An Heiress’s Guide to Deception and Desire is the second book in the A Lady’s Guide series by Manda Collins. I had previously read A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem which is the first book in the series. Inside of that book, the reader was able to get a little bit of a preview into the tense relationship between Miss Caroline Hardcastle and Lord Valentine Thorn. In the second book of the series, it is revealed that the two were betrothed once upon a time until Caro broke it off when she found Val discussing her lack of finesse with his brother. Although the two have tried to avoid each other, they both are part of the same crowds and have periodically ran into each other. And now, they are finding themselves having to work together to solve the disappearance of Caro’s close friend Effie.
Caro is far from what would be perceived as “normal” for a woman during the Victorian era. She is not afraid to speak her mind, dive head first into various scenarios, and she is also part of a duo writing a column in the newspaper regarding the crimes in the community. Most men find Caro’s level of brashness unsuitable but, Lord Val is honestly intrigued by it. He enjoys his bantering with her and finds very desirable. Although there is a mystery afoot, there is much more romance involved than mystery.
I really enjoyed watching Caro and Van banter and reconnect with each other on a more personal level. It becomes noticeable very early on that neither character has really gotten over their broken engagement. They try to deny it but it is obvious to everyone around them. This is a historical romance that uses a steamy carriage ride make out session, an awkward situation turned into a fake engagement, and tense family moments to move the story forward. The fake engagement was probably my favorite part because there really wasn’t anything fake about it. It was all real and it was fun to watch these strong-headed characters from different sides of the social stratosphere realize the depth of their love.
The mystery also kept my attention. This time around it was a disappearance versus a murder so I enjoyed seeing a different type of storyline. As Caro, Val, and their friends searched for clues, they had me trying to figure out where the missing woman was as well. I think that there was just the right amount of build up for the mystery to make it both believable and enjoyable. I also liked how the characters from the previous novel were involved and new characters were introduced.
A Lady’s Guide to Deception and Desire was a pretty fast read for me. It was kept light with the romance but gripping with the mystery. There was not anything overly gruesome involve and there was some steamy chemistry between Caro and Val. I look forward to continuing with this series when the next installment is released. I don’t think you necessarily have to read them in order but, A Lady’s Guide To Mischief and Mayhem does give you a good introduction to these characters of Caro and Val. Both stories would be good for readers who enjoy strong female characters, steamy romances, and a touch of mystery in a historical setting.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**