cover image The Duke Heist

The Duke Heist

Erica Ridley. Forever, $8.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1952-7

With this entrancing Regency, Ridley (Forever Your Duke) introduces the Wild Wynchesters series, named for a found family of six orphans—each with a useful if disreputable talent—who were long ago adopted by the late Baron Vanderbean and now live together as adult vigilantes on the fringes of London’s polite society. Chloe Wynchester, an accomplished pickpocket able to blend into any setting, is determined to recover a painting stolen from her family by the late Duke of Faircliffe. When she learns that Lawrence Gosling—the new duke, who hopes to marry into the money needed to restore his family’s honor—plans to give the painting to his intended, Chloe infiltrates the woman’s social circle to steal it back. But things don’t go to plan: the painting is a fake, and Chloe inadvertently abducts Lawrence, thinking his carriage is her getaway vehicle. Lawrence agrees to owe Chloe a favor if she promises not to tarnish his reputation by revealing that they were alone together, and Chloe uses his gratitude to continue hunting for the missing painting—but soon learns that behind Lawrence’s stuffy façade is a man just as intelligent, passionate, and delightfully silly as she is. Their affecting romance is grounded in push and pull, but the real star of the show is the love the Wynchesters have for one another. This lighthearted paean to shunning respectability is a knockout. (Feb.)