Review: Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey

Title: Duels & Deception
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Teen historical romance
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Expected publication date: April 11, 2017.
Rating: ★★★★☆

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 ...

Lydia Whitfield is confident, a planner, and is certainly confident in her future plans. That is until she and her young law clerk, Robert Newton, are kidnapped by ne'er do wells for unknown purposes. What follows is a cute and funny story as the pair try to investigate whoever is behind the foul plan to ruin their good names. In Duels and Deception, the reader is thrown right into the plot, as the Regency version of a meet-cute happens within the first five pages.

This was the first book I've read by Cindy Anstey and I really enjoyed it. Particularly the dialogue. Anstey has a style of making the dialogue intrude upon the point of view narrative that makes it more "stream of thought" than I'm used to. It worked though - especially with these young characters at the centre of it. It did a great job of showing how breathless and antsy both Lydia and Robert were getting around one another as their burgeoning attraction grew.

I also loved the characterization of both the hero and the heroine. Lydia was wonderfully confident and forceful - appealing to the 21st century reader but still providing the sense of a 19th century bluestocking for the time period. Robert was equally confident, but more quietly so, and I loved how they balanced each other out in their problem solving methods.

I think the one drawback I can readily think of is that we didn't get to meet Robert's family. We're told he's the third son of an Earl, and had lots of siblings besides - but we really only see him interact with his friend Cassidy. I thought for sure there would be a scene near the end with his parents or siblings - since the happily-ever-after was all but guaranteed - but alas, none.

Cute, quirky, and certainly clean, I'd say this book is the perfect gateway into the historical romance genre for teen readers.

A copy of this title was provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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