Page count: 368 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: March 26th, 2011
Date finished: March 27th, 2011
Gideon Cole is very close to achieving his "master plan". He's working as a brilliant barrister and making quite a name for himself among the ton of London (most of whom have no idea that he rarely, if ever makes much money winning cases left, right and centre). He just needs a little bit of cash to put down a deposit on a grand town house, so he can propose to the incomparable Lady Constance, daughter of a Viscount, and once his uncle, who's been dying for years, finally croaks, he'll have a title and an estate to support his intended in the style to which she is accustomed. He's getting a bit worried at Lady Contance's preference for one of the handsome young Lords, though, whose got a title, tons of money and perfectly passable looks, and may steal the lady away from Gideon if he doesn't work fast.
On his way to sign the contract for the town house, Gideon ends up paying his remaining thirty pounds (which he needed for the deposit) to a furious gentleman intent on harming a female pickpocket. Gideon recognizes the young woman who tried to pick his pocket the day before, but can't stand to see a woman being hurt, so pays the man to let her go. Remembering his friend's advice that what Lady Constance really needs to start noticing how promising Gideon is as a match is a rival of her own, Gideon hatches a plan. Miss Lily Masters is clearly a very pretty young woman, and after a short time spent in her company, Gideon is assured that she's been raised well and has fairly good manners. He just needs a few weeks to turn the pickpocket into a lady of the ton, and then he will have everything he ever dreamed of.
Lily is a fiercely protective sister, she's smart, she's capable, she's kind and she's observant. She's desperately trying to make ends meet, and to begin with, she hates Gideon for forcing her to work for him, and taking her and her little sister to his uncle's country estate, where they experience luxury unlike anything they've ever seen before. Lily knows that she'll only be acting the lady until Gideon wins Lady Constance, and then she'll have to explain to her sister why they're destitute again. Yet as she gets to know him, through spending time with him and speaking to the other people in his life, his uncle, his best friend, the servants of the estate, that he is a very good man and has been driven to make something of himself, to the expense of everything else.
To Love a Thief is a take on Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, where while trying to turn a street urchin into a lady, the cultured gentleman falls in love with his charge. Julie Anne Long writes delightful characters, and there are so many great scenes in this book. I very much enjoyed it, and am absolutely going to check out more of Julie Anne Long's back catalogue.