And Only To Deceive


Tasha Alexander


Mystery / Thriller


Date Reviewed:

January 29, 2012

saw this book at a booksale for 50 cents. The back cover says: "Fans of Anne Perry and Elizabeth Peters will welcome this debut novel" - the Denver Post. Those two writers are my sister's favorite authors. Plus, Tasha Alexander graduated from Notre Dame. So I figured fifty cents was not too much for a book that "walks the fine line between history and mystery, throwing her protagonist into a cauldron of intrigue, scandal and danger" - Baltimore Sun

The heroine is named Emily. She is a young, beautiful, intelligent, wealthy young widow living in Victorian England. My first problem with this story is the unbelievable story of Emily's marriage to the Viscount Philip, who has already perished when the novel opens. Apparently, by ignoring the dashing, eligible Philip completely, Emily had made herself irresistable to Philip. Emily could care less for Philip, but her mother had been constantly badgering her to marry a wealthy man with a title, so when Philip makes a surprise marriage proposal, Emily accepts just to escape her mother, despite the fact that they barely know each other. But Philip dies suddenly on a trip to Africa a few months after their marriage, so they are destined to never know each other. This all seemed a bit too contrived to me. Also, I found the constant gossip/prattling of Emily's mother to be wearisome - yes, I understand that Emily's mother was supposed to be tiresome, but I did not enjoy her time upon the stage.

Nor did I like all the talk about dresses. Rather than a cauldron of intrigue and danger, I found the book to be more about outfits and social calls. The main plot line behind the story is art forgeries. Is someone replacing genuine artifacts on display at the British Museum with clever forgeries? Is it possible that dearly departed Philip might have been part of the forgery ring? Alas, we spend far to little time exploring the world of art forgery. The master artist seems like an intriguing character, but Emily only meets him once and he disappears again.

Another plot line that I disliked was Emily discovering that Philip really did love her, even though she only married him to escape her nagging mother. Suddenly, love for Philip posthumously blossoms in Emily, and the reader wades through chapters where Emily learns more about her wonderful but dead husband, and her loves grows even more! Yawn.

I realize that because of her station and the strictures of society that Emily isn't supposed to be involved in any real derring-do. But the result is a tepid novel, devoid of suspense - the plot of the bad guy is feeble and obvious, Emily is never put in harms way - and all is wrapped up nicely. I was hoping that she would indeed take the dangerous journey to Africa, but that fails to materialize. I see that this is the first novel in a projected series, but this is the last one that I shall read.