The Heart of the Steal by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish (audiobook) – Narrated by Kirt Graves and Iggy Toma

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Responsible, disciplined William Fox channeled his love for art and his faith in the rules into being an FBI Art Crimes agent. Right and wrong, justice and injustice – the differences are clear, and Will has spent his career drawing a line between them. Maybe his convictions have cost him relationships, but he’s not willing to compromise what he knows is right. Until the night he meets Amory Vaughn.

As the head of his family’s philanthropic foundation, Vaughn knows very well that being rich and powerful can get him almost anything he wants. And when he meets endearingly grumpy and slightly awkward William Fox, he wants him more than he’s wanted anything. Vaughn is used to being desired for his name and his money, but Will doesn’t care about either.

When Vaughn falls back on old habits and attempts to impress Will by stealing a painting Will admires, their nascent bond blows up in his face. But Vaughn isn’t willing to give up on the glimpse of passion he saw the night he took Will apart. Before Will knows it, he’s falling for the man he should have arrested, and Vaughn has to realize that some things can’t be bought or stolen. Love has to be given freely. But can a man who lives by the rules, and a man who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, ever see eye to eye?

Rating: Narration – A : Content – B

Heart of the Steal is the first (and so far, only) collaboration between popular m/m romance authors Avon Gale and Roan Parrish. I confess that I haven’t yet read or listened to anything by either author, but this sounded interesting, and when it popped up at Audible with the names of two experienced narrators attached, I decided to give it a whirl. The synopsis led me to think the story would be some sort of light-hearted cat-and-mouse caper featuring a billionaire philanthropist who succumbs to the occasional instance of light fingers, and a starchy FBI art crimes specialist. But while that dichotomy is the catalyst for the romance, the bulk of the novel consists basically of a well-put together love story between opposites, two men from very different worlds and social backgrounds who struggle to work out how – and even if – they can fit into each other’s lives. Maybe if I’d read the book I might have been a little disappointed, but Kirt Graves and Iggy Toma deliver such fabulously engaging performances that I was happy to just go with the flow and let them take me wherever they – and the story – wanted me to go!

Will Fox isn’t exactly overjoyed at being dragged to a party by his twin sister, Charlotte. It’s the end of a long week, he’s tired, and making small talk with the super-rich isn’t his idea of a fun evening, but Charlotte’s event planning company has catered the party so he goes along to support her. Part way through the evening, she points out new arrival Amory Vaughn, one of the wealthiest men in the country and head of the Vaughn Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that administers and contributes to a number of charities. Vaughn is gorgeous – striking, well-dressed, urbanely charming, with a southern drawl that was pure old money – and Will can’t take his eyes off him, embarrassed when he’s caught staring and completely unable to return the flirtatious wink Vaughn sends his way. When Vaughn starts making his way towards him, Will bolts; he’s terrible at flirting and has no wish to make an idiot of himself, so he heads downstairs to take in the host’s art collection – but isn’t alone for long. Vaughn makes clear his interest very quickly, and Will is helpless to resist the pull of the attraction that’s been zinging between them ever since they made eye-contact. It’s the hottest sexual encounter of his life – and likely to be the only one they’ll ever share.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.