DUELS & DECEPTION by Cindy Anstey, Feiwel and Friends (Swoon Reads), April 11, 2017, Softcover, $10.99 (young adult)
Swoon Reads, which publishes under the Feiwel and Friends arm of Macmillan, is an interesting business model. Writers submit manuscripts and online readers help push worthwhile manuscripts to the top of the pile. It’s a smart idea, and if Cindy Anstey’s Duels & Deception is and indication, it’s working.
At the center of Duels & Deception is Miss Lydia Whitfield, an intelligent young woman who will one day inherit her family’s fortune. But because Lydia is a woman living in the Regency period, she’s not expected to make any decisions about her estate or fortune. In fact, the men managing her affairs would rather she just sit back and prepare for her future as a wife.
Before he passed away, Lydia’s father planned for everything, including the man she would marry when of age. Up until lately, Lydia has had no reason to question her father’s wishes. She’s so confident in his plans, that she’s ready to begin drawing up her marriage contract.
Lydia is forced to rethink things, though, after she and Mr. Robert Newton, a young law clerk, are kidnapped. Someone wants Lydia’s fortune, and they don’t care if they destroy her reputation getting it. Luckily for Lydia, Robert is as quick thinking as she is. With his help, Lydia is able to keep her family’s name out of the rumor mills. But after all that effort, Lydia is left wondering if perhaps the future her father planned for her isn’t in her best interests after all.
Duels & Deception fits nicely into the modern Regency genre. It holds itself well next to the Proper Romance series from Shadow Mountain, though stands on its own merits as well. Author Cindy Anstey’s writing is clear and easily accessible. You immediately feel at home in the world she’s created in part because of her prose and in part because of her characters.
Lydia is immediately likable, pushing the “acceptable” boundaries for women in a time when reputation meant everything. Her wit and charm are equally matched in Robert. Robert wants to be good and proper, but he’s also practical with a good eye for the truth.
Duels & Deception is a fast-paced read that holds your attention. I read it in one sitting, and I expect to read it again in the near future.
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