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Publisher's Summary

Set in a new world of corruption, deceit and thievery; mixing magical fantasy and alchemy punk with a healthy smattering of airshippery. It Takes a Thief to Catch a Sunrise follows Jacques Revou and Isabel de Rosier, a couple of charlatans at the top of their game.

After completing the biggest heist of their career, Jacques and Isabel are ready to retire, until the king's shadow councilor freezes their assets and forces them to work for him. Jacques and Isabel find themselves thrust into the social elite, playing the parts of Baron and Baroness Bonvillain, as they attempt to uncover a plot that threatens the entire kingdom.

©2014 Rob J. Hayes (P)2016 Rob J. Hayes

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

This is a fun heist caper with duels and romance.

Isabel and Jacques are lively and engaging characters, adventurous and creative thieves. The couple were all set to retire in comfort with the spoils of their biggest and ‘last’ heist. Then one night they find intruders in their new home. They are confronted by a mysterious, supposedly cripple man and his male and female body guards or goons. The man is the king’s shadow councilor who has frozen all of Jacques and Isabel’s assets to force them to do his bidding. They must pose as a couple known for dueling skills - Baron and Baroness Bonvillain. They are to infiltrate the local nobility to ferret out suspected conspirators who are threats to the king, queen and the newly announced, unborn heir.

Jacques and Isabel are used to play acting, so assuming the roles is not such a problem. And they are pleased with the nice mansion they are provided to decorate and occupy. But the nobility are nicer than their strong arming boss and the bodyguards who are trying to teach them to shot and fight. The problem is that Jacques has no aptitude for shooting. Plus, the ‘Baron and Baroness’ are actually making friends with some of the people they are spending time with until one of them challenges ‘the Baron’ to a duel to the death!

Jacques and Isabel do uncover a conspiracy, but it isn’t the one they expect. Looks like they need to plan a heist to save their own hides from assassination. Jacques finally gets to ride in the steamships he’s been obsessing over, if only he can keep it from being their last ride.

The story has wonderful banter and energy. Isabel and Jacques are clearly in love and willing to take risks for excitement but they have their own standards of thievery. There were good twists and bits of irony. There was good pacing although there were also some issues raised that weren’t fully explained like the mystery of the Ooze – little worms seeming to ooze and grow in the sewer tunnels.

This is a fun fantasy with steampunk airships, duels and fun romance elements. I recommend this to readers who enjoy those elements with a good conspiracy romp. This is the first story I have read by Mr. Hayes but it won’t be the last.

Audio Notes: The narration is excellent. Schatzie Schaefers provides a wonderful performance of the primary characters, conveying their energy and love. She does a good job with all the other characters too. The narration enhanced my enjoyment of the fun story.

I received this audio book from the author. My rating 4.5.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable story!

Isabel de Rosier and Jacques Revou are thieves, they are the best in the business and have accomplished pretty amazing heists. Nothing compares to their last one, which they did so that they could retire in comfort. One day a man named Renard Daron approached them and said that he had frozen their bank account and assets and the only way to get them back was to do a job for him. They have no choice but to accept.

Plot wise, this isn't exactly action packed, but it moves along at a good pace. It was well written and developed and I enjoyed the kind of steampunk, old Victorian feel to it. I enjoyed the kind of "spy" feeling too. It would make an awesome movie :)

I think what makes this book are the characters!! Isabel and Jacques were such an awesome couple. They are totally devoted to each other and it showed. I loved seeing them together!! I also loved when they were in their "other" personas! They are both excellent actors :)

In all, this was a fun and enjoyable book. Filled with amazing characters and a book that will grab you from the start, it is a good book to start a series with. I really can't wait to see more of the fantastic Isabel and Jacques!!!

Now, unfortunately I wasn't too impressed with the narrator choice. Her tones were kind of..... ridiculous to be honest. I don't know what she was thinking when she spoke as Renard Daron. I know he had a gravelly tone, but the narrator shouldn't have tried to replicate it as it wasn't very good nor pleasant to listen to. I was doing a lot of eye rolling, and I have to say, that it was a very near DNF for me. I think she tried to hard and it didn't turn out well.

*I received a free copy of this but voluntarily reviewed it. This in no way affected nor influenced my thoughts.*

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • CT
  • Ashland, Ky USA
  • 03-01-18

Awesome stuff

I'm a huge fan of Rob J. Hayes' writing. I am waiting with anticipation for his Ties That Bind books to return to print as I maintain they are some of the best grimdark fantasy which has come out in the past few years and the best produced by Ragnarok Publications. So, when I heard he was working on a second series, I was intrigued and immediately picked up a copy.

The premise of the novel was surprising as it's a steampunk fantasy version of Regency Europe. It avoids the usual Medieval fantasy setting as well as the Hyborian Age mismash so common in fantasy but is also a good century or two before steampunk is usually popularized. England and France-like nations are set against one another with airships on one side as well as spellcasters on the others. The spellcasters, unfortunately, have the advantage and it's kept Sassaile from conquering its neighbor Arkland.

Jacques Revou and Isabel de Rosier are a pair of extraordinarily skilled con men and cart burglars who possess Lupin the Third levels of ability to bullmanure their way out of situations. Jacques is a alchemist of no small skill and capable of creating any number of devices or effects to assist their cons while Isabel is a master of disguise as long as said disguise is someone gorgeous. They're deeply in love and play off each other in a hilarious style, even as they're nearing retirement despite being in the prime of their lives.

The lovers-in-crime hit a brick wall, though, when Sassaile's spymaster proceeds to confiscate their accumulated fortune and dragoons them into the secret service. The protagonists HATE this even as they're forced to become spies in the Arkland court with the knowledge they're probably going to be executed no matter how well they do. What follows is a complicated story about the couple trying to play their masters against the nation they're spying on which wants to execute them while looking for an out. It all ends with an amazing airship story, frustrated love, and a bunch of humorous twists.

The book is not remotely like the Ties That Bind, lacking the gruesome murder of moral ambiguity which made that story so good. Indeed, it may be a little too much on the lighthearted side for me. Despite this, I enjoyed it as an adventure story and the humor kept it a breezy read from start to finish. I would have appreciated some more moral ambiguity and, honestly, I was on Renard's side against the Queen but that didn't reduce my enjoyment factor one bit.

This is a good novel for anyone who wants to enter into the steampunk setting and works well as a non-traditional fantasy novel. It's certainly well-worth the money and I'm surprised to see such range in any author as normally you wouldn't expect someone who did such dark fiction as The Colour of Vengeance to do something as relentlessly cheerful. I think the books are something akin to a brighter Gentleman Bastards and would recommend them to fans of Scott Lynch.

In conclusion, I recommend this book all round and don't have any real complaints about it. I've bought the second book in the series and hope to get to it immediately. It may not be the best book I've ever read but it's simply FUN and that goes a long way.

9/10