Heart of the Steal
by Avon Gale & Roan Parrish
Publisher: Philtre Press
Release Date (Print & Ebook): July 11th, 2017
Length (Print & Ebook): about 80K words
Subgenre: Contemporary queer romance
Links on author sites:
Responsible, disciplined William Fox channeled his love for art and his faith in the rules into being an FBI Art Crimes agent. Right and wrong, justice and injustice—the differences are clear, and Will has spent his career drawing a line between them. Maybe his convictions have cost him relationships, but he’s not willing to compromise what he knows is right. Until the night he meets Amory Vaughn.
As the head of his family’s philanthropic foundation, Vaughn knows very well that being rich and powerful can get him almost anything he wants. And when he meets endearingly grumpy and slightly awkward William Fox, he wants him more than he’s wanted anything. Vaughn is used to being desired for his name and his money, but Will doesn’t care about either.
When Vaughn falls back on old habits and attempts to impress Will by stealing a painting Will admires, their nascent bond blows up in his face. But Vaughn isn’t willing to give up on the glimpse of passion he saw the night he took Will apart. Before Will knows it, he’s falling for the man he should have arrested, and Vaughn has to realize that some things can’t be bought or stolen. Love has to be given freely. But can a man who lives by the rules, and a man who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, ever see eye to eye?
Heart of the Steal is a standalone romance with a happy ending. It features a Southern gentleman who thinks he’s always right, a buttoned-up FBI agent who secretly likes his buttons unbuttoned, and wall sex. And desk sex. And picnic blanket sex.
Quotes from the authors about the book:
“Writing this book with Roan was so much fun! It was a joy to create these characters and take them on a journey to their hard-earned HEA. Even if we had to suffer some pretty bad hotel breakfasts of our own.” --Avon Gale
“I adored writing with Avon. It felt like I got to crack open her skull and peek at her brain. Which is my idea of heaven :)” --Roan Parrish
Will shook his head in frustration, his irritation clear. I could work with irritation. One strong emotion would do just as well as another. “Don’t act like we’re close. Like you know me. Like you know what things I like and who I am. Because you don’t.”
“But I’d like to. I’d like to know who you are inside and out. I wanted to see you again.”
I’d banked on the same spark that had flared to life in my study after Val’s wedding reigniting, if I could just get William close to me again.
I let go of the check then and it fluttered to the floor at our feet. Will glared at me, eyes wide, cheeks flushing. He stooped and snatched the check up, slapping it down on the desk and whirling back around to face me.
“You think that you can do anything, get away with anything, because you’re rich and privileged and handsome,” he spat out, though his lip twitched at “handsome,” suggesting he hadn’t meant to include it in his list of offenses. “But it doesn’t work that way. Eventually, things catch up with you. Eventually, you make a mistake and give the game away. Eventually, you get caught. And I’m going to be there when you do.”
He’d closed the distance between us and I could smell him: inexpensive aftershave and soap, and a hint of stale, after-work sweat clinging to his clothes. It was the smell I imagined was associated with the first kiss after a lover walked in the door. The kiss that said, I’m so happy to be done with work and home, here, with you. The kiss that said, I’ll go change and then we can start our evening together. The kisses I’d thought about enough that they felt real, but never actually had.
“You’re here now,” I murmured, mostly to myself. I’d lost the thread of the conversation a bit, distracted by thinking about William coming home to…me. I wasn’t sure where the thought had come from. I wasn’t the coming-home-to type, or so I’d been told by enough lovers I assumed they must be onto something.
But William’s eyes were narrowed and his color was high and his breath was audible. Either he was about to hit me, or—
The kiss hit me like a fist, and I had to grab him around the shoulders to keep from pitching backward under the onslaught. I allowed myself the briefest moment of victory that my plan had worked, and then I sank into the kiss. His mouth had the slightly sharp bite of coffee, but that gave way almost immediately to the warm caramel taste that was Will’s alone. It was sugar and heat and richly turning leaves and I opened my mouth, desperate for more of it.
Not only did I get a kick out of this story, there were quite a few times it made me *swoon*. The majority of the time, I see things very black and white, particularly when it comes to rules and laws—in that way, it was so easy for me to identify with Will in this story. When Vaughn comes into his life, Will begins to question himself because of his feelings for the man—particularly regarding Vaughn’s not so black-and-white view of life.
The chemistry between these two men is well off the charts, and their encounters hot enough to fall into erotic territory (holy cripes, the scene in Will’s childhood bedroom…). The two easily slide into an emotional, comfortable and deeply satisfying relationship as if it was meant to be, and despite their conflicting moral views it all feels perfectly natural. Just watching as Will and Vaughn’s relationship develops and flourishes made me feel happy, which made the conflict when it arose near the end of the story all the more distressing.
Contrary to what I’d expected from reading the blurb, the art stealing actually only comes into play for a portion of the story (maybe the first third or so) before smoothly transitioning to the evolution of Will and Vaughn’s relationship. While at first that threw me off, I actually found the relationship side of things quite satisfying as it was emotional and it felt gratifying to watch the two of them fall in love.
The angst factor is not really very high for most of the story, with the exception of the drama near the end. It’s sweet, incredibly sexy, and the real conflict is from the characters questioning themselves because the person they love has different values from their own.
This book? I loved it, it’s one I know I’ll be re-reading in the future (regardless of the zillion other unread books on my TBR list I need to make time to read), and it’s one to which I’m giving 5 stars and a top recommendation. I loved these characters, I loved their love story, and the writing is some of the best I’ve read in a collaboration. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and explicit, erotic sexual content (and there I go picturing that childhood bedroom scene again…). Buy it, read it, you’ll love it.
About the authors:
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
Connect with Roan:
Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.
Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.
At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.
Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
Connect with Avon: