Book Review: The Thief Taker by William Holden

The Thief Taker
by William Holden
Thomas Newton #2
M/M Historical/Erotica
Bold Stroke Books
Review copy from Netgalley
3 Stars


Fleeing London, Thomas Newton reaches Paris full of hopes for a new life with Pierre Baptiste. The hopes are quickly shattered. There are unsettling rumors about Pierre’s past and very real threats in the present. Arrested on false charges, thrown into a dank prison, Thomas must decide whether he can trust Pierre’s help to winning back his freedom. But freedom will bring other risks, especially if it requires a return to London and all that he fled. The men from his past whom he betrayed—and who might well want revenge. His avowed enemies, the bigots that chased him across the channel. And, worst of all, everything he doesn’t know about his family. To survive, he will have to play both sides of the life—as a thief taker.



When I started this book, it felt as I had been dropped in a story that had already started and I was a bit lost. Looking on Goodreads, I realised it was a sequel, so that explained a few things.

The first quarter or so of the book takes place in a horrible prison and asylum where Thomas Newton is thrown into on false charges.

Now, I did realise this was an erotica story before I started, but the sex scenes in the prison squicked me completely (not because of the sex scenes, LOL!) but because all I could keep thinking of was the rats and the filth, with Thomas beaten, half-starved, dying of thirst, almost raped at the hands of a different prisoner and yet he still wanted to have sex? It just seemed off to me. Maybe it's a male thing, I don't know.

The parts in the prison were so awful and depressing, angst heaped upon angst, and I wasn't sure I could keep reading, but once Thomas was freed by his friend Pierre Baptiste, things started looking up.

They returned to London to try and find out who had arranged for Thomas to be sent to that awful place in Paris and discover more than they bargained for.

I've never heard of the Society for the Reformation of Manners before, which appears in the book, but on further research it seems to have been set up to act as moral guardians and get people arrested who didn't fit in with their views, such as prostitutes and homosexual men. Sodomy was a capital offence then, so Thomas and his friends were rightly in fear of the noose.

I liked Thomas as a character, even though he has done some things in the past to save his own skin, but he is still a sympathetic character.

The book is a mix of action/mystery and erotica, with it landing heavily on the erotica side. I found myself skimming some of the sex scenes to get to the next part of the mystery :) The erotica is on the harder side than most of the M/M historicals I've read, with a lot more explicit and earthy language. I have one major quibble with the sex scenes, in nearly every one Thomas uses the word 'ass'. He's British, I don't think he would use 'ass' in that context, and it really jarred me out of the scenes altogether.

It was an interesting book, well-written and true to the historical aspect as far as I could tell, but I think readers would enjoy it more by reading the previous book in the series first. There are hints as to what has happened previously, so you aren't completly lost, but I think it would have added more depth if I'd read the previous one first.

If you like your m/m erotica with a bit of a harder edge, then this might be for you.



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