Heist by MJ Duncan is a story that illustrates the choices we make out of obligation, if not careful, can cost us the most valuable thing on this Earth: the love of a good woman. I have been a fan of Duncan’s since her debut in 2013. Every new story she has released has been a treat because I’ve been able to see the evolution of her writing. In Heist, I feel like Duncan has grown into her style by giving us an incredible story about loyalty, love, and, yes, stealing.
Parker Ravenscroft will always help her brother, Oliver, no matter the consequences. So, when a wealthy collector asks them to obtain some rare books using not-so-legal methods, Parker obliges because she knows the payout will help Oliver. It seems like an easy way to earn some cash, but when Sheridan Sloan re-enters Parker’s life, she starts to worry that maybe this heist won’t be so easy after all.
Sheridan Sloan is a no-nonsense FBI Agent with the Art Theft Division in the New York office. When the theft of a stolen painting has her crossing paths with her old college friend, Parker Ravenscroft, Sheridan can’t help but dive into those old feelings Parker stimulated from their days at Brown. But Sheridan has just gotten out of a heart-breaking relationship. She wants nothing more than friendship with Parker. At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself.
As Parker and Sheridan’s relationship grows from friendship to romantic, Parker realizes she will be forced to choose between her brother and her own future happiness. Will Parker choose Sheridan’s love over her own family? Or will Parker’s choices destroy the future she so badly wants with Sheridan?
Duncan was able to pull off the impossible and made a group of characters that I liked without question. And it all stems from the details she was able to give on each one. Take Parker for instance. While she has the know-how to pull off such an intricate heist, Duncan tells us about her growing up in the foster system and how she learned her craft in order to survive some of her harshest experiences. Even her most recent escapades of redistributing priceless collectibles to one specific buyer is stemmed from wanting to help Oliver get back on his feet after a rough year left him broke with a pile of bills. In a way, Parker embodies the spirit of Aladdin: yes, her activities are wrong, but her motivations and willingness to make amends later permits the reader to forgive her and actually want Parker to succeed.
On the other side of the law, we have Sheridan Sloan. From the beginning she appears as a no-nonsense FBI Agent who is all work and no play. However, the more you learn about Sheridan, the more it’s revealed that a lot of her motivations stem from a bad break-up. Even when she reconnects with Parker, she is reluctant to have anything go further than friendship because she’s not sure her heart could take another beating. Yet, as she and Parker discover more to their relationship, you see a woman who is funny, loves her job, loves the people around her, and has an endearing passion for art. She is the perfect match for Parker in wits and charisma. Even though Sheridan is unknowingly pursuing Parker in her investigation, the scenes between the two women are so charming and so genuine that you can’t help but wish Sheridan never discovers the truth about Parker.
The Writing Style
What I have always loved about Duncan’s writing style is her ability to write characters that intrigue the reader, introduce conflict, and provide a resolution that respects the story without excessive drama. In Heist, Duncan shows us the conflict of Parker. Parker’s plight is that she feels obligated to help Oliver steal these books. She is hesitant to do this, so the appeal to the reader is Parker being a reluctant participant. Duncan provides anticipation by having the possibility of Sheridan discovering the truth weighing on the minds of the reader. The closer Parker and Sheridan become, the more you hope for a resolution that is satisfying yet not overtly dramatic. This approach by Duncan is her staple in all of her stories. She is able to provide conflict, anticipation, and ultimately a resolution that satisfies the reader and is respectful to the world and characters she has created.
Never once did I question Parker’s desire for Sheridan. She does not introduce a trope that is often associated with this type of story, which is the press of information from the criminal to the law enforcement officer. In fact, Duncan goes out of her way to make sure the reader understands that Parker would never use Sheridan in that fashion. Outside of a couple of times Sheridan mentions the investigation in passing, there is no prompting on Parker’s part for Sheridan to give more information. It really made a difference because I don’t think I would’ve liked Parker if she had willingly asked for details. Kudos to Duncan for making such a distinct decision and making me love Parker even more because of it.
I really feel Duncan could have used another round of proof reading. There was phrasing, sentence structure, and grammatical errors that kind of jarred me from time to time.
I have enjoyed all of Duncan’s stories, but I feel Heist exemplifies the style she is known for and the culmination of all she has learned as a writer over the years. Heist pushes the boundaries by giving an intriguing conflict and an uncluttered outcome that leaves you feeling relieved. I urge you to pick this book up today. If you’re not a fan of MJ Duncan yet, you certainly will be after reading Heist.
Excerpt from Heist by MJ Duncan
The distinctive rumble of an incoming train from the north side of the tunnel announced the imminent arrival of Sheridan’s train. “I think your ride is here,” Parker murmured.
“Yeah,” Sheridan agreed, her right hand lightly grasping Parker’s forearm as she turned toward her. “Thank you for meeting me tonight.”
“It wasn’t a problem at all. I had a good time.”
“I did, too,” Sheridan sighed as the clatter of the train became louder, warning them that they were running out of time. She smiled shyly and, slowly, as if she were preparing herself to be turned down, held out her left arm as she took a small step into Parker’s space.
Parker smiled and pulled Sheridan into the hug she was offering. And, oh, it was, without a doubt, the stupidest thing she could have done, because there was no way for her to pretend that she didn’t notice how perfectly Sheridan fit in her arms…
Parker nodded as she watched Sheridan step onto the train just before the door whooshed shut. She waved as the train began to move, her stomach fluttering with happiness as she saw Sheridan do the same, and she blew out a soft breath once the train had disappeared into the dark tunnel. She shook her head as the sound of her train approaching reached her ears and huffed a sardonic laugh as she ran a hand through her hair.
“Wow. I am so fucked.”
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- ISBN number: 978186124973
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