Thursday, September 5, 2019

And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily, #1) by Tasha Alexander

Emily hastily agrees to marry London's most eligible bachelor in a desperate attempt to get out from underneath her overbearing mother. Before she even has a chance to get to know her groom, he dies on a hunting expedition. Feeling guilty at her lack of grief (she barely knew the man), she begins to discover him through his journal, stories from his friends and family, and by learning more about his interests and hobbies, like art and antiquity. In the process, the young widow begins to discover herself too, and eventually, uncovers her late husband's potential involvement in a crime. Who was he really? And which of his friends can she trust?

Coincidentally, this bore some resemblance to "Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey #1)" by Deanna Raybourn - a young and headstrong widow in Victorian times discovers some threatening notes in her late husband's books and papers and realizes he wasn't the man she thought he was. Since I read them almost back to back, I can't help but compare them. Alexander's novel is certainly slower paced and earns the tagline of "a novel of suspense" but I found it a touch more realistic. Emily doesn't go pursuing an investigation, teaming up with a P.I., and barreling headlong into dangerous situations like Julia did, in fact she largely ignores the clues that drop in her lap until she can't deny them any longer. While amateur sleuthing novels are fun, they can come across as somewhat fabricated sometimes and this one didn't feel that way.

Although slow paced, I really enjoyed watching Emily discover herself through her discovery of her late husband. With a few amusing stumbles and a touch of pretension, Emily evolved from a naive blank slate to a fully formed independent woman - and, oh yeah, uncovered and righted a crime too.

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