«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.»
England, Victorian Era. Lady Emily Ashton, newly wed, has just lost her husband to a raging fever while he was on an African safari with a couple of friends. Having married him to escape her mother’s rule, she’s not as grief stricken as she should be, Philip was a stranger to her and she almost feels relief at his departure. But oddly, after a while, through his friends and acquaintances, the books he liked to read and the antiquities he collected, Emily perceives a side of her husband she didn’t know existed and as shocking as it is, he seemed to actually be in love with her.
Seduced by this unknown facet of the man she married, Lady Emily starts to take interest in the same things he did and slowly falls in love with him, finally feeling the grief of his loss. But as she digs through the past she uncovers facts that were better left untouched, not everything is as it seems and maybe Philip wasn’t such an honest and trustworthy man after all. Who was the real Philip and what actually happened to him in Africa?
We accompany Lady Emily in the pursuit for the truth and can’t help but fall in love with her, we watch her grow as a person and especially as an independent woman who isn’t afraid to stray from the norm and start studying Greek and drinking Port instead of Sherry like every other respectable lady. She makes new friends, such as Cecile du Lac, a French widow who collects husbands, Lady Margaret, an independent American who prefers books to suitors and Colin Hargreaves, her deceased husband’s best friend who is our dashing hero. I felt that Emily changed and grew throughout the book and in my eyes became real and believable, as opposed to Lady Julia Grey, Deanna Raybourn’s heroine, who always stays the same and doesn’t seem to learn anything in Silent in the Grave.
Although there’s a mystery to be solved here, its resolution is somewhat predictable, but it doesn’t spoil our enjoyment of the story, our focus is always on Emily and her life, the mystery is just an added bonus. I do have one complaint regarding this book though, we don’t get to see as much of Colin Hargreaves as I’d like, the author seems to tease us with his quick scenes and leaves us wanting more. Not fair! :-P
So, if you like cosy historical mysteries with a touch of humour and romance, then this is the right series for you, don’t hesitate to pick up And Only to Deceive, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!
Review also published here.