Series: Hearts #5
Published by Self-Published on October 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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Seduce the teacher.
Meet the cousin.Make a deal.
Steal the painting.
Andrea Anderson has no clue of the thoughts churning around in the dark and dangerous ex-con’s head as he enters her classroom. In fact, she’s momentarily lost for words. Not in her entire teaching career has she had a student who looked quite like Stu Cross.
A widow at just twenty-eight, love is something Andie hasn’t considered a part of her life for a very long time. However, when lingering touches turn to whispered words and hot, searching stares, she begins to wonder if maybe she should take a leap of faith.
But Stu is in her class for a reason, and it has nothing to do with love. He’s there to burrow his way into her life and repay a debt, otherwise his family will suffer. Andie is the first person to show him true kindness since he left prison, and though he doesn’t want to mislead her, he doesn’t have another choice.
Before long, Stu can’t tell whether or not he’s acting anymore, and his feelings for Andie could throw all of his carefully crafted plans into complete and utter disarray.
***Thief of Hearts is a contemporary romance and can be read as a complete standalone.***
Perhaps my expectations for Thief of Hearts were a tad too high. When I read the synopsis, I had visions of Julia Roberts and George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven dancing in my head as I envisioned a massive heist/love affair placed in a fine art setting. The book may lack the wow factor I anticipated, but it is still quite charming.
Andie is an isolated young widow and devoted teacher who is struggling financially. I sympathized with her and appreciated her nurturing loyalty, yet for some reason I felt a disconnect. She’s almost too good and too even tempered. I found her to be rather dull for my taste.
I really liked Stu. He’s more than his label of a criminal; he’s truly a good, self-sacrificing man who has always put his family first. He broke my heart with his incapacity to see the good inside himself and his stubborn refusal to recognize his potential.
Did I feel a huge spark between Stu and Andie? Not so much. Did they still appeal to me as a couple? Yes. I loved their ability to positively influence each other. Surprisingly, I was more interested in the student/teacher forbidden romance aspect of their relationship than the questionably deceptive seduction. At any rate, I was definitely rooting for them. Stu’s family members are rowdy and highly entertaining, and I loved Andie’s sensitive soul of a cousin.
I was prepared for the whole painting heist to lead up to an epic showdown, but I was disappointed. The climactic conflict seems abrupt, too easily resolved, and then forgotten. I wanted more suspense, and the lack of it made my attention wane.
The prospect of a former convict finding redemption and love with a lonely, kindhearted woman is sweet, and I’m sure Thief of Hearts will appeal to many readers. I enjoyed the story, but it could have sustained my interest more. The epilogue is really clever, though, and not to be missed!
Recommended for fans of:
Second chance romance
**ARC received in exchange for an honest review.**
“Are you hiding?” came his deep, masculine voice and I glanced up from my place on the floor.
“Just having some ‘me’ time,” I answered and Stu’s brows rose.
“Behind the shelves of a book shop? Andrea, I didn’t peg you for the kinky type.”
“You’re an incurable smart-arse, do you know that?”
Stu smiled and dropped down beside me, his shoulder bumping mine. “Ah yes, smart-arsery runs in the family, I’m afraid. You’ve met my brother, right?”
I nodded, thinking he was definitely correct on that one. “I have.”
A moment of quiet ensued as I stared at the shelves in front of us. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Stu studying my profile, but I didn’t dare move. I felt like I was on display somehow, my every thought on view to him. Lacing my fingers in my lap, I tried not to let the quiet affect me but it was a lost cause. It wasn’t necessarily awkwardness I felt, but I was definitely uncomfortable.
“You should come meet the rest of my family,” said Stu, breaking the quiet, his eyes still on me.
Now I turned to him. “Huh?”
I know, so eloquent.
Stu reached out and began pushing my hair back behind my shoulders. I normally wore it up at work, but today it was down. “It’s Trev’s twenty-fifth today. We’re having a party at Lee’s. You should wear your hair like this more often. I like it.”
His offhanded compliment made me flush as I tried to think of the nicest way to decline the invitation. “Thank you. I can’t come to the party though. I promised Jamie I’d help him clean up after the reading,” I croaked.
Stu’s eyes told me he didn’t believe that for a second. “I’m sure he’ll manage. How messy can things get?”
I swallowed hard. “Pretty messy.”
“You’re right. I bet those history buffs leave empty beer cans and cigarette butts everywhere,” Stu quietly teased, his hands still on my hair as he groomed me. The feeling was heavenly, probably because nobody ever touched me like this. I couldn’t help sinking into the touch.
A smile curved my lips. “It’s true. They go a little wild after they’ve gotten their books signed.”
Stu moved ever closer, his mouth at my ear as he whispered, “Do you know what I think, Andrea?”
Goosebumps marked my skin as his breath washed over me. “What?” I replied, so quietly I was surprised he heard.
“I think you’re a dirty little liar.”
He startled a gasp out of me when he tongued my earlobe into his mouth and gently sucked.
I should have pushed him away, jumped to my feet, proclaimed my indignation. But I did none of those things. Couldn’t do any of those things. Instead I sat there, eyes closed and frozen to the spot as I sank into him and he continued to do magical things with his tongue.
Breaking away, he murmured, “I like you. Come to the party.”
“O-okay,” I breathed. What the hell? I hadn’t meant to say that. It just slipped out, my body running ahead of my mind. For the first time in years I felt unchained from my inner worries, and all because Stu Cross had slipped his tongue in my ear.
Figure that one out, because for the life of me, I couldn’t.
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