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Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey
Pub. Date: April 11, 2017
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Swoon Reads!)
Summary: 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…
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, Romance, Humor

Miss Lydia Whitfield is at her wits’ end. Though her father’s passing made her the rightful heiress to his vast estate (and fortune), she’s unable to fully take charge and run the place as she sees fit due to her age. Her uncle has stepped in (though he’s more often than not nursing a drink – or a hangover) and has some…rather illogical ideas, schemes really, that he’s convinced will net him his very own fortune.

Lydia only has to wait until her intended proposes, then she’ll be entirely content to run the house (and, hopefully, family). Prior to her father’s death, he had chosen Lord Aldershot as her future husband and the pair get along well enough. It’s certainly no love match, but so few marriages are and Lydia’s not the romantic sort anyway. That is, until she decides to move forward with the marriage contract and calls on a young law clerk, Robert Newton. Her carefully laid plans go even further south when she and Robert are suddenly kidnapped.

I want to get this out of the way first and foremost: the kidnapping that seems to be the main focus of the novel? It’s actually a small, very small part and the pair quickly escape. It merely serves as a way to bring Lydia and Robert together and, while I was okay with this, I was a little surprised to see the scene come and go so quickly when the summary made it seem like a huge plot.

I’m a sucker for a pretty cover and Duels and Deception has a great one. Even better is what’s inside! The story sounded cute and fun and I’m thrilled to say it surpassed every single expectation I had. Lydia is strong-willed and ambitious, not afraid to offer up her own opinion at a time when it was unacceptable for women to do so. She’s witty and clever, but also cares deeply for her loved ones – society won’t care a bit that Lydia was kidnapped, they’ll only latch onto the fact that she was out. In the middle of the night. With a boy. Unchaperoned. It won’t just be her reputation that will be ruined, her entire family will have to bear the brunt of it, any marriage prospects for her young cousins will virtually vanish. Because of this, once the kidnapper(s) start making demands, she’s willing to comply.

Robert, on the other hand, is not nearly as rash or impulsive. He’s quiet and studious, happily tackling his work while his older brother lives a life of leisure as their father’s heir. He’s quick to catch on to the fact that Lydia and Lord Aldershot have absolutely zero chemistry, but he knows it’s not his place to say anything (and given his status as the third son, he knows any feelings he has for Miss Whitfield must be suppressed).

Duels and Deception features alternating chapters and I loved – loved – getting the look into both Lydia’s and Robert’s minds. For Robert, meeting Lydia was practically insta-love (and I was SO onboard with that!) while Lydia is extremely slow to realize why she looks for excuses to call on Robert. Seriously, this back and forth was so ridiculously cute and I adored every second.

Although Duels and Deceptions doesn’t feature any surprises or plot twists that caught me off-guard, I was more than okay with that. Going in, you know what’s going to happen, how the ending will play out, and I was delighted to go along for the ride. The villains get their comeuppance, the romance is insanely adorable, and the writing was incredibly easy-breezy. Duels and Deceptions is a perfect summer read and I’m thrilled to have gotten my hands on a copy! I’m even more excited that Anstey has other books – I need more of her writing in my life (though I would looove to see more of Lydia and Robert someday)!

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