And Only to Deceive is the first Lady Emily Ashton novel; there are three out right now and a fourth, I believe, coming out in the fall. Emily, also known as “Kallista,” has been widowed for over a year, when she decides to study what her late husband was passionate about: Greek antiquities. She inadvertently stumbles into an investigation into what may have been murder.
I admit I’ve been spoiled by Deanna Raybourn’s novels. Raybourn really knows how to create a great historical setting, intriguing characters, and a believable mystery. And Only to Deceive, I think, is a lighter version of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries. I noticed, though, that in several places, especially the proposal scenes, the author lifts lines directly from Jane Austen! I enjoyed the story—it’s fast-paced and fun—but I think the author sometimes sacrificed historical accuracy for the mystery. Would a single woman, even a widow, have addressed a member of the opposite by his first name (even if he really was courting her)? Would a woman, even one as forward-thinking as Emily, have walked around at night, in public, in her nightgown? And that leads me to another point—Emily’s sensibilities were a little too modern at times.
But as I said, the story moves at a brisk pace, and the mystery is an interesting one. A bit predictable, at the end, but good nonetheless. This is a good novel if you’re in the mood for something not too brain-taxing. Still, I’d recommend Deanna Raybourn’s books over this one.
Also reviewed by: Medieval Bookworm, The Bluestocking Society