Beauty and the Thief by Shana Galen

Beauty and the Thief by Shana Galen
The Royal Saboteurs Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Historical, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Callahan Kelly is a conman, pure and simple. With his dark hair, dark eyes, and dimpled smile, he can smooth talk anyone out of anything and has a keen nose for sniffing out liars and thieves. So clearly someone somewhere made a mistake including him on a train heading toward a training ground with an elite group of agents for the Crown. But Baron, the leader of the newly formed Royal Saboteurs, makes a deal with Callahan: stay until his troubles in London die down, and if he still wants to go, he’ll be paid and discharged. But Cal finds the training at the camp fascinating, and even more intriguing is Bridget, the red-haired beauty who’s immune to his charm. When Cal is asked to partner with Bridget to infiltrate a group of Irish separatists or return to London, the choice is neither simple nor easy.

Bridget Murray was sent from London to serve as Baron’s secretary. She never expected to be given the chance to carry out a mission for the Royal Saboteurs. She doesn’t like Callahan Kelly from the moment she meets him. But when they’re paired to infiltrate the Irish nationalists, she reluctantly agrees to pose as his wife. Living in close quarters with Callahan isn’t as awful as she expected, and that’s just the problem. The closer they become and the more real the danger surrounding him, the more she realizes she doesn’t ever want to let him go.

Ms. Galen has done it again. Given readers a new adventure with intrigue, suspense and drama while weaving a romance between two unlikely people – a lady who is proper, prompt, great with schedules and cyphers, and a man who’s a thief running from the results of his addictions. How can a heroine who lives in her head, and a hero who thinks of himself as nothing but a selfish thief more worried about how much blunt he’ll get instead of any good he might do, fall in love? That’s the challenge and the author delivered.

To say their first meeting was unusual is an understatement. Readers understand right away what type of person Bridget is, and based on the characters that chase Cal (Callahan) they’ll know that trouble abounds with a capital T.

The first part follows their training. As this is the first book in the series, the author spends time introducing the secondary characters that are going affect the hero and heroine, either directly or indirectly. Baron, the leader of the Royal Saboteurs, is in charge but overall, his role isn’t a forceful one. He triggers the plot and moves things along but it’s like he steps back and lets things play out. He steps in when needed but the relationship that develops between Cal and Bridget is pretty much tailor-made for the mission.

When it was time to go, it started off kind of slow. Makes sense since they have to get the lay of the land, the players and their cover story. The thing about the drama and suspense as Cal meets and tries to get on the good side of the head villain, is that it seems more drama-light. It’s not heavy handed, well, except for the part in the train yard, but the whole delivery of the ultimatums, challenges and the ‘spying’ seemed glossed over, so I never felt a deep sense of worry or fear for the main characters. One of the female villains is quite overt in her distrust and it escalated from 1 – 60 really fast. How Cal escapes from the locked room is again drama-lite. It didn’t grab the depths of my emotions, but the whole scenario did entertain.

The one thing readers won’t be surprised about is what happens when a hero and heroine find themselves in close quarters, especially when they both try to lie to themselves that they are not affected by the other person, that they don’t really like each other all that much. They find out the truth of their lies and end up eventually exploding in passion. Readers will have no doubts as to their true feelings for each other, not their hearts and not their physical attraction – it’s quite clear Bridget and Cal are meant for each other, and they are falling in love.

The big dust-up when the main villain catches up with the hero and heroine seemed anticlimactic to me. I didn’t get the feeling of impending doom, nor did I worry about the outcome. I was surprised as to how it ended, how they ended up escaping. I didn’t see that coming, until I read the description of another party in the scene. Then it made sense. I found it kind of sad too. Only then did I get worried because gunshots can easily become fatal.

The happy ever after is one befitting a newly created outfit called the Royal Saboteurs. One adventure down, another to go – this time, Cal and Bridget are more than what they started out like in the beginning of Beauty and the Thief. They are no longer alone – they have each other. They have grown, matured, fallen in love and in doing so, have become better people. They now have a goal, a job and the strength of their love to see them through the rough spots as they head to their next mission. I wonder what it’ll be? I enjoyed this novel enough to be intrigued and excited to read the next story.

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