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Double Deceit

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Book reviewed by Valarie Pelissero

Fifteen years of living with a puritanical father hounding his every step has goaded Anthony Torwell Linden into proving his father right about his supposedly debauched character. It has now been almost ten years since Tony has done anything to earn his bad reputation, but society does not forget so easily and each year Tony's reputation worsens through gossip alone, so Tony has become the reclusive Anthony Torwell, respected antiquarian and authority on Roman ruins. Hiding behind his false identity, Tony excavates only the most remote sites, never appearing in public lest his false reputation precedes him. Even Sir Winton, the man who just won Tony's inheritance from Lord Linden, refuses to allow Tony to marry the daughter he reviles, so Tony perpetrates a small deception. Knowing that Sir Winton has only seen Tony from a distance, Tony convinces his cousin Jon, who looks enough like him, to take Tony's place when they arrive at Vale House, thereby allowing Tony to court Sir Winton's daughter without his reputation hindering him.

Alexandra Merideth Vale is tall, with a fiery temper to match her red hair. Her father, Sir Winton, has done nothing but belittle her since she grew taller than he and laments of ever marrying off his freakish daughter. But with one roll of the dice Sir Winton wins the estate of Viscount Linden and he has a dowry that will tempt any man to overlook her oddities. At twenty-six, Alex is more interest in excavating Roman ruins than she is in marriage. When she learns of her father's "good fortune" she suspects that he cheated, however, sooner than she would have liked, Tony Linden and his cousin arrive on her doorstep. Knowing that she could never marry a man like her father, Alex wants to judge Tony's character before committing herself to marriage, and just like the men, Alex and her cousin Sarah switch identities, which allows Alex, as the companion, to observe "Linden" while he is pursuing her companion, who is now "the heiress."

Neither Alex nor Tony meant to continue their masquerade longer than a day or two, but their own desires conspire against them. When Alex learns that Anthony Torwell is Linden's cousin she is in awe, and she grabs this opportunity to learn architectural methods from her idol. The longer she spends in Torwell's company, the more she comes to love him, which makes her deception that much harder to confess as she knows that she can never marry him. What will she do when she discovers she fell in love with the right man after all? When Tony hatched this scheme, he never imagined that it would be Miss Vale's companion who would make him wish his reputation was real, but he must save his parents and marry Sir Winton's daughter to gain back his estate, never knowing that the woman he loves is the right woman for him in every way.

Double Deceit is just one of those fun stories that makes you feel good. Tony and Alex were both laboring under false assumptions about the other's character, and when they discover that they have been deceived by the other the sparks fly, their stubborn natures take the lead, and you are uncertain if they will be able to reconcile. In one of the books funniest moments, having Tony's cousin, the vicar, portray him backfires as Jon, unaccustomed to socializing or drinking, gets thoroughly foxed on their first night at the Vale house and proceeds to drool all over Sarah and fall asleep on her bosom.

Because of his reputation, Tony feels completely alone, he is always playing a part, no one has ever been able to get to know the real him until Miss Merideth. With her Tony is finally able to be the respected antiquarian and the charmer that he naturally is, but as he continues to put off the truth about his identity, and he falls head over heals for Miss Vale's companion he realizes that love is more important than duty and he no longer cares if he loses his inheritance. Both Tony and Alex are too stubborn for their own good, yet they are both so much alike. Only their cousins truly know them, everyone else just sees the masks they use to hide the pain of their families indifference.

Naturally, love knows who is right for whom, and the right couples end up living happily ever after. Double Deceit is filled with strong-willed, yet charming characters, witty dialogue and laugh out loud moments. Find yourself a copy of Double Deceit and enjoy the fun.

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“A double case of switched identities causes fun and mayhem in this delightful story.”

October 1999, 219 pages
Publisher: Signet
ISBN: 0451198549

Back Cover Blurb:

Aspiring antiquarian Alexandra Vale is more interested in digging up ancient artifacts than she is in landing a husband, but her diabolical father wants her married off – the sooner the better! And when he wins Sir Linden's vast estate in a dice game, he's sure that his troublesome daughter will soon be out of his life for good – with such a hefty dowry, eager suitors will be clamoring for her hand. First in line is Sir Linden's son, Tony, who's hatched a devilish plot of win back his inheritance…

Rumor has it that Tony's nothing more than a rascally rabble-rouser, and to protect herself from his notoriously roguish ways, Alex devises a cunning plan of her own. She and Tony both rely on clever accomplices to effect the ultimate deceit – but the two schemers discover that even in the most complex charades, the heart will always find the truth….

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