Title: Heart of the Steal
Author: Avon Gale and Roan Parrish
Publisher: Philtre Press
Release Date: July 11th 2017
Page Count: 306
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Responsible, disciplined William Fox channeled his love for art and his faith in the rules into being an FBI Art Crimes agent. Right and wrong, justice and injustice—the differences are clear, and Will has spent his career drawing a line between them. Maybe his convictions have cost him relationships, but he’s not willing to compromise what he knows is right. Until the night he meets Amory Vaughn.
As the head of his family’s philanthropic foundation, Vaughn knows very well that being rich and powerful can get him almost anything he wants. And when he meets endearingly grumpy and slightly awkward William Fox, he wants him more than he’s wanted anything. Vaughn is used to being desired for his name and his money, but Will doesn’t care about either.
When Vaughn falls back on old habits and attempts to impress Will by stealing a painting Will admires, their nascent bond blows up in his face. But Vaughn isn’t willing to give up on the glimpse of passion he saw the night he took Will apart. Before Will knows it, he’s falling for the man he should have arrested, and Vaughn has to realize that some things can’t be bought or stolen. Love has to be given freely. But can a man who lives by the rules, and a man who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, ever see eye to eye?
Heart of the Steal is a standalone romance with a happy ending. It features a Southern gentleman who thinks he’s always right, a buttoned-up FBI agent who secretly likes his buttons unbuttoned, and wall sex. And desk sex. And picnic blanket sex.
“I loved William Fox like the rip of lightning through a sky I thought would always be dark. Like a shout echoed back to me from a great depth, rounded by distance and time, but still recognizable. Yes, like the most perfect of perfect thefts. The ones I would never admit to, never acknowledge. The ones where something called to me where before there was only silence and emptiness and here, here, here was the thing that would shine on it with beauty.”
Because English is not my mother tongue, I’m afraid that sometimes I let good writing go unappreciated. But here, there was no way to miss how AMAZING, beautiful and evocative the writing is. The quotes included in this review is only a small part, trust me.
This was a HUGE surprise. Not because I don’t trust these authors to deliver a well written story, but because it was so not what I expected. Heart of the Steal is not your standard story with the alpha male/ grumpy FBI agent. And it’s not a mystery/ suspense/ action story either. Heart of the Steal is relationship and character driven, diverse, original and sexy. It’s a deeply romantic, quiet story, but one that doesn’t lack any tension. No, the characters here are way too fascinating to allow things to get boring.
Amory Vaughn, you sexy, mild mannered bastard. He’s so adorably snob. He won’t attack even if you offend him, but with tiny strikes here and there, he’ll put the final nail in your coffin. But Amory has also a huge heart. He’ll do anything to take care of his people, even when he’s not supposed to. If you ‘re loved by Amory Vaughn, rest assured, he’ll move heaven and earth for you. Just don’t get any spills on his favourite rug, ok?
William Fox is just the opposite of your stereotypical alpha male FBI agent. Will is competent but also socially awkward. He lives by his rules, he sees the good in people, and has absolutely no idea how to flirt. He also bakes cookies for Amory, because nobody ever did that for him.
At first, I found it weird that Amory was dreaming of hearts and flowers having only just met Will. But it quickly became clear that it was actually longing. Will was the first person who wasn’t fazed by his money and power. This isn’t an insta-love story. Will and Amory’s relationship stretches over a somewhat long period, during which they go on dates, and then there’s this awkward-cute admission that “we’re boyfriends!”. And ultimately, the “I love you’s”. I heart eyed so bad during these scenes.
The conflict of this story (and there is strong one), comes from the characters themselves. Will is a man that lives by his ethics and follows the rules, while Amory is used to making things happen, using his name and money to ignore the rules. This is a constant threat, one they try to ignore by keeping jobs and pleasure separate, until it blows up on their faces. They will have to compromise, and find a gray area.
There is a healthy dose of steam and a delicious sex scene while recreating an arrest, that started out fun, and ended up…not so fun. This scene was masterfully done.
Bottom line, I enjoyed this immensely, and I’m really hoping to read more by this author duo.