A one-night charade to save the family sugar plantation wins loyal and determined Rose Chesterfield more than she bargained for – marriage to the deliciously notorious rake, Viscount Rampton. “A love match!” proclaims London’s catch of the season who happily admits he has been hoist on his own petard. But when his new wife is implicated in the theft of several diamond necklaces he wonders if her deception goes beyond trapping him into marriage. Is she the innocent she claims, or a scheming fortune hunter with a penchant for money, mischief and men? Nominated Favourite Historical of 2011 by ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association).
Heat Level 2
Review rating 3.5 stars
REVIEW BY CAZ:
I found this to be an engrossing and enjoyable read. A Little Deception is a romantic melodrama in which the heroine is subjected to the evil machinations of no less than three different characters, and the different twists and turns of the plot, in the second half especially, kept me anxiously turning the pages, desperate to find out how all the strands would eventually be unravelled.
The story starts with Rose Chesterfield insisting on accompanying her brother Charles to a dinner party in the place of his spoilt, selfish wife, Helena, who is, not to put too fine a point on it, too stoned to attend herself. Helena is in debt to the host, Lord Rampton, and Rose wants see if she can somehow get Rampton to give them a little longer to pay it off.
This “little deception” sets in train a series of events which involve Rose in an ever deepening mire of distrust and unwitting duplicity which could cost her not only her reputation and place in society, but her chance at happiness with the only man she has ever loved.
While it’s fair to say that the existence of a Big Misunderstanding between the hero and heroine in the romance genre is far from original, the author managed to retain my interest by the sheer audacity of some of the deceptions practiced upon Rose and Rampton, and by her abiity to keep piling on the angst until it seemed as though there was no way forward for Rose and that she really did stand to lose everything she held dear.
Eikli takes her time in setting the scene and familiarizing us with her characters at the outset. The attraction between Rose and Rampton is palpable and the atmosphere crackles with sexual tension whenever they are together. Rose has always played second-fiddle to Helena and has never thought of herself as attractive; she has almost always subjugated her own wishes in order to do what she thinks is best for her family.
Helena is probably the most well-drawn character in the book. She is selfish, ruthless and utterly vicious; single-mindedly, she works towards to bring about Rose’s ruin and without compunction, draws others into her scheme to destroy Rose. So great is her cunning that the men she ensnares do not even realise the depth of her desire for revenge. I will admit that there were times in the story when I wanted to slap some sense into Rose as she fell for yet another of Helena’s lies, but conversely, Helena was so convincing in the way she played to Rose’s genuine desire to help her for Charles’ sake that it was easy to understand why Rose acted as she did.
Rampton is probably more of a conventional hero in that he is handsome, rich and somewhat autocratic. He is powerfully drawn to Rose, and believing her to be a married woman, intends to make her his mistress. But along the way, he begins to realize that while he lusts after her body, he is intrigued by her spirit and by the time her deception is exposed, he is well on the way to being in love, an emotion he had never expected to feel for the woman he would eventually marry.
For a time, the pair are happy, but it is not long before Helena’s jealousy begins to erode their happiness and confidence in each other. I will admit that I did get a little frustrated at times by the fact that Rose and Rampton did not directly address some of their difficulties early on – preferring instead to reaffirm their sexual desire for each other in bed. And of course, even though both of them admit to knowing that the other could not possibly be capable of X or Y, things quickly escalate to a point where their lack of communication, aided and abetted by Helena’s machinations mean that their relationship has almost broken down completely.
Of course, all is discovered in the nick of time and things end happily – but I did take a kind of perverse enjoyment in the way my stomach was twisted into knots at each further deception.
I feel I can’t complete this review without commenting on the fact that there are a number of mistakes and typos in the copy of the book I received for review. Had there been just one or two, I would have let it go, but there were more than that, in addition to instances of the wrong name or word being used. On a purely personal level, this is something that irritates me because it takes me out of the story while my brain makes the required corrections. I know it’s not a deal-breaker for some, but I feel that if someone is paying good money for a product, they should be able to expect it to be as good as the producer can make it. Hence, I felt I had to knock off a half star from the four I was going to award originally.