Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: historical fiction
Published: April 11 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.
Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…
A Regency novel centered around a teenage romance, Duels and Deceptions is a cute if somewhat shallow historical young adult read. Much like the author's previous novel from Swoon Reads, Love, Lies and Spies, the plot follows two moderately well-developed characters as their stories intersect and then entwine in escapades both wild and mundane. Though there's nothing egregiously off about Duels and Deceptions, it just fails to make an original impression. It's not a bad story, or that Lydia and Robert are boring characters -- the fault lies in the alternatively predictable or outlandish progression of the book's plot and in the flat nature of the world around the two central players.
Lydia and Robert each have their strengths and weaknesses -- as love interests for one another and as characters in their own right, but the best thing Duels and Deceptions has going for it is their genuine chemistry and the banter that springs up between them. Even when the plot veered its most outlandish or predictable, the two of them remained engaging and interesting. The same cannot be said for the secondary characters involved in their lives, but much of the novel is about the romance between the two main characters anyway. If the plot had felt more substantial or had been less generic in its fruition or the secondary characters more lifelike, I think Duels and Deceptions could have been a 3-3.5 star book. But, as it is, this was a 2.5-star read and probably my last attempt from this author.