Published by Swoon Reads on April 11th 2017
Source: Author Review Copy
Genres: Historical, Young Adult, Mystery, Romance
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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…
If you’re looking for an adorable book with quirky and lovable characters, a fun mystery, a sweet and slow-burning romance, and witty dialogue that is guaranteed to make you crack up in laughter, look no further. Anstey’s YA regency provides all of that and more, delighting this reader from the first page to last. Although I really liked Love, Lives and Spies by this same author, I fell in love with this story and characters. I definitely recommend this for readers that are looking for a light and fun read that will leave them laughing out loud!
In the book, Miss Lydia Whitfield finds herself in some complications. First, her greedy and often drunk uncle isn’t having any of her bossy attitude. Then, her will-be-fiance is trying to make her wait for them to solidify their engagement, even though it’s been planned since she was young by her late father. To top off her day, she and her law clerk have been kidnapped by people – leaving her unchaperoned for the night and vulnerable to extreme scandal. It doesn’t help that she feels all tingly and excited when she sees the law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton either. Fortunately for us, this heroine knows what she’s up to.
This time when Robert offered the standard ‘of course,’ Miss Whitfield hesitated and tossed him a thoughtful look. He should have hidden his amusement a little better. He had noticed her wish to regulate everything – and everyone – around her, and while he found it both unusual and impressive, it was an opinion best kept to himself.
Lydia is the kind of girl who knows what she wants, and will do anything to get to her goal. She is the one drawing up the arrangements for her marriage contract, sets up exact dates and times to meet people, and doesn’t need advice – her own mother was extremely happy to be helping Lydia when she asked for it. She’s independent, willful, and proud to be like that. At the same time, she kind of needs to be, with people trying to take advantage of the family fortune that her late father left to her. It’s okay though – she has a plan to get married to the baron and continue on managing their finances. One problem? She’s finding that she might want more than a marriage of convenience, as she spends more and more time with Robert.
‘My days are anything but routine… But then, I would be bored if every day was like the last.’
‘There is security in routine – calm, peace.’
‘But no adventure, no surprises.’
‘Surprises can be overrated.’
‘Or they can be fun. That’s part of the adventure.’
Robert is the third son of an earl, aspiring solicitor, and helps Lydia out as her law clerk. Lucky for him, he also gets kidnapped along with her on a fateful night. Lucky for both of them, they manage to escape and get back with everyone not knowing too much about their disappearance, reducing the risk of scandal. But still, something’s fishy about the whole situation… Robert’s such a great guy and appreciates Lydia, quirks and all. He’s the problem-solver in the story, as readers can well see when he smooths out the problems of several side characters. Robert is efficient, compassionate, and – best of all – shows up to meetings at exactly the precise time. What’s not to love about him?
She was not a romantic type; she was the responsible, do-the-right-thing-for-the-estate type. Barley had been her father’s choice, and Papa had been a man of great knowledge and understanding. Hard at times, yes. But for a purpose. The purpose of securing Roseberry Hall a worthy lineage – a noble lineage.
There is still the matter of the kidnapper, though, who is planning to blackmail Lydia for her money or else the truth of what happened that night will leak out. As Robert and Lydia join forces to get to the bottom of things, they also start a slow-burning romance that is as sweet as it is adorable. I find the title so apt, as there are duels, yes – with the addition of a fantastic duel of words that was super creative – and there are deceptions – the good ones that are done to help a loved one, and the bad ones done for one’s own avarice. I found that this book had a lot more going on to it than Love, Lies and Spies which made it a bit less predictable (although I did have the kidnapper figured out pretty soon into the story) and much more fun.
Duels and Deceptions stays true to its title. The predictable yet nonetheless fun mystery slowly unfurled itself as Robert and Lydia got more closer to each other. Lydia’s straightforward and directing attitude, combined with Robert’s problem-solving skills and efficient manner made them a great couple that balanced each other out. There were lots of things going on with the other characters as well, which made it easier to become engrossed in the story. Overall amusing and light, this historical YA book is certain to keep readers smiling throughout it all!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you Macmillan for the review copy!