To Steal a Heart
by Jen Turano
Series: The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency #1
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date November 17, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: New York Gilded Age – US – 1875 – 1900
Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
After a childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she'd put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. In the middle of breaking into a safe that holds the proof to prove her friend's innocence, Gabriella is interrupted by Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend--until he abandoned her.
After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agreed to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he'd be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.
As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
New York. The Gilded Age. Best friends separated in their youth…
Nicholas had gone from life as a thief to being accepted as one of the most eligible gentlemen of society’s Four Hundred.
And Gabriella had gone from thief to orphanage to respectable seamstress. And novice detective – or inquiry agent to be more correct.
Their reunion was surprising and quite unexpected, not only that it occurred but also the circumstances under which it did. It was fun to watch as they were thrown together again and again, much to Gabriella’s chagrin. And Nicholas’ pleasure and confusion.
With the humorous circumstances I’ve come to expect from Jen Turano, and a bunch of quirky characters (not excluding Winston, the mangy dog who loved to be spoken to like a pirate), the ladies of The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency fumbled around, solving crimes even the skilled Pinkerton agents were unable to.
I enjoyed seeing Nicholas’ attitude about marriage get altered as well as his priorities as Gabriella returned to his life. Not that he had a callous heart before this – he just learned some things from his mentor that would have been better ignored.
Daphne, the secret mystery writer who got faint at the hint of trouble, was quite cute! Her penchant for taking notes about everything that could be used in a book made me smile.
A large portion of the story was told using their dialog. While I often appreciate this method of imparting details, this seemed a bit overdone and the conversations felt stilted and awkward.
Some of the seedier sides of life were exposed here. Nicholas and Gabriella’s early years were spent in the care of a man who was a little like Fagan from Oliver Twist. Nicholas encouraged Gabriella to dress as a boy to protect her from lecherous men (and boys). The many mentions of the ways little girls were in danger growing up in the Five Points area of New York City were, in my opinion, too much.
To Steal a Heart is a clean historical romance (aside from the unpleasant aspects mentioned above). There is a hint of spiritual matters as Gabriella considered that perhaps God had not abandoned her as she had thought. I would not consider it Christian romance as listed on the retail sites, though.