William Fox is attending a party organized by his twin sister, when he notices a gorgeous and alluring man. It turns out he is Amory Vaughn, billionaire head of the Vaughn family charitable foundation. Will can’t stop staring at Vaughn and his attention is definitely noticed, leading to a hot encounter between the men in a secluded corner of the party. Will isn’t much of a flirt or socializer, so he figures that is the last he will see of Vaughn. Until a painting that Will admired on the host’s wall ends up left outside of his apartment with a note from Vaughn. It is bad enough that Vaughn somehow stole the painting… it is even worse because Will is an FBI agent specializing in art crimes.
That should have been the end of any kind of relationship between the men. In fact, that should have led to Will arresting Vaughn for theft. But somehow, that opening gambit leaves Will even more drawn to Vaughn. Will is a by the book, controlled kind of guy. His world is black and white and he follows the rules and expects others to do so as well. Yet somehow, this engaging man who flaunts the rules draws Will in with a fierce connection and an amazing attraction. And when Vaughn promises no more stealing and no more manipulating, Will reluctantly gives a relationship a chance between them.
Vaughn and Will could not be more different, but somehow they bring out the best in one another. With some open mindedness and a little compromise, these men might just be able to find love and happiness together.
Oh, this story was just fabulous and I was drawn in from the start and left with the most glorious book hangover. I fell in love with Will and Vaughn and was so impressed by authors’ ability to create such rich and nuanced characters.
The story opens with the men meeting and the chemistry between them is palpable, the hook up intense. I loved the set up here with Vaughn as the thief who somehow manages to present his stolen goods right at the feet of an FBI agent. But while the story opens with a bit of a cops and robbers feel, this is primarily used to great effect as a meet cute between the men. This is not a suspense story or a crime caper and their respective cop and thief roles are used much more to develop the men’s characters than they are for building the plot.
The character development is where this story shines so brightly. It is something I have noticed in many of Parrish’s other works and enjoyed in the book I read of Gale’s as well. The plot here is fairly simple. Honestly, after these men meet and start dating, not much really happens. Normally, this would be the road to a not particularly interesting book, but these authors managed to draw me in right away and I could not put this one down, despite the relatively simple story line. That is because these characters are so fascinating, both individually and together, I couldn’t get enough of them.
Will is a guy who likes things black and white and expects the world to follow rules and recognize the difference between right and wrong. He holds himself accountable and expects the same of others, without compromise. Will isn’t stuffy or insufferable, he just has a clear moral code that guides him. Vaughn, on the other hand, grew up insanely wealthy with a heap of behavioral expectations placed upon him. At the same time, Vaughn knows quite well what money can buy you. He has power and influence and people vie for the chance to do his bidding. Vaughn is a realist who knows that the world doesn’t always work as it should, and if he can make things a little easier for himself and those he cares about, he doesn’t see any reason not to use his resources to make it happen. These two different life philosophies affect how both of these men react to the world and each other, and at times put them at odds. But what makes it work is that they care so deeply for one another. They both see this glimmer of happiness on the horizon, this sense that this may be something real and special. Will and Vaughn both crave that love and stability and true connection, and it is so rewarding to see them find it with each other.
The story is told in dual POV, something that also works quite well. It really helps us as readers get inside these guys’ heads and understand what drives them. The authors use this technique so cleverly, with little details that really showcase these men. For example, while Vaughn is not overly snobbishly elite, he is a man who has grown up with everything, and sometimes the mundane realities of scratchy, cheap hotel sheets or supermarket deli platters are something he can’t quite relate to. So in his POV, we get these great little details like Vaughn noting the breakfast includes Entenmanns pastires. This is something that wouldn’t even have registered on Will’s radar because it is so normal, but that Vaughn notices because it is something he would have never in his life been served. So there are such great little moments here where we really get to know both of these men.
The romance here is just delicious. These guys just care for one another so deeply, are drawn together so palpably. The are warm and romantic and crazy sexy (the blurb notes these guys get it on at pretty much every available surface and that is definitely the case). I just found myself falling in love right along with them. So if you are looking for a really well done, character driven novel, I strongly encourage you to give Heart of the Steal a chance. I can highly recommend it.