Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Also by this author: Code of Conduct (Cipher Security, #1)
Series: Cipher Security #2
Source: Social Butterfly PR, Kindle Unlimited
A painting, a panic room, a thief, and her lover … whose job is to catch her.
There are three things you need to know about Anna.1) She’s a bounty hunter with adrenaline junkie habits,2) She’s the “awkward” twin, and3) She’s a thief – kind of.
Darius designs security systems for Cipher Security, and the strange and remarkable woman he met the night the painting was stolen is as intriguing a mystery as his hunt for the thief is.
But the lady has no filter, and she knows she can’t lie to the man who looks like a Disney Prince and kisses like fairytales are true, so she runs from the one person who may actually see her as the heroine of her own story.
Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but it does not influence my opinion of the book nor the contents of this review in any way.
Let me start by saying Penny Reid is one of my favorite authors. Now after reading that statement, you may be asking me, “Why the heck are you talking about the lovely and wonderful Ms. Reid when this is not her book?” To that I would say, you are correct! But you are also wrong. Ms. Reid an author and the founder of SmartyPants Romance, which is a kind of small publishing venture that she’s started up. Basically, other authors write extensions to her stories! No, that’s not right. Other authors write their own stories, just set in the Pennyverse, in the world she’s created and with character’s, she’s written about as side characters. That makes more sense, right?
Ms. Reid wrote the amazing Knitting in the City series, which follows the romance of each lady in a hilarious knitting group. One of the ladies, Jamie from Neanderthal Seeks Human, marries Quinn Sullivan, who owns Cipher Security Company, within which most of this book takes place. While she did originally create that world and those characters, we do see her main characters walking around in these other SmartyPants Romance books. Ms. Reid’s characters serve as nostalgic window dressing for fans like myself, and as great first-time characters for new readers – no prior experience required!
The best princesses are made of chaos and fairy dust, and they carry their own swords.
Back to the book – I really enjoyed it! Although it’s a romantic suspense novel, it also had a kind of cozy mystery vibe, which I totally dug! It follows Anna, a bounty hunter and twin sister who found a note from her estranged Aunt in the studio apartment which was Anna’s part of her Aunt’s inheritance. The note told Anna that back when she was in college with Anna’s mother and interns at a museum, they created a painting of each other that was stolen from them. She gives the name of the person who stole in the painting, in hopes that Anna could get that painting.
Of course, Anna, a straight-forward, adventurous daredevil who doesn’t know the words “no” or “I can’t,” has to try. So she hatches a plan with her twin to get inside the mansion’s panic room that holds the painting and steal it. This goes off without a hitch, except for the cute security expert who she flirted with. He knows it’s her, he just can’t confirm it.
Long story short… that guy is Gabriel, a Disney-Prince lookalike (Aladdin, who else?) who has a gentle heart, but iron-clad black-and-white values that Anna can’t fit into. They later end up working together to solve a museum heist… which was really freaking awesome!! Not only because it turned into a forced-proximity workplace-esque romance (which I dig), even though they’re sorta enemies working for the same team, and definitely kinda friends. The museum heist was so cool with all the art history and heisting-things, I had a blast reading this.
Who was this woman who spoke in non-sequiturs like they were an intelligible language, and was somehow both oddly innocent and utterly brazen?
Anna is quirky and fun and very imaginative, randomly spurting out facts or imaginary things as the thoughts vaguely cross her mind. She doesn’t feel comfortable being Feminine, but she does feel cozy scaling buildings, driving her motorcycle, or catching a bounty. My only issue was that as the romance seemed to progress, her personality kinda got squashed in the process. I don’t think it’s the romance that did it, I just think the author got so caught up in the heist and the romance, she forgot about Anna’s tendency to word-vomit, which suddenly dropped off at about 50 percent and didn’t pick back up.
That said, I still loved her personality. She also loves secret bookcase doors and was so comfortable in her own skin and so genuine, it was a thrill to watch. I can’t tell you how many times she’d make a comment on something and I’ve been like “I’ve thought that very thing before, how relatable??!”
It’s not a perfect romance, as there were some hiccups and some repetition, but it was highly enjoyable. I know I’ve said it a thousand times but THE HEIST!! Not to mention the side characters, which were a total blast! Although I do wish we’d have gotten to see more of Anna’s twin, she felt kind of disassociated from the story, which was surprising, given how close they were. All that aside, I really did like the romance, as it tenderly bubbled in the background of the plot, which was so engaging, it was like keeping an eye on each side of the tennis court, not wanting to miss a thing ? Also, this really made me want to play D&D!!! It just sounds so fun ? (Read my review of book 1)
Thank you SmartyPants Romance for the title, and of course to Social Butterfly PR for all the work that you do ?