Title: Duels & Deception
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Length: 368 pages
Source: Gifted to me by the lovely Jess at Gone with the Words
Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.
Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants
This is a cute tale of ‘proper romance’ set during the early 1800s (think Jane Austen period). Anstey is not the wordsmith Austen was, and the focus is almost entirely on the romance (despite some elements of danger and adventure, like the nominal duels), but the characters are charming. Don’t expect too much in the way of character development or realism, and you’ll enjoy this fluffy-sweet romance. Luckily, I was in the mood for something light-hearted, so I was amused by the story.
The protagonist, Lydia, is admirable in trying to secure the success of her estate and family, and entertaining in her intelligence and stubbornness. The love interest is equally admirable in his sense of pride, honor, and ethics, and his dedication to Lydia. It’s a slow burn romance of the restrained type, with somewhat humorous side characters/caricatures, an easy and quick read.
I’m a coffee-fueled, hobby-addicted bibliophage who makes cruelty-free mineral eye shadows (inspired by novels). I’m usually in front of a screen (writing, reading, or gaming), but I’ve been known to emerge for geekery, good food, and dark chocolate.