cover image An Heiress’s Guide to Deception and Desire

An Heiress’s Guide to Deception and Desire

Manda Collins. Forever, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3615-9

Collins follows A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem with a fun second chance romance between Miss Caroline “Caro” Hardcastle, a manufacturer’s daughter, and Lord Valentine Thorn, the heir to a dukedom. Collins classifies her work as “historical romantic suspense,” but there’s little suspense and a minimum of romantic development here; it’s more a workmanlike historical mystery with romance trappings. Caro, having ended a brief betrothal to Val four years earlier, is drawn into his orbit again when her dear friend and Val’s cousin Frank’s fiancée, Miss Effie Warrington, disappears and Frank falls under suspicion. The estranged couple fall into a squabbling collaboration to find Effie and exonerate her betrothed. Class snobbery spurred their breakup and continues to drive their present conflict: Effie is an actress and deemed unworthy by Val’s family, just as Caro was. The mystery and romance plots unfold in expected tropes from this premise, and period atmosphere is noticeably thin. Still, Caro is feisty and Val is angstily ripe for reform, making for enjoyable banter and a handful of plainspoken confrontations that, if anachronistic, are nonetheless satisfying. Readers are in for a frothy romp. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Nov.)