Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey
Publication Date: April 11th, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Historical Fiction / Soft Romance
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…
Uh, I’m sorry, who gave this book the right to be so absolutely fun and adorable?!
Months after initially reading it (catching up on reviews slowly but surely) and I am still thinking about it. There was just something so pure and fun about this story; the characters, the series of events, how it all cumulated and ended… Honestly, I was so close to giving this one 5-stars.
Lydia is such a great character. She’s pragmatic but open-minded and only wants to run the family estate while marriage is simply a means to an end that she isn’t particularly opposed to. Comfort is being offered to her and, in return, she gets to keep the family home as is. That is, until Robert comes and turns everything upside down in a slow burn swoony sort of way that was * chefs kiss *.
Then we have Robert who is smart and resourceful and just a great pairing for Lydia. He wants to follow the proper protocol and respect the decisions being made but you can tell how much he wants to say something (and it’s great when he does!). I loved his background and dynamics with other characters and felt that there would definitely be something missing if not for him. Also, I’m always a sucker for good banter and this definitely had it.
The actual kidnapping referenced in the synopsis took up less page time than I felt I was lead to believe but it was certainly a catalyst for a slew of story. There were many layers to the plot and you could really tell how much fun the author had in writing it. I do love the dual POV and the story lent itself to being more well-rounded with it. There is also an adorable touch added under the chapter numbers with a one-liner explaining what to expect within the upcoming chapter which I found very unique.
“Chapter 1: In which a sensible young lady must choose between the peril of a careening carriage and mud… deep mud.”
It’s so tongue-in-cheek and was a perfect addition.
I am definitely going to have to find Anstey’s other works because if Duels & Deception is any indication, I will most certainly be on my way to finding another favourite author.