An Heiress’s Guide to Deception and Desire

Written by Manda Collins
Review by Ray Thompson

England, 1867. After her breakup with Lord Valentine Thorn, Caroline Hardcastle has thrown herself into her literary activities, which include co-writing a column about the dangers facing women in Victorian society. But when a good friend goes missing, she is drawn into a reluctant partnership with her former fiancé, whose cousin was attacked while trying to defend the abducted actress, then he himself later goes missing. With the help of their friends, they find not only the missing pair, but resurgent love and, after some misunderstandings have been resolved, a happy marriage.

The mystery and love plots are linked by the motif of aristocratic arrogance, particularly in the attitude towards women. The villains believe their social standing entitles them to abuse with impunity those they deem socially inferior. By contrast, Val learns that he must not only treat Caro with respect himself, but speak out against those who sneer at her because she is from the middle class and engages in what they consider unladylike activities. That these activities comprise taking the initiative themselves rather than waiting for men to do so, do, however, endear Caro and her friends to readers as well as their husbands.  Recommended.