Duels and Deception Review: Pistols At Dawn! Or What About A Duel of Wit?

March 27, 2017 by Aila J. | 4 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

Duels and Deception Review: Pistols At Dawn! Or What About A Duel of Wit?Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey
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!


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Aila is a young adult reader who loves to transport herself to new dimensions through reading. She's currently an undergraduate student at university in the US. Let's talk about our obsessions on Twitter @aila_1woaa!

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24 responses to “Duels and Deception Review: Pistols At Dawn! Or What About A Duel of Wit?

  1. Bec

    Literally all I needed to read was that first sentence! It sounds like it's full of all the fun things I love to see in my historical romance novels. So glad to hear you enjoyed it so much 😀

  2. Rissi

    This one SOUNDS SO cute. I've not read anything by this author, but I love the idea of her books, and do own 'Lies and Spies' so adding this one to my shelf will likely happen. Soonish. 😉 Thanks for reviewing, Aila!

  3. Olivia-Savannah

    Lydia sounds like a straight forward girl who just goes out and lives life, and doesn't want to be repressed by it at all. I really love it when romances are slow burn and balanced, and this book sounds like just the read for that. I haven't read a regency novel in a while either, so maybe this is one for my near future.

    • Yay Olivia, I hope you ended up picking this one up or are planning to! It definitely is a great escapist historical fiction read. 😀

  4. This sounds absolutely gorgeous Aila, although I couldn't really get into her first book I love the sound of this one. I'm always a fan of strong willed female characters who break the mold in historical fiction and Lydia sounds fabulous! It sounds like a beautiful slow burning romance and absolutely love the cover! Brilliant review Aila, looking forward to grabbing a copy <3

  5. I have this book for review for a tour and I'm really excited to get into it. So excited to jump into this! I've never really read any light historical but this definitely sounds good. It's assuring to know you enjoyed this, Aila! Great review!

  6. lydiaisawriter

    This sounds AMAZING. I could really use a fun read right now. Especially a fun regency read with a main character who has the same name as me 🙂

  7. Sarah

    This sounds super cute – I love charming reads like this, even if the mystery side is a little predictable. Can't wait to read this one 🙂 Thanks for sharing

    Sarah@ whispering words

  8. Kelly

    This sounds like such a great read! I haven't read Cindy's previous book, but am really looking forward to this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • Thanks so much Kelly! I would recommend Duels And Deception over Love, Lies, And Spies, but both were really fun and exciting!

  9. brittanysbookrambles

    This sounds absolutely adorable! I've been in the mood for more historical books lately, so I'll definitely be checking this one out 😀 I'm so glad you loved it! Fantastic review, Aila 🙂 Also, the cover is sooo lovely.

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

  10. FlickeringLights

    This book sounds so good, definitely adding this one to my Goodreads TBR! I've recently felt like reading some historical fiction lately, so this one sounds right up my alley! Lovely review Aila! 🙂

  11. sharandshanti

    This sounds really cool! I like 19th century stories; one of my favourite ones is Sorcery and Cecelia, but I was also recently reading Mad Miss Mimic which was pretty awesome too. I love historical fiction that is more light hearted, so this sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the review!

  12. theliteraryhuntress

    This one sounds fun! I've been in a mood for historical fiction, so this one should be perfect for me 😀 I always thought this book is a MG, maybe because of the cover? But turns out it seems like it's a YA book 🙂 Adding this to my tbr, thanks for sharing Aila!

    • Yeah, I always thought her stories were MG until I picked them up! It's definitely YA haha, as the characters are in their later teens. I'm so glad you added this to your TBR!

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