Dear Ms. Kendall:
Avy Hunt is an art recovery agent for ARTemis. She breaks the law to obtain art that is taken by thieves. Her clients are art collectors, museums, and insurance companies. Her latest assignment is a plum one. She is to steal back the Sword of Alexander, rumored to the sword given to Alexander the Great by his father and used in the Battle of Issus in 333 B.C. The catch is that thief extraordinaire Liam James is purportedly holding the sword. Obtaining an object held by another thief is much harder than an ordinary owner and Avy loves the challenge.
The problem is that Liam is almost always one step ahead of Avy. While Avy is getting her assignment, Liam is casing her house so well that Avy never catches it. While Avy is on the plane to England, Liam is only a few rows behind her, disguised. Liam recognizes Avy’s disguise but Avy is blind to Liam’s. It’s this constant power disparity that made the book slip at a lot of points. For a great portion of the book, Avy was being put in her place by Liam despite her motto “I’ve never met a man I couldn’t handle.”
The second part of the story, Avy starts getting her respect back and it’s at that point the book starts winning me over. Liam is struck with reluctant admiration and their match seems much more equal. Although, overall, I felt Avy was outmaneuvered by Liam on a fairly regular basis.
The About the Author section says that you were an art history major and that was evident in the story. I loved the art references that weren’t the most commonly known ones and felt that those parts gave rich detail to the story. I thought it was particularly inventive that the love scenes featured Avy posing in different positions of famous nudes.
The secondary plot featuring Avy’s best friend and co worker’s attempt to recover a little and frustrating dog was very lighthearted and didn’t seem to fit the overall tone of the main story nor did it seem to do anything but set up Gwen’s story at a later date. I think that the secondary plot was to provide a bit of comic relief, but for me, it was out of step. I would have liked a bit more integration in the main plot line, either in theme or character arc or something.
The emotional conflict was touched on but not developed enough for my taste. Avy is a law and order kind of gal who believes she is on the right side of the law by stealing wrongfully obtained goods. Her father was a US Marshall. Liam steals from everyone for his own gain, either because he wants a piece of art or because he is being paid to obtain it. Avy’s belief in right and wrong is tested by Liam. In order for them to be together, one will have to change. I liked this conflict but felt that it wasn’t given enough attention, particularly in the beginning of the story.
This was an enjoyable read, though, despite the flaws and I would read another ARTemis story because you are clearly trying to present a strong female oriented point of view. Liam as the laconic British charmer is a nice foil. C+