastair is downright hard to like. The things he says…they’re harsh. Any other woman than Jessamine would crumble beneath his almighty assholity. Yes, I made that word up. Bite me. What makes it work, though, is that these two manage to bring out the best in each other.
Can a thief and a gypsy have a happy ending? I ain’t gonna ruin it for you.
Romance: 3/5 Raunch: 3.5/5