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And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily) by Tasha…
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And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily) (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Tasha Alexander

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1,085557,675 (3.64)83
Member:majkia
Title:And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily)
Authors:Tasha Alexander
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2006), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, Recently Read, Mystery
Rating:***1/2
Tags:ebook, period mystery, 13 in 13, ROOT, TIOLI, AlphaCAT

Work details

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander (2005)

  1. 80
    Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (francescadefreitas)
    francescadefreitas: Similar themes, set in a similar time period.
  2. 40
    Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Unconventional heroines rebel against Victorian mores to pursue their intellectual interests. The Elizabeth Peters novels are sillier (including prodding people with parasols) and is set against a backdrop of Egyptian archaeology. The Tasha Alexander mysteries are less openly subversive of Victorian morals, and And Only to Deceive draws on Homer's Iliad.… (more)
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    A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch (TheLibraryhag)
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    The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry (ddelmoni)
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    Consequences of Sin by Clare Langley-Hawthorne (nancyK18)
    nancyK18: In her debut book the author propvides readers with a Victorian mystery featuring a likeable character.
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English (54)  Piratical (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
I've been meaning to read Tasha Alexander's much-touted novel of suspense, And Only to Deceive, for some time now. Set in Victorian England, this is the story of newly widowed Lady Emily Ashton, who is sorting through her emotions over the death of a husband she barely knew and didn't love. As she learns more about the late Philip Ashton, she discovers his deep love for her and begins to reciprocate, alas, too late. At the same time, she becomes involved in the complicated underworld of black-market antiquities, art forgeries, and scandal reaching up to the highest ranks of the aristocracy. Was her husband involved in these unethical dealings before his death?

The use of Greek poetry and tidbits of various other classic writings lends the novel an air of elegance, which unfortunately is dispelled by the rather stilted dialogue and plodding plot. Nothing much seems to happen besides a succession of conversations and the occasional passionate kiss. The "mystery" is not terribly compelling, and I didn't find Lady Emily the memorable heroine that so many other readers have. Despite the author's laudable desire to make her characters true to the period (no 21st-century people dressed up in 19th-century clothes), I'm not sure she succeeded. In particular, I found Lady Bromley an unconvincing caricature of a marriage-mad mother, so ridiculous and over the top that she quickly becomes boring.

This novel reminded me of Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave and its successors. Fairly enjoyable for an afternoon, but not something to which I'll return. ( )
  wisewoman | Jul 24, 2014 |
This felt so very much like … well, several books I've read before, but especially Silent in the Grave: Both were in the first person. In both, a Victorian lady is widowed, doesn't mind very much, finds out much later poor old hubby, Philip, Viscount Ashton, was murdered, and conducts investigation alongside husband's friend (with whom there are sparks) while stressing constantly about what to wear and when can I get out of mourning for heaven's sake it's not like I loved him. In both, I wound up with a deep impatience for, if not outright dislike of, the heroine.

Emily's first reaction to news of her husband's death is relief. He wasn't a bad fellow, but she only married him to get away from her mother's constant nagging, and hey – a couple of years wearing ugly mourning colours, and now she's free and clear and can do what she wants. Yay. Unfortunately, as time goes by, Emily succumbs to her husband's friends' opinions of him, and begins to fall morbidly in love with his memory, the ideal image of the man she never bothered to get to know. He genuinely loved her; that's enough to start her falling. Too late.

In her fervor of self-flagellation for being unable to face Philip's friends and family, she begins to throw herself into his passions. Well, two of them; she still can't abide his beloved hunting (which would have been quite a can of worms if he had lived), but she plunges into the study of ancient Greek and the appreciation of ancient Greek art. In about five minutes she begins to uncover what must be a forgery ring, and, fearing her husband might have been involved, investigates.

She is shaken, trying very hard to reconcile this criminal activity with her green worship of him. Then the book catches up to my prediction (based on the classic soap opera warning "did you see the body?") and she is told Ashton might still be alive, despite his best friend's insistence that he was there and watched the man die. She is thrilled, determined to move heaven and earth to find him and nurse him lovingly back to health. A little ways into that process, I had an intuition that he couldn't be alive after all – and I was right. I've said it before: if I can predict how your book is going to turn out, you've done something wrong. And so he is revealed to yes, be dead, and in fact, have been murdered, and she basically shrugs her shoulders and swans off to revel some more in her romantic ideal of the widow who, see? Really did love her husband after all (if too late).

Excerpts from Ashton's journal never really pull their own weight; they are mostly inconsequential, unrelated to the chapters they proceed, and never echo what Emily thinks about them. Though I suppose I should be happy the author spared me the long and boring passages about hunting, still, on the flip side there was remarkably little about the wedding night. Which isn't said out of prurience, but just because Emily was sort of looking forward to what he wrote.

And the ending … the wrapup of the story was satisfying enough, but once everything was explained away there were still far too many pages left. And it just kept going. All through the book Ashton's friend (whatsit) had been encouraging Emily to go to Greece, to the villa in Santorini Ashton had prepared for her. I had rather expected that to be the next book – it would be perfect, I thought, to build it up, maybe have her planning the trip as this book ended, and then set the second book in the series on the island.

Nope.

