Review: “When A Lady Deceives” by Tara Kingston

“When A Lady Deceives” by Tara Kingston

A review by Vanessa.

I received this book for free in return for participation in the release book tour, and an honest review.

When Jennie Quinn discovers her most recent informant murdered in the streets of Whitechapel she reacts predictably; she loses her lunch in the gutter. But Jennie is anything but a predictable woman. Her determination, drive, and sense of justice have pushed her to become a successful and respected female journalist at a time in Victorian London when such a thing was quite rare. Jennie knows who killed her lovely actress turned informant. In fact, her contact with the lady is likely what caused her demise. Now Jennie will do whatever it takes, including taking a job as barmaid for a ruthless mobster, to catch the culprit. If only the mobster’s right hand man wasn’t so distractingly handsome… But Jennie has never let anything derail her from her course. Harwick has been ruling London’s criminal element for years, and Jennie has been trying to expose his crimes and bring him down. But she’s not the only one who has that goal firmly in mind.

Matthew Colton does not like having the new auburn haired barmaid around. She has a penchant for getting into trouble poking around all the bar’s patrons, and she is distractingly beautiful… a distraction he does not have time for. He has already sacrificed years of his life trying to bring down the man who had his partner murdered. A sacrifice he was willing to make, even when it meant being disgraced from the police force and having to work closely with that same man. He never questioned his sacrifice, until a certain beautiful woman walked into his life and he realized that the man he had become would never deserve a woman like her. But together they just might find the justice they’ve been searching for.

Though the story does occasionally wander into the realm of the cliché, I much prefer the term classic. While the characters are at times predictable, they cannot be described as boring. The romantic entanglement stays true to what a reader would normally expect from an historical romance genre novel. However, that does not make it any less engaging. The innocent waif overwhelmed with desire for the dark, handsome, more experienced rapscallion is an evident theme, but it’s the twists on this theme that make it the engaging piece that it is. The lady may be innocent of the effects of true desire, but not because she has been coddled and sheltered. It is because she has been through so much, chased her dreams as a journalist, and never met a man who truly made her feel more alive than her work does. The handsome rapscallion is drawn to the lady as expected, but what is most unexpected is how he holds back. He tries to resist her charms because he believes she deserves better than himself. And in a thoroughly modern twist, the lady gives in to her desire for him not because she seeks the expected route of love and marriage. She simply wants to fully experience and explore what she feels for him.

In addition, throughout all the busy back and forth of the romantic story arc, there are also interesting interactions with secondary characters. The mystery, murder and mayhem broiling in Whitechapel is an excellent backdrop for the story. Background characters are intriguing and well written, but sometimes a little under utilized. Kingston writes characters you want to know more about, and I hope that is a problem that will be rectified in what is likely to be a future series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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