Lady Emily Ashton married her husband simply to get out of her mother’s house. When he dies less than six months after their marriage on a hunting trip in Africa, Emily does not know what to feel except perplexed. Everyone close to her husband assumes that she is mourning him dreadfully and sprinkles her with anecdotes, assuming that she’ll relate. Emily, however, barely knew her husband and struggles to orient herself in this world. When she learns that her husband felt a great deal more for her than she did for him, she begins searching for his true character, and in the bargain learns about disturbing fakes at the British Museum. Could the husband for whom she has begun to feel a posthumous affection be the criminal, or is it one of his friends?
I waited a while to write this review because I was a little perplexed as to how I felt about it. I still am. While I was reading the book, my last of the Read-a-Thon, I loved it. I continued reading after the Read-a-Thon was over because I enjoyed it so much, but towards the end I started to feel a little deflated about it and now that I’ve finished, my feelings are mixed. I think it has a lot to do with where the plot went. Emily convinces herself that a specific person is guilty with the coercion of another friend. I was convinced that person #1 was perfectly innocent while person #2 was definitely guilty. Sorry, if you’ve read the book, you will know who I mean. Lo and behold, I was right, but I think her willing ignorance and inability to think for herself – after going in and doing all that research and coming to so many great conclusions – really got to me. I liked person #1!
I originally went for this book because it reminded me of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries (Silent in the Grave) which I found absolutely fabulous. Husband very recently dead, later evidence of his suspicious behavior in regards to someone, widow finding her wings while solving a mystery directly involving dead husband. I think this one suffered a little in comparison, which is unfortunate, especially so because there are things I loved about this book. I loved Emily’s interest in the Classics, her desire to learn ancient Greek and really get into her research. The way she went about falling love with her husband after his death was sweet, if a little strange; but the feeling of regret is one that comes through beautifully and is really touching. She realizes that she could have loved this man if she’d looked twice at him and the fact that she didn’t bother really hurts her.
I think this book is really well-written, too. I know it completely sucked me in within the first few pages and I can’t say that about many of my more recent reads. Even though I solved the mystery, I still wanted to know the exact details and I wanted to see what would happen when Emily figured it out. Like I said, this book kept me reading after the Read-a-Thon was over and I’d spent 12 1/2 of the past 24 reading away and I plan on reading the rest of the series. Even though it isn’t the best, I would still recommend it if you are looking for more like Deanna Raybourn’s excellent series or, better yet, if you haven’t read them and want to try this genre, which is sort of more historical fiction than mystery but still has both.
Buy And Only to Deceive on Amazon.