Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

And Only to Decieve

Saturday, April 7, 2007

And Only to Deceive (2005) Tasha Alexander

And Only to Deceive

The deception in this book? The text, “A Novel of Suspense.”

I’ve been in the mood for historical mysteries, and so when this one came up recommend on Amazon–and on sale–I decided to try it.

My feelings when reading this book kept swinging between annoyance and hopeful interest. Unfortunately, as a mystery, I have to say that this book rates more on the annoyance scale. Which is too bad, because if this book have been categorized differently I think I might have enjoyed it a lot more.

Emily married Philip Ashton primarily to escape her mother who wanted her daughter to find a grand match. Philip seemed nice enough and spent a great deal of time away from home on hunting trips, which allowed her time to read and do as she pleased. But her plans for her life are thrown awry when soon after her wedding, her husband dies while on a safari in Africa. Following society’s rules, she must now go into mourning for two years, meaning she can only wear black and gray, cannot dance, and must generally live a sheltered life until her period of mourning is over.

Everyone comes to offer her their condolences, but she hardly knew the man to who she was wed, so despite the fact she feels little sorrow at his death, she must pretend to be the grieving widow. But something strange happens; as she reads her late husband’s papers and learns more about his pursuits and interests, she becomes interested in this man she hardly knew, and slowly finds herself falling in love with him. But what she also discovers in these papers is that this man who intrigues her so in death may have lead a far different life from the one she believed.

I was expecting mystery and suspense, but what I got was romance and introspection. And I actually quite liked the introspection. However, I found it completely obvious who the bad guy was, and also who the heroine was going to fall in love with. So that pretty much removed the suspense from the story for me. Because of COURSE the heroine would never have the bad taste to fall in love with a cad and a criminal.

“Please do not imagine I think less of you after hearing your confession. On the contrary, I admire your honesty.” He put his hand lightly on my cheek and left.

I remained standing for a moment after he departed, and placed my hand where his had rested on my cheek; it was as if I could still feel his touch.


I think what frustrated me the most was that several times I thought, “Hey! She’s doing something clever here!” and regained interest in the mystery, only to discover, no, not really clever.

But as I said, as a story–but not as a mystery–this book worked on several levels. The characters were interesting and the writing was good. It was only the mystery I found lacking. The part of the story I found most interesting was Emily’s discovery of her husband and his interests, and how her feelings for him changed and evolved as she discovered who he was. It was very interesting to see her build up an idealized version of the man who was her husband, and then be confronted with the reality of who her husband had actually been.

If you’re looking for a good mystery, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for an interesting story but not expecting mystery or suspense, then you may want to check out And Only to Deceive


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