They say it takes a thief to catch a thief, and Harrison Tate is proof. Once a professional burglar, he now makes a lawful living tracking down stolen art. No one needs to know about his secret sideline, “liberating” artifacts acquired through underhanded methods. At least until one of those jobs sees him walking in on a murder.
Gabrielle Wright has long been estranged from her wealthy family, but she didn’t kill her sister. Trouble is, the only person who can prove it is the sexy, elusive criminal who shouldn’t have been at the island estate on that terrible night. She’s not expecting honor among thieves—or for their mutual attraction to spark into an intense inferno of desire.
Under the guise of evaluating her family’s art, Harris comes back to the estate hoping to clear Gabby’s name. But returning to the scene of the crime has never been riskier, with their hearts and lives on the line.
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Harris Tate is a thief. While he has a legitimate career recovering stolen art, his secret passion is returning art objects to their rightful owners, the ones who don’t have the necessary legal paper trail to demand the return of their property. So, like a modern day Robin Hood, he steals back stolen art. While attempting one of his secret burglaries, he comes upon a gruesome scene, a badly injured woman taking her last breaths of life. His attempts at resuscitation are useless, and he hears another person coming onto the scene. As he hastily wipes away evidence of his being at the murder scene, then flees, he hears the anguished cries of Gabrielle Wright as she finds her dead sister’s body.
Over a year later, the murder is still unsolved, though speculation is high that Gabrielle was involved in her sister, Tabitha’s, death. Gabby’s uncle, in particular, is vocal in his accusation, and is actively trying to make sure she doesn’t inherit any of Tabitha’s wealth. Harris’ heart broke when he fled the murder scene and heard Gabby’s painful cries. He knows that she wasn’t guilty, but he can’t disclose what he knows without revealing his own criminal presence, and casting suspicion on himself. Harris has a very powerful friend with connections everywhere, who has arranged for Harris to return to the scene of the murder, Tabitha Island. Harris is undercover as an art appraiser, while his friend, Damon, is there as an investigator.
Gabby was a bit of a wild child as a teenager of wealthy parents. There was a mysterious kidnapping incident, which her parents believed she, herself, staged. This caused a rift between them, and caused them to disinherit her. Gabby became more responsible as she grew older, but her experiences have made her suspicious and leery of people professing to be her friend. Her “romantic” relationships have been superficial – physical only, with no emotions involved. Harris, too, is living a life that was shaped by his past, as his mother led a double life which, when exposed, blew his family apart. He has also avoided any emotional entanglements.
As Harris and Damon investigate the murder, Gabby and Harris embark on a very steamy affair. They are each confident that it will be the usual no-strings relationship, but they find something in each other that cries out for more. It was easy to root for these two damaged characters and to hope they could finally find a genuine love. The situation looks bleak, as they grow closer, Harris still hasn’t confessed his initial involvement to Gabby, and she detests deception. THE PRETENDER is set on a small island with a limited cast of suspects, making for an intense and suspenseful read. Gabby and Harris have an explosive chemistry with plenty of sexy scenes in this fast paced whodunit. I stepped into the middle of the GAMES PEOPLE PLAY series, about the Quint Five, and didn’t feel lost at all. THE PRETENDER can be read as a standalone, but I look forward to the upcoming conclusion, and I’ll be going back to pick up the three previous stories.