A Heart Worth Stealing (Proper Romance Regency), by Joanna Barker — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

A determined heiress hires a charming thief-taker to aid in her search for her beloved late father’s watch, only to become embroiled in an increasingly dangerous mystery in A Heart Worth Stealing, the latest Proper Romance® from Shadow Mountain Publishing.


Little Sowerby, England, 1802

Miss Genevieve Wilde―a magistrate’s daughter and independent heiress―is determined to meet life’s challenges all on her own, just as her late father had taught her. So when her father’s pocket watch is stolen, she will do anything to get it back, especially when the local authorities prove incompetent.

Upon reading an advertisement in the paper, she takes a chance and contacts a thief-taker to find the watch. It’s a choice Ginny regrets when former Bow Street officer Jack Travers arrives on her doorstep. He is frustratingly flirtatious, irritatingly handsome, and entirely unpredictable, and Ginny wonders if she’ll be able to resist such a man.

But after Ginny discovers that the missing watch is just a small part of a larger, more frightening plot against her, she needs Jack’s help more than ever. To protect her home and her reputation, the two enter into a risky charade―pretending Jack is her cousin so he can begin his investigation, starting with the household staff. As they work together to unravel the mystery, Ginny finds herself falling fast for her charismatic thief-taker, leaving her heart in just as much danger as her life.


I was hooked from the very first, clever line:

 “My study had been overrun by men.” (Loc 44)

Why was the missing watch so important?

“Father rarely did anything without consulting his watch. It was a part of him. If ever a soul could be seen in an object, that watch was Father. Steady, sturdy, practical. Loved.” (Loc 112)

I could go on and on about the heartwarming prose in this story. I have enjoyed everything I’ve ever read by Joanna Barker, yet, remarkably, each book is even better than the last. She is on my list of favorite historical romance authors for so many reasons, but especially for the emotional depth she gives her characters.

Authentic Characters

Ginny and Jack are simply delightful. Relatable. Realistic. They are humanity brought to life on paper, with all their imperfections. Calling their sparkling dialogue “witty banter” seems almost like a tired compliment compared to how enjoyable it is to read. Their supporting cast is wonderful as well.

Oh, the Emotions!

Evoking a variety of emotions is the pinnacle of a five-star read for me, and Joanna Barker is a superstar at this masterful skill. A Heart Worth Stealing made me laugh, cry, and swoon from all of the beautifully wrought emotions spilling forth from the genuine characters and significant situations.

Action-packed Suspense

Secrets are revealed, unexpected plot twists and villains made me gasp aloud, and some heart-thumping action kept me riveted. It was a fantastic surprise to discover a gripping mystery in the midst of a lovely romance.

Proper Romance

Lovers of authentic historical romance will adore the sweetly sincere love story in A Heart Worth Stealing.

5 out of 5 Stars


  • A Heart Worth Stealing (Proper Romance Regency), by Joanna Barker
  • Shadow Mountain Publishing (May 2, 2023)
  • Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (288) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1639931040
  • Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction


We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Cover image courtesy of Shadow Mountain Publishing © 2023; text Katie Jackson © 2023, austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate.

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