1914 – Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former orphan-urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets—now they concentrate on stealing high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary is given an assignment by a mysterious Mr. V to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?Peter Holstein is awkward at best in society. Stuttering and stammering as he does, no one ever would have expected him to gain the ear of the king…and given his family’s German blood, he knows there are plenty who are unhappy that he has, which is why his popular series of adventure novels are written under a pen name. With European politics boiling, Peter settles into his country estate debating whether the time has come to distance himself from his German roots and perhaps even change his name as the King is considering doing—and when a historian shows up at his door offering to help him trace his family history, he views the bookish Miss Gresham as a gift from God. Perhaps she can help him find proof that the Holsteins have always been friends of England and the Saxe-Coburg family that rules there. And perhaps they can manage it before suspicion in the small village he calls home reaches a fever pitch and sees his family home ruined.The more Rosemary learns about the Holsteins, the more she thinks Mr. V sorely mistaken in his suspicions…and the more she comes to hate herself. These are a noble family and this a noble man—and though she always thought she’d do anything for pounds sterling, she finds herself fighting against the rabble trying to ruin him when war is declared rather than lending them a hand. Especially when she discovers that he is the writer behind the books that have inspired all of England. She doesn’t have it in her to steal his good name…but what are the chances that she’ll manage to steal his heart before he discovers who and what she really is?
I am so incredibly super-duper excited about this series! The next books in the series will follow other members of Rosemary's "family." In each story, the thief will find redemption as Mr. V sends them out on missions to claim things that hands cannot really hold or steal--a good name, music, beauty, time. All will draw on how arts were used as propaganda during WWI, and pull on some of the most interesting advances and peculiarities of the war. Each will also stand completely on its own, with no reference to the previous books.
And for fun, each one will also have a ridiculous challenge issues by the other members of the family. In The Name Thief, Rosemary's older brother challenges her to steal a manor house. So naturally, she tries to figure out how to steal Peter's home, along with his name. Subsequent books will up the ante each time, and give the thief/hero something to pursue along with the job Mr. V assigns.
If anyone is interested in knowing what Peter and Rosemary and his manor house, Kensey Manor, looks like, I just made my Pinterest board public! You can check it out here.