Heart of the Steal, by Avon Gale & Roan Parrish
Release Date: July 11, 2017
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.
First of all… wow. Just, whoa! I don’t really know what I expected this book to be like… maybe good? Maybe more than good? Actually, I don’t know that I really had any expectations. Maybe I felt a little excitement because Roan Parrish has become a one-click author for me, and I’m just getting more into Avon Gale’s books. So I picked up Heart of the Steal with an open mind, a little bit of anticipation, and a whole lot of “hey, cool, a new book to read”. And yea, I might ramble, but you know that’s how I roll.
When I hit 5% I was hooked. Totally and completely hooked. This book starts off with a bang! In your face, it waves hello, says here I am, and tells me it’s going to lure me in and I will not put it down. (I swear, the book was totally talking to me.)
It was then started to realize, not to long after that 5% point, that this book was also going to make me crave things. Mostly food things, but also bourbon. Readers should be prepared to want to eat while reading. But not just anything, nope. The descriptions of food are exquisite and had me wanting exactly what Will and Vaughn were having… especially the bourbon. Did I mention bourbon? And it might seem like such a small thing, but normally I find descriptions of food and/or surroundings to be overly tedious, at times completely unnecessary, and more filler than the actual words that are needed for the story. That was not the case here. There is a clear need for the descriptions of food, but not only that, it’s just necessary because the descriptions given by both Vaughn and Will, the way they describe food, drink, and anything else in their surroundings, is simply part of their character really felt like part of their character development. And wow, do I love good character development.
Speaking of character development… I had no idea which author wrote which character. At the time I’m writing this review, I still don’t know. Maybe that’s not even how they did it… no idea. What I do know is that it’s clear that both authors have a writing style that really complement each other. Neither style overshadows the other and their chapters and words flow together seamlessly. This is something I often worry about when I read co-authored books, and this time I didn’t need to worry.
But honestly, I have to say I really love this book. I love everything about it. I love the comedy that is subtle, yet poignant, refreshing and sweet. I love the story… man, the story. It has these elements of The Thomas Crown Affair (one of my favorite movies), but it’s not that story at all. While there are some minor similarities, this is a whole different ball game and really, it’s better. Better because it is a love story and focuses more on the development of their relationship, as a romance should.
I also love the differences in each character. Will is nervous, shy, and so reserved most of the time. Yes he’s also bold and so very brave. He has a fierce protective streak that’s wonderful, and he’s very clear in his beliefs of what is right or wrong. His ethics are bone deep and he does not see any grey, only black and white. He’s like nobody I’ve ever read before and I enjoyed in getting to know him.
Amory is quite the opposite. He’s extremely witty, quick and perceptive. Yes, he’s a bit stiff and reserved in some ways, yet totally not in others. He’s rich and can basically get anything he wants, but he needs to work for it when he encounters Will. Every time Amory takes a moment and thinks about what he needs to do to win Will’s heart, when he’s really seeing Will and what it is he needs to do to make Will happy, it’s a moment in discovery that is so beautiful to see.
The banter between Will and Amory is perfection. They’re fun, exciting, provocative, tender, and emotional with each other. These men fit together in ways I wish every relationship could. And in the times that they clash, even when it something that brings about great sadness, it’s wondrous to see. They’re opposites that attract and have to find a way to make things work. They’ve just got to bend a little…
In the end, I really don’t have anything bad to say about this book. It’s delightful and fed my need for a great romantic story. I have seen images of the paperbacks that are up for pre-sale and the spine says “1” at the bottom. Please let this mean there will be more Will and Amory. The world needs more of them… I need more of them. Heart of the Steal stole my heart.
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.