I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Duels & Deception is a YA novel written by Cindy Anstey. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her first book- Love, Lies and Spies– so I was looking forward to returning to the Regency era and reading this book.
Miss Lydia Whitfield is an heiress. She does not harbor very many romantic sentiments, and plans to marry the baron whose estate borders her own. This is far from a love match, but aligning her fortune with his ancient name seems to be the best possible outcome.
So when Lydia’s solicitor sends his clerk to Roseberry, she does not notice a handsome young man- she sees an opportunity to draw up a marriage contract and solidify her future. It does not matter that her intended balks and begins dragging his feet about actually becoming her intended; this is the way things are supposed to be.
But then Lydia- and Robert!- are kidnapped. Who would do such a dastardly thing to such a nice young lady? And then of course, there are the titular duels- those come into play as well. It appears that Lydia and Robert have two mysteries on their hands!
Duels & Deception is an absolute delight. I certainly did not guess the “mystery” portion, and found myself somewhat surprised by the “big reveal”. Overall, despite the serious threats to Lydia’s reputation by villainous kidnappers, this is a very light book and there is a great deal of comic relief. It’s clear that Lydia and Robert care for each other, but they spend much of the book ignoring their feelings for the sake of propriety.
I would absolutely recommend Duels & Deception. This is categorized as a YA book, but I think it will appeal to fans of Regency books. Historical romance novels are known for their steamy scenes, and concerned readers should know that Lydia and Robert maintain a sense of propriety throughout the book and that nothing untoward happens. Anstey is a talented writer with a gift for wordplay and characterization. All characters- both the major players and the more minor roles- bring something to the narrative, and it is such fun to see the interactions unfold. I am already eagerly waiting for Anstey’s next book!