How to Shield an Assassin (Book 1)
If you love heist stories, you should read this book. If you love the television show Leverage, you should read this book. If you adore found family stories, you should read this book. If precocious children in fiction don’t annoy you too much, you should read this book.
Honestly, you should all probably read this book to be on the safe side.
Everything in this story is just pitched a little to the left of reality to be believable. It was a ton of fun to suspend my disbelief and roll with the action. It felt a bit like reading fan fiction in that Remi was just a bit too perfect, all the adults are queer, and these are genuinely villains with hearts of gold. Most importantly, the evident love and affection the author had for this story rolled off the page, which made me enjoy it all the more.
The first section of the book deals with Ari and his adoption of Remi, which ends up bringing him closer to the thief and hacker he’s worked with in the past. These connections make it easier for the full team-up later when Carter approaches Ari for help with a heist. The relationship that develops between the two men (with only a little manipulation on Remi’s part) is both sweet and hesitant, as befits two men in their respective professions. I appreciated that more than if they had immediately thrown off all boundaries to live happily ever after.
In short, I’m glad I took a chance on this book, and I’ve already purchased the sequel. Can’t give higher praise than that.
How to Steal a Thief (Book 2)
Sherwood is back with another action-packed contemporary romance that is sure to please fans of Leverage, those who enjoy the found-family trope, and “villains” who are more concerned with doing good than the expected.
Ivan is as surprised as anyone else with the strength of his reaction to Aiden’s situation. He could have played into Aiden’s vulnerabilities and achieve a score to impress any thief, but Aiden’s precariousness instead helps him accomplish the book’s title concept. In true heist nature, the relationship exists before the emotions exist to back it up. However, once the emotions fall into place (pushed by Ivan and Aiden’s shared poor luck in their family histories), this arc between the characters is as enjoyable to watch play out as the external plot. In fact, the story seems to focus more on the relationship arc than the search for the original score that brings them together, resulting in a book that is less tense than the first in the series and more overall fun.
Ivan’s found family of hacker, assassin, mercenary, and precocious adopted niece immediately step into to assist with changing circumstances. Checking in with Ari and Carter a year into their relationship was lovely. Kyou’s hacking assistance is 100 percent off-screen, but he’s as physically present as any other character through the main action of the book. (I can’t wait for his love story, which we get more hints of in this book, but which is unfortunately not yet released at the time of writing this review.)
I don’t know anything about theft or guns or hacking, but I do know a bit about how a person applies to a medical residency. And it resembles nothing of what Aiden deals with in this book, a minor lack of research that frequently drew me out of the story. Certainly not enough to keep me from anxiously awaiting the conclusion to this trilogy, but more a comment that you never know what will distract a reader from an otherwise fantastic and streamlined adventure.