Goodreads: Duels and Deception
Published: April 11, 2017
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…
Like Anstey’s first novel, Love, Lies and Spies, Duels and Deception is a light-hearted Regency romance that will keep you vastly amused if you like spirited girls and swoon-worthy guys in historical fiction. The novel is, in some senses, ridiculous. The dialogue seems a bit overdone with the author’s attempts to make it period, and the action is certainly on the absurd end (kidnappings and conspiracies and scandals, oh my!). To top it off, the whole plot is incredibly predictable. And yet…it’s just so.much.fun.
Anstey, I have to admit, is just good at what she does. I don’t normally read books I would call “fluffy,” yet that’s exactly what Anstey’s fiction is, and I love it. You can tell she had such a good time writing it that you can’t help but have a good time reading it. Part of me can’t even say that this novel and her first are distinctly different (they are but they aren’t), but I don’t care. I was entertained, and I kept turning the pages.
The highlight is really the plot, but the characters help make the book, as well. Anstey write heroines that don’t quite conform to the expected gender roles of their time, but they pay just enough deference to propriety that they don’t seem unrealistic. And she is fabulous at writing romantic love interests who are thoughtful, intelligent, and brave. Secondary characters ranging from good friends to absurd family members to nasty villains round out the cast.
I have no idea if Anstey plans to continue churning out Regency novels in this vein, but I’ll keep reading them if she does.