A HEART WORTH STEALING, by Joanna Barker, Shadow Mountain, May 2, 2023, Paperback, $16.99 (young adult/ new adult/ adult fiction)
A young heiress turns to a former lawman for help when someone targets her estate in A Heart Worth Stealing, by Joanna Barker.
Little Sowerby, England, 1802
Miss Genevieve Wilde ― a magistrate’s daughter and independent heiress ― is determined to meet life’s challenges all on her own, just as her late father had taught her. So, when her father’s pocket watch is stolen, she will do anything to get it back, especially when the local authorities prove incompetent.
Upon reading an advertisement in the paper, she takes a chance and contacts a thief-taker to find the watch. It’s a choice Ginny regrets when former Bow Street officer Jack Travers arrives on her doorstep. He is frustratingly flirtatious, irritatingly handsome, and entirely unpredictable, and Ginny wonders if she’ll be able to resist such a man.
But after Ginny discovers that the missing watch is just a small part of a larger, more frightening plot against her, she needs Jack’s help more than ever. To protect her home and her reputation, the two enter into a risky charade ― pretending Jack is her cousin so he can begin his investigation, starting with the household staff. As they work together to unravel the mystery, Ginny finds herself falling fast for her charismatic thief-taker, leaving her heart in just as much danger as her life. —Synopsis provided by Shadow Mountain
A Heart Worth Stealing is part of Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance line and follows the same sort of formula as its other books — boy meets girl, obstacles stand in their way, they find love in the end. It’s also worth noting it falls into the “chaste” romance category, meaning some kissing is as steamy as it gets.
But there’s more the A Heart Worth Stealing than a formula. There’s the story that’s applied to it. And in this case, there’s a mystery running through it, too.
At the center of the story are Ginny and Jack. Both were born out of scandal of sorts and understand what it’s like to be watched and judged your whole life. But while Ginny has mostly conformed to societal norms, Jack has chosen a path that skirts it. This creates a nice push and pull between the two of them as their relationship develops.
Heart Worth Stealing is told mostly from Ginny’s point of view, which is fine and adds to the mystery, but Jack feels less developed as a result. Author Joanna Baker does a great job introducing his family, and I found myself wanting to know more about his life pre-Ginny.
Despite this, A Heart Worth Stealing is a satisfying mystery. If you’re looking for a fast-moving sweet romance, it’s a good option.
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