Dubbed the Smoke Thief, a daring jewel thief is confounding the London police. His wealthy victims claim the master burglar can walk through walls and vanish into thin air. But Christoff, the charismatic Marquess of Langford, knows the truth: the thief is no ordinary human but a “runner” who’s fled Darkfrith without permission. As Alpha leader of the dra´kon, it’s Kit’s duty to capture the fugitive before the secrets of the tribe are revealed to mortals. But not even Kit suspects that the Smoke Thief could be a woman.
Clarissa Rue Hawthorne knew her dangerous exploits would attract the attention of the dra´kon. But she didn’t expect Christoff himself to come to London, dangling the tribe’s most valuable jewel–the Langford Diamond–as bait. For as long as she could remember, Rue had lived the life of a halfling–half dra´kon, half mortal–and an outcast in both worlds. She’d always loved the handsome and willful Kit from the only place it was safe: from afar. But now she was no longer the shy, timid girl she’d once been. She was the first woman capable of making the Turn in four generations. So why did she still feel the same dizzying sense of vulnerability whenever he was near?
From the moment he saw her, Kit knew that the alluring and powerful beauty was every bit his Alpha equal and destined to be his bride. And by the harsh laws of the dra´kon, Rue knew that she was the property of the marquess. But they will risk banishment and worse for a chance at something greater. For now Rue is his prisoner, the diamond has disappeared, and she’s made the kind of dangerous proposition a man like Kit cannot resist….
After reading the first two books in Shana Abe’s The Sweetest Dark series, I was instantly intrigued by the world of the drakon that she’d created. It was this interest that made me pick up The Smoke Thief, which is the story of a character mentioned via old letters in The Sweetest Dark. As a fan of historical romances – especially those with a more paranormal flair – I knew that The Smoke Thief would be right up my alley and couldn’t wait to read Rue’s story. In some ways, I actually liked this book more than her YA “sequels” because she was able to give me what I was craving: a straight-up romance with fabulous characters. Sometimes a girl just wants her romance, and that was certainly what I received.
I mentioned in my reviews of The Sweetest Dark and The Deepest Night that Abe has a really gifted way of telling stories. Her prose flows so easily, and she has such beautiful ways of phrasing things that there are times when I’d be swept away with her words and story. I don’t think The Smoke Thief had this same charm to it, although I certainly didn’t find any fault at all with her storytelling. There were still some moments that caught my attention and made me realize how gifted she is with turns of phrase, but overall there wasn’t that sort of breathtaking quality to the words. I was fine with that, myself, but if you go in thinking you’re going to get what’s so prominent in The Sweetest Dark, then you’ll probably be a bit disappointed.
What I absolutely loved, though, was the banter between our two main characters. Kit is a complete Alpha male, used to getting his way, and unused to having to charm someone; usually women just want him without him having to put forth too much effort. With Rue, though, he almost has to court her, and I loved the way he worked to soften her up and get her trusting him. Rue was such a strong female character, too – not only because of her profession but the way she lives her life – and I loved that she really made Kit work for what he wanted. Plus, both characters are brimming with quick wit and charm and humor. I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of them both.
I also loved that the drakon world and society was at the forefront with this book, whereas Lora was guessing and having to figure a lot of things out for herself in Abe’s YA series. I liked getting actual background and figuring out how everyone lived and worked and survived, and especially how they managed to keep themselves and their secrets separate from the semi-close English society. I especially loved reading all the scenes where Kit and Rue were flying as dragons or Turning into smoke and the adventures they got up to. If nothing else, being a paranormal creature certainly spiced up life in the late 1700s!
If you liked The Sweetest Dark and its sequel – or just enjoy paranormal romances – then I’d definitely recommend The Smoke Thief. It is the first in a series, although I think it works well enough as a stand alone. I might possibly read the second book, although I will be sad to leave Kit and Rue behind because I just enjoyed them so much. Nonetheless, this definitely gets two thumbs up from me. If you like witty banter and charming main characters, plus a lot of steamy romance, definitely give this one a read!