Thief
by Anitra Lynn McLeod, futuristic (2010)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-238-7


Captain Jace Lawless and his crew of the salvage vessel Mutiny are thieves. Well, there are nicer ways to describe the way they make their living, but they are caught red-headed trying to break into the hold of what they thought at first to be an abandoned ship by the captain of that ship. That hard woman known as Captain Kraft leaves Jace no choice but to agree to an insulting tenure as her whore-cook (guess what that is), although our space cowboy hero has no intentions of doing more than cooking for Captain Kraft.

Thief is an interesting futuristic romance that twists considerably the traditional gender roles in this kind of story. This one may set in space, but the conflict is predominantly Kraft trying to seduce Jace without losing her heart in the process while Jace plays the amusing role typically of the romance heroine by trying to get her to admit that she actually feels something for him. There is also a plot involving a Ming the Merciless kind of villain and Jace's burning need for revenge on the deaths of his family to provide some fireworks once those in the bedroom have settled down.

I am going to sound really silly and even nitpicky saying this, but I would have loved Thief so much more if the many, many secondary characters in this story had kept their mouths shut. My goodness, these people - the crew members of our hero and heroine - do not know when to stop when it comes to all those corny jokes. Jace isn't the only one who repeatedly tells his men to stuff it, I tell you, and unfortunately, these secondary characters never do. They are in way too many scenes, constantly ruining any flow of a scene by trying too hard to be a wisecracking scenery chewer. Some of their "amusing" antics border on insubordination, thus their continuous presence in the story does not reflect well on the hero and heroine's ability to control a tight ship. Seriously, by the time the 100th page rolls, I'm already fatigued by these jokers. It is comparable to being trapped into watching the interminable performance of an inept stand-up comedian because all the exits had been barred.

Jace is a pleasant and likable hero who is just adorable as he pulls off some of the stunts typical of a romance heroine without having his masculinity suffer too much from the effort. Kraft is a bit of a stereotype when it comes to being a hard-hearted woman who is actually just trying to avoid being hurt further from caring too much, but she manages to remain in character and thaw convincingly without being overshadowed by the hero too much.

But it is really hard to appreciate this story when nearly every other page has me gritting my teeth at something said or done by those obnoxious secondary characters that plague this book. Thief is a potentially great story ruined by the presence of too many unfunny clowns.

Rating: 71


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