The Gentleman Thief
by Deborah Simmons, historical (2000)
Harlequin Historical, $4.99, ISBN 0-373-29095-0


Watch out Bath - sheltered, bored Georgiana "Don't Call Me Georgie" Bellewether is let loose on the unwary Ton holidaying here. A squire's daughter, naturally Georgie has never been anywhere far from her country home. She has an avid mind for mysteries, however, and her biggest regret is that her gender prevents her from being a Bow Street Runner. Worse, no one understands her, everyone thinks she's just a beautiful blonde, buxom airhead. Hence Georgie's bored. And we all know nothing is more dangerous than a bored intelligent woman with a yearning for adventure. Except maybe a clumsy, bored, intelligent woman with a yearning for adventure.

And Georgie's clumsy.

One day, with her head stuck in a houseplant in Lady Culpepper's party, she overhears two mysterious persons hatching a Bad Plot. When Lady Culpepper's necklace goes missing soon after, Georgie is delighted. Move over Sherlock Holmes, here comes Georgiana Bellewether!

Trouble is, she is always distracted by this devilishly good-looking rogue, Johnathon Sexy, sorry, Saxton, the Lord Ashdowne. Ashdowne keeps stumbling upon her, and damn it, that infuriating man decides to appoint himself her "keeper" to keep her from troubles! Pig. Even though he is a cute pig.

When Georgie puts Ashdowne on her list of suspects, Ashdowne cranks up the seduction factor. Poor Georgie can't think straight. Ashdowne is supposed to her assistant, after all. What is an intrepid detective-in-the-making to do?

The Gentleman Thief is fun. I adore Georgie, who is definitely one of the most realistic bluestocking heroine I've ever read. It is only proper that this woman is somewhat oblivious to Ashdowne's close-to-spontaneous-combustion whenever he gets a whiff of her. Nobody pays attention to her, hence she closets herself off from emotions. Naturally, then, that Georgie should be a somewhat snobbish, condescending, yet utterly naive woman. Most misunderstood geniuses are like that.

Ashdowne sees right through her facade, of course. Georgie, he realizes, isn't just the Brain she thinks she is. She is also a romantic who has no idea she is holding out for affection. From his initial disdainful bemusement, he soon realizes that Georgie is his fellow soul-mate when it comes to the reckless, impulsive, and impetuous wild-side of life. He'd best post the banns already.

There I have it - two delightful characters running around rampaging and wrecking havoc on everyone's social and personal lives. Woosh! There goes the vicar with some naughty sexual proclivities, running off to hide from Georgie and her bumbling investigative techniques. There's a balding nobleman who needs hair desperately to marry a fortune, a sinister villainous rival of Ashdowne, a female Captain Sharp, and lots of fun.

And it's romantic too! I will always reread and savor the scenes where poor Ashdowne, suave Ashdowne, is reduced to stammering and sputtering in Georgie's presence. Georgie at the surface may seem not to be Ashdowne's match, but she is. A delightful mix of naivety and wiles, Georgie has Ashdowne wrapped around her little pinkie in no time. The fun is seeing how the both of them realize just that.

I guess saying that The Gentleman Thief is a delightful keeper is redundant, right? Light-hearted, non-stop fun of a story with just enough emotional intensity to give it some memorable substance, The Gentlemen Thief is my perfect idea of a really great pick-me-up-and-blow-those-nasty-blues-away read. Definitely reread material, one to savor again and again.

Rating: 93


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