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Crooked Hearts [Kindle Edition]

Patricia Gaffney
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Two con artists team up in 1880s California for the score of a lifetime—but end up fighting for their lives instead
 
In a stagecoach en route to San Francisco, Grace Rousselot is posing as a nun to drum up “donations” from fellow travelers. Across from her, Reuben Jones is faking blindness to prey on unsuspecting travelers. Both grifters are surprised to learn that they have competition, and even more surprised when their stagecoach is ambushed and robbed, leaving them both flat broke.
 
Not keen to discuss the robbery with the police, Reuben and Grace decide to work together to recoup some of their losses. Soon enough, what starts out as a practical partnership evolves into something more. And with the Chinese mafia hot on their heels, neither is sure just how far they can trust a man—or a woman—with a crooked heart.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Crooked hearts indeed. Both the hero and heroine of this fast-paced romp through California in the 1880s are so adept at lying and scheming that the narrative is more than half over before they--or the reader--know each other's true stories or real names. But Grace Russell and Reuben Jones are a pair of very likable rogues--good-hearted and good-humored 20-somethings whose disadvantaged pasts have virtually compelled them to resort to a succession of cons to survive life on the American frontier. When they meet on a San Francisco-bound stagecoach--she disguised as a nun soliciting money for African orphans and he posing as a wealthy blind scholar--sparks fly but are quickly dampened as each recognizes in the other a kindred spirit perpetually on the make. Nonetheless, they join forces to defraud a mysterious Chinatown crimelord, who, being neither trustworthy nor nice, makes their lives complicated, dangerous and increasingly intertwined. The ensuing story line is so convoluted that it is nearly impossible to follow, but most readers will be willing to muddle through, because the characters themselves truly are engaging and refreshingly unstereotypical. Grace is independent and sexually liberated but never brassy, while Reuben struggles valiantly to project the bravura of a Wild West hero but readily admits to a deep fear of knives and a decidedly unmacho passion for wine collecting. Their sexual encounters are sweetly erotic, and their hopes, fears and desires ring true.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“[A] fast-paced romp through California in the 1880s . . . the characters themselves truly are engaging and refreshingly unstereotypical. . . . Their sexual encounters are sweetly erotic, and their hopes, fears and desires ring true.” —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • File Size: 1201 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Romance (December 13, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0069YO2BE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,412 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild About "Crooked Hearts" April 7, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If I had to pick my favorite romance novel, this would be the one. I read this book when it was first published by the late Topaz division of Penguin, when the book had a cover that actually matched its contents. I was lucky to grab another copy before it went to a hearts and flowers format. Don't be fooled by the cover -- this is an adventure story with a dash of romance and much humor. Grace and Reuben are the most appealing of charcters -- funny, romantic, and hard-boiled all at once. The opening scene is memorable: con-woman Grace, disguised as a nun, pulls up her skirts to re-adjust the gun she has hidden under her habit. What she doesn't know is that the "blind" man seated across from her in the stagecoach is another grifter, taking in the view from behind his dark glasses. Set in California in the 1880s, this book makes you wish you had seen old San Francisco, before the earthquake. It is in the zany tradition of the cult TV program "Brisco County, Jr." with chase scenes, narrow escapes, bad guys with issues, and sex that can be both humorous and tender. If you are feeling low, this is a book to lift your spirits and tickle your funny bone at the same time.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wildly Entertaining, Excitingly Romantic! January 21, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Grace and Reuben are a couple of con artists who meet by chance while traveling (in disguise, of course: she, a nun; he, a blind spaniard.) Hilarity and hijinks ensue as a result of one's belief that the other can't see, etc. Meeting one another was an intriguing diversion, nothing more, considering the two would probably never cross paths again...that is, until their stagecoach is robbed, their "winnings" are stolen, and their false identities exposed in the process. As help is sought from the authorities after the bandits are subdued, Grace and Reuben, fearing questioning by the police, make their escape on horseback with nothing but the clothes on their back and a small, mysterious chinese figurine that seemed to be of special interst to the robbers.
Back at Reuben's San Fransiscan apartment, the two decide to partner up, just for a scam or two, until they can recoup their lost winnings. They develop a certain friendly-but-somewhat-suspicious camraderie, and, finding that they work rather well together, decide to see what they can get out of the figurine.
Grace and Reuben are wonderful characters - quite a refreshing change from the typical romance genre. Both are somewhat jaded and devious, yet the reader sees glimpses of basic goodness and kindness - even innocence - that only desperate circumstances and hard luck has served to temper in both of them.
The book drew me in immediately - action-packed from the get-go. The dialogue was quite clever, with lots of quite funny moments, as well as a couple of intricately impressive con schemes (where DOES Ms. Gaffney come up with this stuff?) Reuben and Grace are endearing, and I think any reader would soon find themself cheering for this couple.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crooked as they come...and all the better for it. January 23, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Very sad to see that this title is out of print. The he & she of this book are both con artists who constantly try to put one over on each other until they band together and in the process fall in love. This is a refreshing dialogue between two equals both of whom do not want to give up their illegal activities or their independence. And we love them for it....The repartee between the two main characters constantly sizzles and provides many laughs! Pick this one up if you can find it. Another thoughtful & sparkling romance from the always wonderful Patricia Gaffney!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Ruth
Format:Kindle Edition
Oh my sainted aunts, I loved, loved, loved this one! Loved it.

