I actually finished this yesterday and since then have read nearly the entire series, haha. I forgot just how addictive this series could be, and I'm already fighting the temptation to start the last (until next week) entry in the series. I absolutely adore this series. Last year, I did an entire reread of the series and purchased digital copies because I love it so much. Normally, having just finished a reread, I wouldn't have done a second one this year except Suzanne Enoch is releasing a brand new novel, Barefoot in the Dark, after over a decade. Sooo excited!
I don't read a ton of contemporary novels, and I read even fewer series with the same couple featured over and over again -- I think, other than this series, my only other series like this is the J.D. Robb In Death series. It's hard to see the same couple again and again, particularly since the romance genre is supposed to have a HEA.
Rick Addison and Samantha Jellicoe have a unique meet-cute in this first book when she saves Rick's life during a botched robbery of his Palm Beach estate--she's actually trying to steal from him at the same time but she's not responsible for the explosion or the dead guard. They team up to find out who's behind it and trying to kill them both.
The plot is really good even if it gets a bit dodgy from time to time. I only get tripped up on some of the finer points after maybe my seventh reread so that's probably me being an anal-compulsive moron, haha. The characters and romance are really great. Both of these characters are used to being in command and not answering to anyone else so they really have to find ways to compromise--particularly since Sam lives on the wrong side of the law and Rick has to try and figure out just how much of that he's willing to deal with.
The HEA is a good stopping point. We get enough resolution fit the definition, but there are so many issues still to be mined between these characters that conflict still remains. The romance can occasionally feel driven by lust--and it definitely begins that way, but there are points where there is genuine connection between them and it's fun to watch them try and one up each other throughout the book.
The supporting cast is great, particularly Rick's lawyer, Tom, and Homicide detective, Frank, who will both come back in later books. I particularly adore Stoney, Sam's fence and only real personal connection. I was excited to see all of them come back.
One of my favorite things about Sam and Rick (that continues to be a conflict between them as they go forward) is that they're both forced to compromise how they would normally handle a situation and work together--even to trust one another. Trust doesn't come easily to them since she's a thief whose entire survival depends on really only trusting herself, and Rick got out of a marriage in which he'd found his wife in bed with someone he'd thought was his friend.
We get into it way more in later books, but from the start, Rick realizes he can't deal with Sam the way he's dealt with other women. She isn't going to stay in a box where he puts her and if he wants to keep her in his life, he needs to make some changes.
It's not super evident in this book the way it is in the rest, but there's a moment at the end of the story where Rick and Sam have realized that the cops are still looking at her, she's ready to bolt. They then go to the police station and get Harold Meridien's name from Dante, and Rick immediately sees red. He's ready to do what he would have done only weeks earlier -- get on a plane for Stuttgart and get his answers. Sam's situation hasn't changed, and she doesn't tell him not to go. She just reminds him of her situation. Rick can't ignore, can't leave her behind. Has to stop and think about her.
I also like that when Sam does give up a life of thievery, it's not solely because Rick wants her, too. She's already been thinking that she was living on borrowed time and not as active as she'd once been. Sam's struggle with staying on the right side of the law continues for the rest of the series, but she makes the choice for her and that's important to me. She does make it partially for Rick, but there's no way getting around the idea that she can't be a cat burglar and stay with Rick. It's not feasible. She wants to stay with Ric, ergo, she has to leave her life of crime behind. He never has to tell her -- Sam makes this decision on her own.