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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 July 2016
Sometimes, a book just doesn't work for me no matter how much I want to enjoy it. And Only to Deceive have everything that I should like, interesting characters, a mystery and a tragic love story. However, somewhere along the way the story just lost my interest and unfortunately I never found it as interesting as it was, in the beginning, to read.

So, what went wrong? Why did this book not appeal to me? I think the biggest problem for me was that the plot, Emily's hunt for the truth about Philips involvement in the forgery of art, or rather the whole forgery plot was so simple to figure out that it took away the enjoyment to read the book. Since this book is bit old now and several new books have been published was it easy to cross one person of the list as suspects and that made the list of people that could be involved pretty small. And, a book that started off interesting just lost its spark along the way.

I did find Emily's newfound love for Philip tragic and sweet, but alas even that went a bit boring after a while. She discovered new things about him and she realized that the man she married was a different man than she had imagined and suddenly she fell in love with him. With the problem that he is dead. Like the forgery part that also lost its spark after a while.

However, I do want to continue with the series. I did like Emily enough to want to read more about her. I just hope the stories in the rest of the books are better and that the mysteries will be much more interesting to read about. Also, I'm not really that fond of Colin, and I hope that I will grow to like him.
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on 17 August 2017
I enjoyed this story a lot but there were little niggles that annoyed me. For instance Lady Emily was a childless widow but somehow managed to retain possession of Ashton Hall which would have become the property of Lord Ashton's heir, as would the London house unless specifically willed to Emily. Much of Emily's fortune would also have gone to the heir except for her dowry which would have remained hers, and any personal money, provided this is set after 1880 when the married woman's property act came into full force.
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Lady Emily Ashton was widowed after only a few months of marriage and she now finds herself rich but constrained by Victorian society to stay in seclusion as she mourns her late husband Phillip. But she didn't really know her husband at all well and had accepted his proposal more to get away from her dominating mother than because she was in love.

Now she is bored and takes up the study of Greece and Rome and starts to learn Greek. Her husband was interested in antiquities and she wonders why everyone is so interested in his papers. Was he involved in something illegal and whom can she trust now?

I found the first half of this book slow going but I persevered because I liked Emily and felt sorry for her situation. The nook became much more interesting and exciting in the second half and Emily grows and matures as the story progresses. The writing is good and I did like the characters and the background is well researched. I have bought the next one in the series and I'm sure I will enjoy it.
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on 2 May 2016
I did read somewhere that these were poor relations of another American authors' attempts to portray the English aristocracy in Victorian times, i cannot really agree. Yes, the books are of a similar genre, with similar characters et al. I just find I am unable to categorically state a preference. Both are enjoyable romps. I have not yet noticed any of the errors in this book that most writers from the USA make, particularly with regard to forms of address.
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on 14 May 2014
These books are pretty addictive. Great stories and engaging characters. They are only marred by the obvious naïveté of the presumably American author. She is writing about Victorian aristocratic characters who talk about "figuring things out", spending "the Fall" somewhere and something not happening "anytime soon". These jar and could do easily have been edited out by a competent English editor.

Otherwise, highly recommended.
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on 23 February 2011
A deeply satisfying read. Sometimes I have a problem with books written in the first person, but forgot my misgivings almost immediately as the heroine grew in confidence and decision with every chapter, admitted to her faults, learned from her mistakes and gradually came into her own.

The discussions on classical artefacts and literature were fascinating and the characters came strongly to life from their words and actions rather than their status and appearance. The dilemma of falling in love with a dead man and coming to terms with his potential fallibility was beautifully drawn and I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of characters who revealed themselves throughout the book.

I like a book where I have learned something and am inspired to read more on the subjects which are raised, and I love a book where the protagonists don't behave in predictable patterns.

Just finished it and have immediately ordered the next 2 in the series.
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on 16 September 2013
Honestly, I'm not a frequent historical fiction reader, I was just looking for something a little different from my normal fare so I was always going to be a difficult one to please - this review might help others in the same situation. For me, the book focused too much on romance and fashion over the mystery and intrigue. The author says at the end that she didn't want to put a modern character in a corset but I felt she did exactly that, I'm afraid. Some aspects were well researched but it felt like facts were being smattered throughout the book to validate the context to some extent. It is generally well written but just not particularly thrilling - an easy, pleasant read but not the exciting, immersive (within the culture of another period) book that I thought I might get from the other reviews.
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on 26 October 2013
I read a lot of books but I tend not to review them very often. Truthfully, I find it hard for many stories written today to live up to the standards of my old favorites, such as the Dorothy Sayers or Ngaio Marsh novels. It is not very often that I read a debut novel of such eloquent and seemingly effortless style--even as the author combines styles: telling the narrative in the first person, but also giving us snippets of diary entries, and behind it all, a comparison of the protagonists to Homer's Iliad.

In a word, this is utterly brilliant. I love layered storytelling. I love a story that gradually builds, that doles out information in measured amounts, never hitting you over the head with it but assuming you are intelligent and mature enough to wait for the story to unfold in good time. Tasha Alexander pulls you in immediately to the life of Lady Emily, a Victorian woman who married because of the conventions of the day, only to become widowed shortly thereafter. Life as a widow allows her freedoms she did not possess in the unmarried state--and would not have possessed in most marriages, either. She is quietly enjoying her widowhood and in no hurry to re-enter society, content to surround herself with her books and studies. When the story begins, we know as little of her dead husband as she did--but circumstances cause her to start going through her husband's belongings, and gradually, both Lady Emily and the reader fall in love with him. Lady Emily adopts his interests and studies, traveling in her quest to find out more about her husband, and becomes even more independent and unwilling to go back to the conventions that society (and her mother) demand, as her period of mourning is gradually drawing to a close.

I shan't spoil this for you by telling you more. All I can say is that Lady Emily begins to doubt the story she's been told about her husband's death on a safari in Africa, to the point where she thinks he might even still be alive. Author Alexander draws you into this story masterfully, in such a manner that you feel everything Lady Emily herself is experiencing, and you are holding your breath as you race through the final scenes. I was not only delighted with this story, I was ecstatic to discover there are more in the series.
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on 2 November 2016
The author seemed to be unsure which kind of book she was writing. It alternates between a Regency romance and very thinly a mystery. In both kinds the book is tedious and it is far too long.
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on 21 July 2017
The first in a series which I aim to collect -something a little different which I really enjoyed.
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