by Susan Sizemore

January 2003
ISBN: 0-06-008289-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

The setting is London, England, 1854. A small boy is caught trying to steal important papers from a woman’s home. I instantly, (in the span of the first two pages)liked the character of Kit Fox. Who wouldn’t? He’s barely six years old, and despite pouring rain, a sore leg and a fear of dogs, is crafty enough to pick locks and circuit a house for burglary and already has the makings of a great thief.

Captured, but free to groom his talents, he’s raised by his rescuer’s daughter, Hannah, who marries a Scot and gives him a highland home. Now, 26 years later, the same little orphan boy is one of the crown’s best spies. Besides his reputation as a thief, Kit was quite the shameless plunderer of ladies, “preying on affections with casual impunity,” but this time, he was torn between duty to his country and to his heart when he meets Princess Lily.

Lily has been raised in the country since her father’s exile. She knows more about raising sheep than being a princess, but when her father dies, the Bororovian princess is being blackmailed into marrying her detestable, power-hungry cousin. When Kit asks her to dance at her first London ball, she’s helpless to refuse the dark-daring eyes. It’s then that Lily decides to seduce the dangerous rogue to help her escape her evil cousin. Distracted by the lovely princess, Kit is aware he is on a very important mission. But as fate would have it, besides stealing documents alleging treason from the Bororovian king’s embassy, he rescues the beautiful, beleaguered princess. As well as being a lover of beautiful things, the thief in Kit's nature is challenged by the forbidden. She’s a princess-in-exile, being forced into a disastrous marriage and he’s the dashing English spy. Fate throws them together seemingly at every turn, and he comes to her rescue only to imprison her for himself. And that’s where the fun starts! I really enjoy reading this type of conflict, because I know it’s only going to get better.

She’s a reluctant captive, and tries unsuccessfully to escape, so Kit takes her further away to his home in the highlands. But as the relationship between Kit and Lily unfolds, Kit discovers he’s the one captured by the beautiful and innocent princess, who must follow her duty or risk upheaval and war for her country. Reality creeps in as his aunt reminds him to keep his eye on the mission. Kit's head reminds him that it was totally unacceptable for someone with such a lowly status as a street urchin, to ever imagine being with a princess. Over and over he reminds himself that to touch her is forbidden, but like the parallel of his addiction to smoking, which he was trying to quit because it interfered with his spy business, he can’t bring himself to free her. He’s a thief and he’s caught himself a princess, and even the queen can’t make him give her back. The ending has an interesting and satifying twist like a Shakespearean play; you’ll love it!

Not only is this a great story, but this book is packed with other great characters, beginning with his rescuer, Aunt Phoebe, the master mind of all spy missions, a “creature of steel-covered velvet, with ice water in her veins. She was especially fond of the lad that her niece Hannah had adopted. He was a rogue and a charmer and she’d seen to it that his talent for taking things that belonged to other people had been trained and polished until he was the finest burglar, pickpocket and all-round thief in the British Empire.”

Then there’s his lovely younger sisters: Harriet, closest in age who discovered him stealing that fateful night; Sara, the sweet book worm who studies buildings and grounds, the youngest field operative assistant for Kit; Beatrice, the family’s adolescent expert in codes and forgery; and Lucy, a budding botanist and chemist, who fondly refers to Princess Lily as Kit’s princess right from the beginning. All play a role in helping Kit get his princess and making the story so enjoyable.

This story just oozes with romance and cunning, and was delightful to read. Susan Sizemore is a wonderful author and I guarantee that you will be happily captivated by Lily, Kit and his clan.

Reviewed in April 2003 by Suemarie.

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