How to Steal a Thief's Heart - Bree Wolf by Bree Wolf

About the Book





An unusual wallflower. A knight of the road.

And a moment that changed all they thought they knew.

Devoted to the children at her orphanage, Miss Caroline Hawkins hides her beauty behind thick spectacles and drab clothing in order to remain unwed…and free to do as she pleases. While her parents would love nothing more than to see her well married, Caroline is determined to live life on her own terms, refining her disguise to perfection in order to scare off suitors. For years, she’s lived in the shadows of society, unnoticed by the crème de la crème of the ton…

…until Lord Markham, a.k.a. the Black Baron, takes a closer look and realizes that there is more to mousy Miss Hawkins than meets the eye.

Pierce Byrne, Baron Markham, detests English society for their selfish disdain and complete disregard for others. Thus, to even the odds, to give back at least a little, Pierce dons a black mask at night and sets out to rob his fellow peers in order to do what is right…

…until one night when he comes upon yet another carriage and finds a highly unusual woman inside. A woman with a secret of her own. A woman he’s met before.

Determined to uncover her secret, Pierce follows her and before he knows it, all he thought he knew is called into question as a mousy wallflower upends his world…and steals his heart.





Prologue





London 1805 (or a variation thereof)

Seven Years Earlier

The marketplace was abuzz with people, vendors promoting their wares, children running around laughing and shouting as well as lords and ladies promenading along the stalls, inspecting the latest fabrics newly arrived from France. The sun shone brightly overhead and, yet, a small breeze stirred the air, carrying a hint of the sea’s breath. Delicious smells mingled with the salty touch, and thirteen-year-old Caroline Hawkins gazed over the assortments of chocolate and marzipan candies, licorice, chewy caramels, dried fruits, gingerbread and sugared almonds.

Dressed in a cheerful rose-colored gown, her golden-brown hair dancing in little ringlets down to her shoulders, Caroline strolled by the many stalls, her governess on her heels, while her mother, Mrs. Mildred Hawkins, daughter to Baron Hunsford and wife to Mr. Conrad Hawkins, third son of a wealthy merchant family, continued to peruse the fabrics on display on the other side of the market. “These look delicious,” Caroline commented, her blue eyes wide as she surveyed the assortments.

With a smile, her governess purchased a small variety of the sweetmeats before they proceeded farther along the stalls lining the outer rim of the market.

Smiles and laughter met her, and Caroline enjoyed seeing the many cheerful faces around her. It was indeed a perfect day.

Or it would have been had her gaze not moved to the narrow gap between two stalls and fallen on a small, dirty face with wide green eyes. The little girl huddled near the ground, her head lowered and her back bent. Her hair was a mangled mess, sticking out in all directions and her clothes looked as though they might fall off her frail body at any moment.

Caroline paused, strangely intrigued by the wide eyes staring back at her for what she saw in them was an odd mix of fear and determination.

“Come along, Miss Hawkins,” her governess addressed her. “Your mother is awaiting us over there.”

Nodding absentmindedly, Caroline found her feet moving along and thus, a moment later, the sight of the little girl vanished, hidden behind large crates stacked by the adjacent stall. Still, those green eyes stayed with Caroline, and she no longer paid the hustle-bustle around her any attention.

“Oh, Caroline, there you are!” her mother greeted her as they met at a ribbon stall. “Look, this velvet blue one looks stunning, does it not?” She held the delicate fabric up against her daughter’s shining hair. “You’ll look beautiful in it, my dear.”

Again, Caroline nodded, a small smile tugging on her lips as she met her mother’s luminous gaze. “Yes, it is lovely.” And it was. Any other day, Caroline would have been happy to discover it. However, in that moment, all she could think about were those wide green eyes. Who was that little girl? And how—?

“Then you shall have it,” her mother exclaimed as her hand brushed a ringlet from her daughter’s temple. “Oh, only imagine, in but a few years, you’ll be out in society.” A deep sigh left her lips. “Gentlemen will vie for your hand in marriage. You’ll be a lady and have all the gowns and ribbons your heart desires.”