To Catch an Earl by Kate Bateman
Some people inherit fortunes. Emmy’s inherited something rather more unusual… the title of Europe’s most notorious jewel thief. She hadn’t planned to carry on her father’s mission of stealing back the missing royal jewels of France, but with a blackmailer demanding she find the last of the jewels, she has no choice but to get back into the thieving business.
Alex Harland is the Earl of Melton, and the hero in this second book in a trilogy about three former soldiers turned London lords now working as Bow Street investigators (yes, I’m still not quite sure why they’re doing that). You don’t need to have read the first book in the series; the events are (very) briefly summarized and the hero and heroine of This Earl of Mine make quick appearances, but you should have no trouble figuring out what’s going on, because there isn’t an overarching plot across the three.
I really enjoyed the unique plot elements of This Earl of Mine, and this one is beautifully researched too, particularly in regards the French royal jewels and what happened to them after the Revolution, where this blends fact and fiction (the Crown of Charlemagne was melted down, most of the individually named stones like the Sancy diamond ended up in private hands, few returned to the French). However, I didn’t quite buy into Emmy and Alex as a couple so much; she did a couple of really dense things (a plot point where she was identified by her totally unique perfume had me screaming into my hands) and Alex did some stuff that was absolutely morally reprehensible, one of those things being asking if Emmy would sleep with him in return for her freedom. Which he never had any intention of giving her. And then she slept with him anyway, another incomprehensible decision. I’d have liked to see them working together a lot earlier to bring down the blackmailer (whose motives were never quite explained either).
This is well written and has an intriguing plot, but I didn’t buy into the romance. As a second in series, it doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the first. Four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.