2014 · 4 stars · historical fiction · mystery · ya

Dangerous Deceptions by Sarah Zettel

Dangerous Deceptions (Palace of Spies #2) by Sarah Zettel
Pub. Date: November 4, 2014
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, HMH Books for Young Readers!!)
Summary: As a lady in waiting in King George’s London court, Peggy has survived a forced betrothal, royal scandals, and an attempt or two on her life. And now she has a new problem: her horrible fiancé has returned to claim her! To save her neck, or at least her hand in marriage, Peggy joins forces with her cousin Olivia and her sweetheart, Matthew. But if she doesn’t play her cards right, her career as courtier and spy might come to an end at the bottom of the river Thames.
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Recommended for: Fans of historicals looking for a break from the Regency- and Victorian-era novels

THIS IS A REVIEW FOR THE SECOND IN A SERIES – THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS!

In Palace of Spies, we were introduced to Margaret Fitzoy – Peggy, thank you. Begrudgingly raised by an uncle who cares not one bit for her, Peggy is surprised when she receives a marriage proposal instead of her beloved, highborn cousin Olivia. A rather disastrous first encounter leaves Peggy wanting nothing but a way out of the arrangement and she readily accepts a position at court posing as another girl. Court life doesn’t turn out to be as glamorous as she thought however, and soon she’s thrown into a world of murder, spies, and secrets.

Picking up right where Palace of Spies left off, Dangerous Deceptions hits the ground running. Now that her true identity has been revealed, Peggy’s dealing with the repercussions while trying to start a relationship with Matthew, end her betrothal to Sebastian, and find out if her father is really still alive. When Sebastian appears at court and starts to become overly friendly with Sophie Howe, another lady in waiting and an equally vile person, Peggy realizes she must act – and quickly.

As Peggy finds herself deeper into the depths of the Jacobites’ inner circle, she uncovers some pretty major family secrets involving not only her parents (court spies themselves) but also her Uncle Pierpont and she learns the real meaning behind her betrothal.

The year-long wait between these books is a killer, but the moment I began reading I had no trouble jumping back into the story. All of my favorite characters have returned (including a very pregnant royal pup!) and I got to meet some new faces, both good and bad. I will say that I was a bit frustrated that the majority of the reveals were discovered by little more than a stroke of good luck on Peggy’s part.

Again, just as in Palace of Spies, there are some very mature – and even triggering – themes. Dangerous Deceptions expands upon those themes and once more I’m a little surprised by the targeted audience. On HMH’s website, Dangerous Deceptions is listed as 7th grade/12-years-old and up. Sexual assault and multiple f-bombs (no matter how cleverly disguised) abound in this novel and it’s Sebastian’s attempted rape that provides the entire basis for Peggy’s repulsion and desire to find a way out of the marriage. While things with Matthew have yet to go beyond a few kisses, their relationship is definitely becoming more serious and while I’m sure there are some 12-year-olds who are mature enough to understand, I’m not convinced that this series should be targeted to such young readers.

While the young demographic has me raising my eyebrows once again, I still thoroughly enjoyed Dangerous Deceptions. It doesn’t leave the reader hanging from the events that happened in Palace of Spies (though it’s entirely possible the year-long wait in between these novels will do that on its own!) and Peggy’s uncovering answers for her questions. This series provides a refreshing change from my usual 1800s-era Historical Fiction and I’m loving the closer look at the Jacobites! Although I’d be hesitant to recommend this series to a younger reader, older teens and adults are sure to be pleased!

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