Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Perfect 10: THE HARMLESS DECEPTION by Lesley-AnneMcLeod

A Perfect 10
Uncial Press -
ISBN: 978-1-60174-091-5
May 2010
Regency Romance

Springtime in Regency London

Grace Whitton's father died without a male heir when she was sixteen. Grace and her mother were left with little resource, no family and, apparently, no loyal friends. This left Grace with some bitterness toward her former class, but her mother soldiered on by using what assets they had to buy a millinery shop in London with rooms upstairs. Now that Grace is truly an orphan, she continues to cater to the gentry and merchant classes. She's not particularly enthusiastic about the pair of country bumpkins who enter the shop one day. But Grace is a little off on her assumptions. Tansy Evens and her brother Rufus, Baron Evenswood, may be from the far north of England, but they are not bumpkins. Tansy is a lively young miss eager to make her come-out in town this season. And while Rufus is happy in the country and loath to dress or act the dandy, he's intelligent and prosperous, and much devoted to the little sister he's raised. Too devoted perhaps, as he allows Tansy to wheedle him into a plot against his better judgment. It seems they have neither contacts nor the knowledge of how to go on that would enable them to be welcomed into society. Grace soon finds herself persuaded into going along with Tansy's scheme as well.

And just what is this "harmless deception" the three agree to? Tansy and Rufus need all the help they can get to make a successful entrance into the Beau Monde. It would be much simpler and would harm no one if Grace were to pass as Rufus's wife. . .

Do not think that Grace and Rufus are completely comfortable with the plan...or with each other. Rufus suspects Grace has ulterior motives and doesn't hide his hostility, while Grace finds the handsome baron strangely disturbing. But both of them so wish to give Tansy the time of her life that they are blind to the many ways the scheme can go awry.

THE HARMLESS DECEPTION succeeds on several levels. Ms. McLeod has a convincing Regency voice that readily carries one away to the time and place of the story. She always comes up with a wholly original plot or a fresh twist on a classic one, and this time is no exception. Her people are complex and unique. We're given a deep look into Rufus's character, what his life was like that made him the man he is in the beginning and how he changes again. We see Grace come to terms with her past and her feelings. And the utterly engaging Tansy matures before our eyes. Add good humor, a touch of suspense, several interesting supporting characters, a vivid enactment of a Regency London Season and---not to forget a romance or two---you have a Perfect 10 of a read.

One needn't be an avid Regency fan to enjoy THE HARMLESS DECEPTION; it's a darn good read for anyone. And be sure to check into Ms. McLeod's other titles as well, high quality stories from a quality publisher.

Jane Bowers

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