This book is: delightful.
Other elements: con men, family duty, steamy hijinks in carriages, forbidden love, secrets and pies.
Read it: if you like well-written, plot-driven romances.
Overall rating: 7.75/10
I get a fair number of emails from authors who want me to read their books (and publishers who want me to read their authors’) books. I appreciate the interest, but almost all of them are from people who haven’t bothered to glance at my website.
They range from the delicately vague (“We always enjoy your insightful articles about your topic, especially the recent ones. Because of your interests, we feel you would appreciate this novel!”) to the completely off-base. I almost always say no.
Rose Lerner sent me the best blind book pitch email I’ve ever seen. She’d clearly read my blog, she’s witty, she was personable AND she chatted with me about antique jewelry. That, and her book was right up my alley: a story about a Jewish con man in Regency England. The book’s description ends with “Warning: contains secrets and pies.”
Con men? Well-deployed puns? Sign me up.
I was hoping to like True Pretenses because I enjoyed my chat with its author so much, and guess what? I did.
The characters are complicated and deeply rooted in their own individual histories, histories that are gradually revealed to the reader throughout the story in a satisfying and gradual enlightening. Said individual histories get pretty grim: this story actually went a bit darker in plot than the romances I normally gravitate towards, but it pulled me right in. The writing is vivid and detailed; it’s hard to resist.
The story centers around two pairs of siblings: Ash Cohen and his younger brother, and Lydia Reeve and her younger brother. Each older sibling has taken on the role of “the responsible one” and is in some distress because of it. The characters meet at a pivotal point in their lives, hearts and loins are inflamed, and hijinks ensue.
Also: I am a sucker for couples that get handsey in carriages, which happens to great effect in True Pretenses. You go, amorous couples. You’re in an enclosed box, take advantage of it!
In summary: if you enjoy historical romances, stories about sibling relationships, and/or stories about con men, True Pretenses is definitely worth your time.
My thanks to Rose Lerner for providing me with a review copy of True Pretenses.
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