The book was quite readable, which is why I did read it through. But it was disjointed. As a friend pointed out in her review, there was a great deal attempted, and not really succeeded at. And one major thing keeping this book from a higher rating was the completely incomprehensible handling of the forger. He is stunningly gifted, and has no problem selling copies of ancient work: he makes no pretense that they are the real thing, after all, and what his buyer does with the work once it's his isn't the artist's problem. Which … is a nice way to look at it, if you can manage it, but isn't very realistic. Up to that point it reminded me very strongly of the case of the artist Alceo Dossena and his buyer, his dealer, Alfredo Fasoli. Dossena claimed ignorance of the ultimate dispositions of his work, too, but he wasn't quite so cheerful about the fact that while he got a pittance for the art his dealer would sell it on, as original, for thousands. He sued. This guy? He has absolutely no problem with the fact that his name is still unknown, that the scores of hours of work and talent invested in every piece is being attributed to others, and – least likely – has no problem with living on the edge of poverty while his dealer is raking it in. Worst, though, is the fact that this one forger handles several different media, no problem. Sculpture? Got it. Black figure urn? No problem. And so on. I went to art school; I’ve always been interested in art forgery and I’ve read a bit about it. I know full well that artists are more than capable of great things in more than one medium – but the likelihood that a man would be so very, very good at pottery AND sculpture as to have his work pass for the best of the best among the ancients, including Praxiteles, is incredibly small. For him to be so gifted and still not be able to make a living for himself without being completely unscrupulous… maybe it's not unrealistic, but it seemed so.

Suddenly, about three quarters of the way through the book, Emily develops a very lawyerly turn of mind, knowing instinctively finer points of what is and is not strictly legal and what will and will not convict a man. The reformation of a female main character from fluffy-headed clotheshorse at the beginning to strong and capable independent woman by the end is no new thing in fiction, but (or maybe "and so") it has to be handled well to be really believable. I'm not so sure about Emily. ( )
1 vote Stewartry | Jul 12, 2014 |
I enjoyed this one enough to buy the next two while they are marked down. I think the thing that kept me from liking it more was Emily herself. I sympathized with her in many ways, the reasons she got married, her freedom as a widow, her belated feelings and grief for her husband. But when it came to the actual "mystery" she feel a little short. It could be because she seemed like she was trying to be Amelia Peabody and fell short. For one thing, she was a pretty horrendous judge of character. But I liked the setup, Colin is certainly swoonworthy enough and I'm betting Emily will grow on me. ( )
  CCleveland | Nov 27, 2013 |
I received the ARC of the eighth book in this series and due to my compulsions which include having to eventually finish every book I have started I also have trouble starting a series without having read the previous installments. I forced my self through book eight but I knew I wanted to know more of Lady Emily's earlier adventures and this book does not disappoint.

Lady Emily comes upon her detective skills quite accidentally. After a brief courtship she marries Lord Ashton mainly to get away from her overbearing mother. Promptly after the marriage Emily's new husband travels to Africa for a hunting trip and dies of what is assumed to be an illness. Emily finds herself a widow before she even had a chance to know her husband. After Lord Ashton's death there is a lot on interest in his personal papers. As Emily attempts to discern the nature of this interest she begins to learn about her former husband and to her surprise he really loved her. He even had a romantic nickname for her that other people knew but to which she was oblivious. As Emily learns more about Lord Ashton she becomes more interested in finding out what he was up to in the days before his death. She is not the only one, his best friend Colin has made it a habit to start visiting Emily. Is he involved somehow in what was going on with Lord Ashton? Lady Emily's discoveries lead her to the British Museum and a world of forgeries as well as the fact that her husband's death may not have been as random as she first thought.

I found myself thoroughly enjoying the first installment of the Lady Emily mystery series. Probably the only thing I didn't like was the endless descriptions of all of the poor animals that Lord Ashton murdered. His pursuit of killing an elephant was so disturbing to me that I didn't find the idea that someone might have done in him distasteful at all. I guess killing was the fashion of the time which is why I am glad I live in the time of conservation. Aside from that I loved Lady Emily and her spunk. Fans of Downton Abbey and the cozy mystery will find themselves satisfied here and I look forward to Emily's next adventure and progression in her love life. ( )
  arielfl | Nov 19, 2013 |
Eh, not half as well written as Raybourn's novels. ( )
  Bookaliciouspam | Sep 20, 2013 |
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Epigraph
On first looking into Chapman's Homer

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific - and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise -
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

- John Keats
Dedication
FOR MATT
"my soul's far better part..."
First words
Few people would look kindly on my reasons for marrying Philip; neither love nor money nor his title induced me to accept his proposal.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily's dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married so cavalierly. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love with his wife. Emily becomes fascinated with this new image of her dead husband and she immerses herself in all things ancient and begins to study Greek.

Emily's intellectual pursuits and her desire to learn more about Philip take her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum, one of her husband's favorite places. There, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. And to complicate matters, she's juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond the marrying kind. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprises about Philip and causes her to question the role in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006114844X, Paperback)

From gifted new writer Tasha Alexander comes a stunning novel of historical suspense set in Victorian England, meticulously researched and with a twisty plot that involves stolen antiquities, betrayal, and murder

And Only to Deceive

For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily's dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married so cavalierly. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love with his wife. Emily becomes fascinated with this new image of her dead husband and she immerses herself in all things ancient and begins to study Greek.

Emily's intellectual pursuits and her desire to learn more about Philip take her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum, one of her husband's favorite places. There, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. And to complicate matters, she's juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond the marrying kind. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprises about Philip and causes her to question the role in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Accepting a dashing viscount's marriage proposal as part of a plan to escape her overbearing mother, Emily finds herself widowed early after her marriage and subsequently learns that her husband was not who he professed to be, a discovery that prompts an investigation in the quiet corridors of the British Museum.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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