by JC Wilder, futuristic (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $2.50, ISBN 1-59998-490-3
JC Wilder's Thief Of Hearts is set in 2024. It's a short story revolving around two thieves, Harper "Houdini" McRae and Chase (no last name given), breaking into crime boss Ross "Blackie" Ryan's office one night while Ross is throwing a party downstairs to retrieve some incriminating photos that Blackie is using to blackmail his victims. Harper and Chase are not working together, they pretty much bump into each other when they happen to come out to play on the same night. To complicate matters, five years ago these two were lovers until Harper found Chase in a compromising situation with the woman next door. Predictably, these two get caught because they actually forget what they are doing to rekindle some old issues on the spot and they have to now play lovers to get out of the house without arousing Blackie's suspicions.
To be honest, these two thieves won't win any awards soon for being giant intellectuals - getting carried away by past issues to the point that they get caught is not going to get them listed on any of the World's Greatest Mastermind lists anytime soon. However, I have to hand it to Ms Wilder - she manages to insert sexual elements in this story without making me stop and say, "Hey, that's absurd!" It is rather absurd how much sex these two can get away with doing when they are supposed to be on the run but Ms Wilder gets me so caught up in a "What are they doing? Oh my goodness, that's kinda... hot!" way.
In a longer story, the whole big misunderstanding issue will bleed into wallbanger territory but here, the characters get over the issue without too much fuss. Multiple orgasms tend to put one in a more magnanimous mood, I suppose. The story feels complete despite its length - the build-up and wind-down of the story never comes off as rushed or underdeveloped. The characterization and resolution are adequate, just right, and I never feel overwhelmed by badly-explained jargons. As a result, I find it very easy to get into the story and enjoy reading about Harper and Chase. They are so cheerfully unapologetic about their job with zero pearl-clutching about anything that it's fun to get into the whole vicarious escapism of the story. The sexual tension between those two crackles so I find it too easy to overlook the sillier aspects of this story.
I find Thief Of Hearts is a breezy and sexy little escapist romp. It will be nice if this story is longer because I'd love to spend more time with these two naughty cat burglars, but it's okay, everything is still good with this one.
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