The only reason why Emily accepted the proposal of Viscount Ashton was to escape the clutches of her overbearing mother, so when he died on safari after only six months of marriage, she felt very little grief. But during her two-year period of mourning, Emily has discovered that Philip was a very different man from the one she thought she had married.
In her desire to learn more about her husband, she finds herself in the British Museum, and it's there that she uncovers a dangerous secret about stolen artifacts. It's not long before Emily finds herself trying to juggle the attentions of two suitors while trying to solve a crime that might have caused her husband's death.
I've known about Tasha Alexander's mysteries for quite some time now, and I finally made the time to read the first one in her Lady Emily series. It added a great deal of poignancy to the story to have Emily slowly fall in love with her husband after his death, but what I enjoyed even more was how Emily fought for what was best for her despite the machinations of her mother and of Victorian society. Emily was not the first wealthy woman to realize that-- in that day and age-- it's often better to be a widow than a wife.
The mystery about stolen artifacts was an interesting one even though I did find the villain easy to identify. (But then, I've had more experience in deduction than young Lady Emily.) All in all, And Only to Deceive reminded me of the books of romantic suspense I read when I was in my teens-- books written by authors like Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Dorothy Eden. However, even though this book is well-written and has an admirable main character, the story as a whole lacked any spark that would induce me to continue reading. Since the series now contains ten books, it's obvious that there are many readers who've had a much more positive reaction. Ah well. It happens sometimes!
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
Harper © 2006
Paperback, 321 pages
Historical Mystery, #1 Lady Emily mystery
Source: Paperback Swap