Where I got the book: bought retail at author event
And Only To Deceive was Tasha Alexander's debut novel and the introduction of Lady Emily Ashton. It's the late 1880s, and Emily has been widowed soon after her wedding. As she only married to escape her mother's incessant matchmaking, she is not mourning her husband--until she begins to learn about, and share, his interest in Greek culture and antiquities. She then falls in love with him for the first time, until she begins to discover that he may not have been the pillar of society she thought he was...
Lady Emily Ashton has since become the heroine of a series of novels, and I can't help wondering if her tendency to be attracted to every man who shows interest in her (and there are lots, because she is of course rich and beautiful) will continue. In this novel there are three distinct suitors, including her late husband, and Emily oscillates between them as their relative merits and demerits are exposed. If that was meant to be as funny as I found it, then I have to congratulate Ms Alexander on her subtlety.
Otherwise, this wasn't a subtle book. The characters are a little two-dimensional and the writing a bit loose - but hey, it's a first novel by a fairly young author, and that's what I got from the book. I also spotted a few anachronisms and Americanisms (the heroine is British) but not so many that I got annoyed; and in any case, this is a lighthearted novel to be gobbled up on the plane, boat or train, despite the detail about the Iliad and Greek antiquities (not strictly necessary in my opinion, but I suppose a widow must have some interests other than men).
And I enjoyed the read. A good one for fans of Victoriana, Greece, and writing that's heavy on dialogue and short on emotional depth. I'm hoping that Emily, who seems more passionate about her clothes than anything else, will pick up a little steam when I pick up the next book--which I'm sufficiently intrigued to do.
P.S. Can anyone else figure out why Amazon is bargain-pricing fiction like crazy? What's going to happen when readers expect a price point of $5 a book? Comments please.