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, and is in deep trouble when her father dies and the Bororovian princess is being blackmailed into marrying her detestable, power-hungry cousin. When Kit asks her to dance at her first 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 almost forgets he's on a mission. But as fate would have it, besides stealing documents alleging treason from the Bororovian king's embassy, he rescues the beautiful, beleaguered princess. Being a lover of beautiful things, as well as hating to be told he couldn't have something he wants was a challenge to the thief in Kit's nature. Lily's a princess-in-exile, being forced into a disastrous marriage and Kit's the dashing English spy whom fate has thrown together seemingly at every turn, and comes to her rescue only to imprison her for himself. An that's where the fun starts!
Lily's a reluctant captive, and tries unsuccessfully to escape, but 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, and his 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 was forbidden, but like 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.
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 in England; 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 charming roles in helping Kit get and keep his princess.
I really enjoyed reading this type of "dutiful" conflict, because you know it's gets better every page. This story just oozes with romance and cunning and humor, and Kit is at the top of my list for one of the most memorable rogues. The ending has an interesting and satifying twist like a Shakespearan play; you'll love it!
Susan Sizemore is a wonderful author and I guaranteed that you will be happily captivated by Lily, Kit and his clan, as they steal your heart.