Just about everybody who loves romance has at least one Bertrice Small novel on their shelves. Set in sweeping exotic locales, her larger-than-life characters stride through the pages of her novels, often enjoying quite erotic sexual encounters as they go along. I must confess to finding that a little Bertrice Small goes a long way, rather like a slice of a decadent dessert – it looks wonderful but you can only take so much!
Deceived, however, is a quite pleasant surprise. Aurora Kimberly swears she’ll wed for love alone (yeah, we’ve heard that how many times before?), and so arranges a switch with her younger sister when she learns she’s been betrothed since birth to the unknown Duke of Farminster, Valerian Hawkesworth. (A definite “A+” for the name, Bertrice, it’s just perfect for the hero!!)
Well, in this relatively predictable plot, it turns out that Aurora was an idiot for not marrying Valerian, and her sister Cally is just an idiot on principle. And, let’s face it, there are only so many ways to get rid of a wife who is in the way of the big romance, so the developments in this book do not come as a huge surprise, either. However, both Valerian and Aurora are very likeable characters – Valerian is an excellent portrayal of how trapped by circumstances a man could be in those times, and Aurora’s dedication to her family and her duty is admirable. She’s also one sexy little piece of work, too, unashamed about her physical curiosity or her enjoyment of her burgeoning sensuality.
This was an enjoyable book, a little over-the-top at times, but it kept my attention and swept me back into a time of ruffles, lace and elegance. In fact, I may just have a little room left over for another Bertrice Small book if I can find one that is as charming.