Theft of Shadows

Naomi Bellis
2008, Paranormal Historical (1790s [Georgian] England)
Signet, $6.99, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451223284
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

Theft of Shadows is an enjoyable novel from a promising new voice in historical fiction. This is Naomi Bellis' third book, and I'm the third reviewer at AAR to give the author a grade of "B". This author is one to watch.

Gabriel, a French chevalier and former spy for the English, returns to London after reconciling with his exiled family to remake their fortune and allow them to live in comfort. However, only days after landing, he is attacked by a thief on a lonely stretch of road, and all is stolen from him. What’s worse is that the thief is a woman. And she steals his horse, which means a long, lonely walk to the city.

Because we’re all clever readers, we can see where this is going… That’s right, our heroine, Anne Tremaine is also our thief, and desperate for money so she can pose as a wealthy widow, and track down the man who cold-bloodedly destroyed her village.

After the loss of his fortune, Gabriel is forced to return to his old work, and the boss that he doesn’t trust. The job entrusted to him, however, seems simple. He must enter the world of the ton to keep an eye on a traitor to the crown, one with dark powers beyond the mortal world.

Though they meet again, and frequently, only Anne recognizes the Chevalier, and is torn between desperation that he might discover her – and send her to the gallows – and her growing desire for him. The eventual revelation of her identity is well handled; a secret identity is always tricky, but this is realistic, with consequences and actions true to their characters.

I truly liked the characterizations in this novel. Anne really works as a woman nearly destroyed who vows revenge, one who has no reason to trust anyone, but who is, nonetheless, vulnerable to her attraction and emotions. Gabriel plays the smooth courtier, making all the right moves, but with a deeper motive. He is attracted to Anne’s strength and mysterious ways, and you can see why, when all the men in her past have been cruel, she falls so easily for his courtesy.

There’s a paranormal plot that ties into the main suspense plot of the novel, which is also relatively fresh, tying nicely into history and mythology without crossing too much into well-trod ground. There’s a little bit of deus ex machina in regards to Gabriel’s role, but I found it easy to overlook. Obvious characters from previous novels also make an appearance, but don’t detract from the new couple.

So, to sum up: Go! Read! Enjoy!

-- Kate Cuthbert

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