My rating: Beach Vacation (3/5)
Honor Among Thieves is an unusual historical romance, one that’s in the same vein as Brenda Novak’s A Matter of Grave Concern. The heroine in Honor Among Thieves reluctantly joins a group of resurrection men when her elder brother leaves her family in steep debt. In order to repay these loans, Lorna Robbins needs ready cash yesterday. Due to her higher social station she can gain information and access to corpses that most resurrection men cannot. Before long, Lorna and her band of men are snagging all the best corpses in London. Unfortunately, this success brings suspicion, making it more difficult to keep her secret life as Blackbird separate from her life as Lorna Robbins.
Complicating matters is Brandon Dewhurst, a younger son who became a surgeon. At the behest of his mentor, Brandon has been purchasing specimens from resurrection men to further the study of pregnancy. This is certainly not a job Brandon relishes, but he is aware of the advancements that this research could bring to women. The only trouble is that Brandon’s supply has diminished because of the success of the mysterious Blackbird and her gang of men.
When Brandon and Lorna meet, sparks fly; however, their romance is put on hold with Lorna’s secrets. It’s hard to romance a girl, when she’s off stealing bodies (and when you have no idea that this is what she’s doing in her spare time).
In all honestly, I feel on the fence about Honor Among Thieves. There were elements that I liked, and there were elements that I thought were not so good. What I liked about this one was the uniqueness of the storyline. In most historical romances the leads are well-to-do or there’s a Cinderella story element to it. This is not the case here. Lorna is deeply in debt and Brandon is a simple surgeon. Yes, he’s got a stable income, but he’s not rolling in the dough. Brandon is not riding in on a white horse and saving Lorna by covering the cost of her debt. This setup is great; I like that these characters had more of a “working class” feel to them. They were still part of the upper crust, but they had much more to worry about than ton gossip.
I also liked the focus on resurrection man. After reading the disappointing A Matter of Grave Concern, I was intrigued by those that stole bodies for science. The immediate, visceral reaction to this is that it is repellent and wrong; however, in Honor Among Thieves, I thought the motivation was explained, and explained well. The abhorrent act of stealing someone’s body is for the greater good. Without these corpses to study, surgeons would have no understanding of how the human body works or how to save lives. Getting the surgeon’s perspective on this issue was great and necessary considering this was the heroine’s “job”.
What I was not a fan of here was the sensationalism that continued to crop up. The last third of the book really went over-the-top with it’s villain and violence. The villain was introduced late, and his actions towards women, seemed to come from nowhere and seemed to be added for shock value rather than for the sake of the plot. The grave robber Slee seemed to hate women, but the violence that was shown here felt out of place after reading the first two thirds of the book.
I also felt that there could have been greater development of the main characters. Lorna and Brandon were interesting and unique characters in the realm of historical romance and I would have loved for that to have been explored more. It was continually stated that they both had baggage, but I never really got the sense that their past experiences influenced their present actions.
The romance itself was fairly tame, and although I did feel that it was grounded in an instant attraction, I think the author did a good job of showing how this connection grew as these characters got to know one another. Personally, I would have liked to have spent a little more time with the characters after Lorna’s secrets were revealed, but it did resolve itself nicely.
Ultimately, Honor Among Thieves was a solid read in the historical romance genre and I appreciate the fact that this was a departure from the normal historical setting. If you can get past the over-the-top villain, I think readers will find the uniqueness of the plot interesting and refreshing.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
For similar reads, see my review of A Matter of Grave Concern.