15 November 2014

Honor Among Thieves by Elizabeth Boyce

Hello everyone,

Hopefully you’re all enjoying the weekend and have managed to find some time to relax with a good book. I myself spent the morning reading while my two dogs sprawled out my bed like they owned the place. The book I read was Honor Among Thieves by Elizabeth Boyce and as soon as I finished it I knew I had to write a review of it.

The book:

Grave robbing ain’t no job for a lady… 

To pay off her recently deceased brother’s debts, however, Lorna Robbins must take drastic measures. When she happens upon a resurrectionist gang stealing his corpse, she does the unthinkable and joins the criminal outfit to save her family estate and her younger sibling. For the first time in her lonely, duty-driven life, Lorna finds herself leading a treacherous and exciting double existence. By day, she becomes a popular lady of the ton, relying on society gossip to help her body-snatching gang. By night, she becomes the grave robber known only as the Blackbird.

Surgeon and anatomy teacher Brandon Dewhurst relies on resurrectionists to bring him the specimens he needs to further his research on pregnancy. When his usual suppliers become unreliable, and then downright sinister, he’s reluctantly drawn further into the black market. As Lorna and Brandon both target the same body—a pregnant woman who is still very much alive—they find themselves powerfully drawn together time and again while trying to maintain their own respectable facades. But this daring duo is courting danger, and romance is a complication neither can afford.

My thoughts:

I know this is a book that will stay with me long after I finished reading it. The writing, the character development and the plot were all superb but these are not the main reasons why this book will stick in my memory. It was the world that Elizabeth Boyce chose as her setting for Honor Among Thieves, the underbelly or dark-side to Edwardian medical advances.

Set in 1816 this book exposes the reader to the familiar world of the ton in only brief glimpses; it isn’t a historical romance about ballroom dances, dashing dukes and blushing debutantes. Instead, from the very first chapter the reader is shown a world were morality becomes a decidedly grey area with both Brandon and Lorna being drawn further and further into the seedy world of Edwardian grave robbing.

“He lived amongst the dead and fought to save the dying. He had seen men’s intestines spill from their bellies and had sawed off limbs without flinching while his patients screamed. There was little left in the surgical world that bothered him, but the pregnant ones got him every time

I loved reading about this world with its gruesome and realistic portrayals of resurrectionists in the early eighteen-hundreds, a world that Elizabeth Boyce doesn't shy away from describing. At the same time it did make me feel slightly queasy, particularly when the plot more heavily focused on the deaths of pregnant women whose bodied were required afterwards for science. I thought this world was the perfect backdrop to Brandon and Lorna’s love story because it meant they understood each other. Neither were completely happy or comfortable with the world of the resurrectionists or the work they did but at the same time it was seen as necessary for medical advancement. As Lorna tells Brandon:

“You’re a rare man, Brandon Dewhurst,’ she went on. ‘Not many could do your work. It’s necessary, even the distasteful parts”.

Lorna was a fantastic heroine and the feminist inside me loved her bravery and spirit. She didn’t care about society but instead was completely focused on providing for her half-brother Daniel and would do anything necessary to protect and care for him. Similarly Brandon is more concerned with helping people through being a surgeon than his with being a minor member of the English nobility. I would highly recommend Honor Among Thieves if you want to read a gritty, unusual historical romance.

My rating:
Happy reading and see you next time!