I read a ton of historical romance, and, I'll be honest, more often than not, I yearn to read about different periods in history, different types of locations and different types of characters. Regency is OK, but what's so special about it that so many books are set just in those 9 years when there are so many other interesting periods in history which almost seem to be completely ignored? Likewise, western historical romances seem all to be set in cowboy country, which is wonderful since I love a nice sexy cowboy romance as much as the next reader, but what about the seedy, nasty, opium-hazed, Chinese-influenced San Francisco at end of the 19th century, when it was a wild, barely civilized but very, very vibrant frontier? Now, there's a setting ripe for a ripping yarn! And why do the hero and/or heroine always, always have to be, well, good (or reformed)? What's wrong having a hero AND heroine who are naughty, break the law whenever possible, and without regret?

Well, I honestly had no idea that this book, provided by netgalley, after being re-released in ebook format, would actually meet some of my dearest wishes. I mean, would you just look at that cover? What does that say to you? Er, to be honest, not a lot. If I'd actually chosen this book based on the cover, well, I wouldn't have chosen it at all, and I would have missed an absolute gem!

Apart from the great setting, this book has fascinating characters (with great backstories), who are compulsive liars, don't trust anyone (not even each other AFTER they've fallen in love), and will do absolutely ANYTHING for a quick buck, and all without regret. The plot is very rich, just as compelling as the characters, and well thought through.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A real fun read. Such crooks who go straight.
Published 6 days ago by Kenneth S.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read. Am never disappointed by this author
Good read. Am never disappointed by this author. Very well structured. Am always gratified when an author can make me laugh out loud..
Published 20 days ago by Martha L. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story. Doubted I could reconcile myself to the ...
Excellent story. Doubted I could reconcile myself to the values of the hero and heroine but their back stories had me rooting for their happily ever after and what an incredible... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Caroline
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
hysterical. I loved it. I'd share it with my book club ...but.
Published 1 month ago by educated lady
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts off well . . .
This book begins with such charm and ends with such tedium, I hardly know what to say about it. I loved the idea of a Western novel – I can’t say as I had ever read one before –... Read more
Published 4 months ago by JLee
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Crafted, Fun Story
This is an incredibly well-crafted book about an unusual subject for historical romance - two con-artists who don't trust each other - but manage to fall in love. Read more
Published 4 months ago by JJares
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Would like to read more books by Patricia Gaffney
Published 4 months ago by Pam Orpwood
3.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Ending
Crooked Hearts was an entertaining book, good summer reading and a little intriguing. There were clever cons perpetrated by endearing people. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Hannah Mae
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh icky, it's a "harlequin romance" bah! humbug!
I did not realize that Ms. Gaffney wrote this kind of book. The other books I've read by her, Flight Lessons etc. have been good, women's fiction. Read more
Published 7 months ago by V.L. Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Can a pair of cheaters ever win?
Such a pair of hustlers! Great characters, so sensitively revealed. Lovely story about a pair of scammers trying to end up on the right side of the deal.
Published 8 months ago by intense shopper
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More About the Author

Patricia Gaffney began her writing career with the publication of Sweet Treason, a historical romance set in revolutionary Scotland. Eleven romance novels later, she tried something different--The Saving Graces, a story of women's friendships, that ended up spending 17 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

Circle of Three, Flight Lessons, and The Goodbye Summer followed, all bestsellers that established Gaffney as a premier mainstream fiction writer.

Her new book is Mad Dash, the story of a happy marriage in trouble. It's due out in Spring 2008.

Gaffney, who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, is currently at work on a novel about a man who changes his life when he finds out he's dying--then finds out he isn't. Working title: On Second Thought.

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