by Ava March
Part of the Brook Street Trilogy
M/M Romance, erotic, novella, historical
Review copy courtesy of the publisher, via Netgalley.
It was only supposed to be one night. One night to determine once and for all if he truly preferred men. But the last thing Lord Benjamin Parker expected to find in a questionable gambling hall in Cheapside is a gorgeous young man who steals his heart.
It was only supposed to be a job. Cavin Fox has done it many times—select a prime mark, distract him with lust, and leave his pockets empty. Yet when Cavin slips away under the cover of darkness, the only part of Benjamin he leaves untouched is his pockets.
With a taste of his fantasies fulfilled, Benjamin wants more than one night with Cavin. But convincing the elusive young man to give them a chance proves difficult. Cavin lives with a band of thieves in the worst area of London, and he knows there's no place for him in a gentleman's life. Yet Benjamin isn't about to let Cavin—and love—continue to slip away from him.
Now, I'm not normally one who likes books where the two main characters jump into bed with each other before they get to know each other a bit. But with Brook Street: Thief, for these two characters, it just works. Lord Benjamin Parker has been wondering for a while if he prefers men over women and seeks out a gambling house of a certain reputation to discover the truth about himself. Cavin Fox seeks out men of a certain persuasion and then robs them once they're asleep. He works for a man called Hale, and previously he had pimped Cavin out and got his money that way, but Cavin never liked it. It was his idea to instead pick out the gentlemen he wants to sleep with and rob them instead of whoring. Hale doesn't care either way as long as he gets his money.
The sparks fly between Benjamin and Cavin as soon as they meet and you just know that before the end of the night, these two are going to get together. It was Benjamin's first time with a man, but he wasn't a shy blushing, virgin, he knew what he wanted and went right after it. The love scenes are very erotic, well-written with a focus on the emotions the characters are feeling as well as they physical aspects and each one added something different to the story. They flowed with the narrative, rather than the author just decided "we need a love scene here".
I adored Benjamin and Cavin and I was rooting for them to get their happy ever after, even though it probably wasn't true to life in that respect. Would a thief and a gentlemen ever stay together? More could have been made of their different backgrounds and how they overcome them. And of course not to mention the fact that homosexuality was illegal then. But it's a book, and I could suspend my disbelief for that. After all, I was reading a romance, not historical fact.
Ava March is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. Reading her books, you can imagine you are in the gambling dens, rich town houses, or in the stews of Regency London without the book turning into a history lesson. Although is a novella, it's a satisfying read and doesn't leave lots of loose threads dangling.
I loved the book and I would have given it 5 stars except there were a few quibbles which took me out of the story. It's set in Regency London, Benjamin was English so there is no way he would have thought to himself that he was "blocks from home". It should have been roads or streets away. We don't have blocks, most cities and towns aren't on a grid system, but sprawl all over the place. Then, there is mention of a marquis, the correct term would be marquess (the male title) and his wife would be a marchioness. Debretts online guide is helpful for that sort of thing.
But all in all a very enjoyable tale, well-told with characters you care about and want to see happy. If you want, hot Regency stories with spicy M/M romance, Ava March should be on your list.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby