Title: And Only to Deceive
Author: Tasha Alexander
Release Date: October 11, 2005
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Emily only married her husband, Viscount Philip Ashton, to escape her oppressive mother and to fulfill the expectations for a woman in Victorian England. When she receives word that he has been killed six months later, she can’t help but be relieved. But when Emily starts digging into Philip’s past and trying to understand the circumstances of his death, she realizes that she never knew her husband, and that there be more to the situation than meets the eye.
I’d heard some good things about Tasha Alexander’s Emily Ashton series so I was excited to start reading the first book in the series, And Only To Deceive. Most of the negative things that have been said about it (at least, to my knowledge), are unfavorable comparisons to Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series (Silent in the Grave, Silent in the Sanctuary, and Silent on the Moor). Therefore, I set out determined to judge the book based on its own merits rather than juxtaposing it against a series I loved.
However, once I started it, I found that task much easier said than done. The two women – Julia Grey and Emily Ashton – have a lot in common. They lived during similar time periods and were strong-willed and independent. Both lost their husbands within months of marrying and were left wealthy widows. And both made surprising discoveries after their husbands’ deaths, which led to mysteries that needed solving.
Between these two women, I’m sorry to say Emily Ashton comes out the poorer. She’s not quite as witty or charming as Julia. While interesting, the mystery she finds herself embroiled in isn’t quite as captivating and is much easier to solve. Additionally, I found Emily to be a bit slow to face facts that seemed to be staring her in the face. She took unnecessary risks and was subject to temper tantrums that made her seem like a petulant teenager. That’s not to say I didn’t like her, just that it was difficult not to prefer Julia when the premises are so similar.
However, And Only To Deceive was still a fun book. I really enjoyed the discussion about Greek art. Additionally, the ongoing talks about Homer’s The Iliad, and specifically, the Hector versus Achilles debate, was definitely a highlight of the book. While not enthralling, the mystery of the book was definitely interesting enough to make me want to read the second book.
If you haven’t read the Lady Julia Grey series but want to, I’d recommend reading this one first. It’s well done in its own right, and the constant comparisons, while inevitable for obvious reasons, do it no justice. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the Emily Ashton series.