And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily Series #1)

( 165 )

Overview

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 ...

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And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily Series #1)

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Martha O'Connor
“Had Jane Austen written The Da Vinci Code, she may well have come up with this elegant novel.”
BookPage
“Engagingly suspenseful and rich with period detail.”
Denver Post
“Fans of Anne Perry and Elizabeth Peters will welcome this debut novel.”
Nashville Tennessean
“An admirable and literate debut novel.”
South Bend Tribune
“The story spans genres, appealing to lovers of suspense, history and romance...historically correct and beautifully done.”
I LOVE A MYSTERY newsletter
“The who-done-it is well designed and fun to follow. Tasha Alexander’s historical mystery is terrific.”
Nashville Scene
“An entertaining debut.”
I Love A Mystery newsletter
"The who-done-it is well designed and fun to follow. Tasha Alexander’s historical mystery is terrific."
Publishers Weekly
In this charming late Victorian romantic suspense novel, Emily, a young and beautiful widow, regrets her husband's African hunting expedition death less than is proper. The late Philip, Viscount Ashton, had a passion for classical antiquity, and Emily, in an attempt to get to know her husband postmortem, uses her newfound independence in London to study it. In the process, she forms a friendship with Cecile du Lac, a Parisian of a certain age, and realizes that there was more to Philip than she realized-including his genuine passion and love for her. The charming Colin Hargreaves may have been involved with Philip in art forgeries, and Andrew Palmer proposes to Emily and then offers evidence that Philip is still alive. By this time, Emily and Cecile are a well-practiced team of amateur sleuths: Phillip's secrets begin to emerge, and travel to Greece provides the possibilities of a new life. Alexander makes Emily light but sympathetic, and conveys period flavor without being ponderous. Her knowledge of the ethical dilemmas posed by Victorian etiquette is considerable; sexual chemistry in particular is handled with exquisite delicacy. The archeological background will lure readers who like to dig for their clues. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A young widow immerses herself in antiquity and uncovers a scandal in Alexander's Victorian-era suspense debut. Emily married Philip, a wealthy viscount, mainly to escape her overbearing mother's constant hectoring. Her new husband has two passions: acquiring ancient Greek vases and statuary, and big-game hunting. Shortly after their marriage, Philip leaves Emily in their London townhouse and embarks on an extended African safari. His fellow hunters, impoverished aristocrats Andrew and Arthur Palmer and best friend Colin Hargreaves, report that he died of a mysterious fever at camp. Widowed after only six months of marriage to a man she hardly knew, Emily is relieved and secretly exhilarated by her inherited fortune and the independence it offers. But she soon sees signs that Philip had had things to hide. A man with a scarred face stalks her while she is inspecting the antiquities her husband donated to the British Museum. Philip's desk and her Paris hotel room are ransacked. Colin, to whom she is attracted, is frustratingly unforthcoming about Philip's business dealings-and his own. Andrew, who at first charms Emily with his debonair cynicism about society, and his acceptance of her rebellions (drinking port instead of sherry, studying ancient Greek), turns hostile when she rejects his proposal. At the Louvre, she befriends Attewater, an expert forger who specializes in copying classical artifacts on commission. However, he will not identify his well-heeled patrons. Emily learns from this unsavory acquaintance that Philip's British Museum gifts are actually copies and the originals are stockpiled at his country estate. Then word comes through that Philip may actually be alive. Emily,who has fallen in love with her husband after reading his journal (sections of it introduce each chapter), prepares to go on safari to search for him. Following a long buildup, the payoff is rather too predictable, and the opulence insulating Emily insures that she's never truly in jeopardy. Pleasantly soporific.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061148446
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/10/2006
  • Series: Lady Emily Series , #1
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 141,752
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Tasha Alexander

When not reading, Tasha Alexander can be found hard at work on her next book featuring Emily Ashton.

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Read an Excerpt

And Only to Deceive

A Novel of Suspense
By Tasha Alexander

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Tasha Alexander
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060756713

Chatper One

Few people would look kindly on my reasons for marrying Philip; neither love nor money nor his title induced me to accept his proposal. Yet, as I look across the spans of Aegean Sea filling the view from my villas balcony, I cannot doubt that it was a surprisingly good decision.

The Viscount Ashton seemed an unlikely candidate to bring anyone much happiness, at least according to my standards. His fortune, moderate good looks, and impeccable manners guaranteed that hapless females would constantly fling themselves at him in the hope of winning his affection. They missed his defining characteristic, ensuring that he would never pay them more than the slightest polite attention: Philip was a hunter.

I mean this, of course, literally. Hunting possessed him. He spent as much time as his fortune would permit pursuing wild beasts. The dignified (although I would not choose to describe it as so) English hunt amused him, but he preferred big game and passed much of his time stalking his quarry on the plains of Africa. He could be found in London only briefly, at the height of the Season, when he limited his prey to potential brides. The image he presented could be described as striking, I suppose. He played the part of daring adventurer well.

My encounter with the dashing viscount began as such things typically do, at a soiree. I found the conversation lacking and longed to return home to the novel that had engrossed me all morning. Philip differed little from other men I met, and I had no interest in continuing the acquaintance. No interest, that is, until I decided to accept the inevitable and agree to marry.

My mother and I do not particularly enjoy each others company. From the day the queen kissed me during my presentation at court in Buckingham Palace, I heard from Mother constant reminders that my looks would soon fade, and she admonished me to do my best to catch a husband immediately. That I had refused several good offers continued to vex her, and I will not bore the reader with the details of these trivial events. Suffice it to say that I had little interest in marriage. I cannot claim that this was due to lofty ideals of love or outrage at the submission demanded by many husbands of their wives. Frankly, I considered the proposition of matrimony immensely boring. Married women I knew did scarcely more than bear children and order around their servants. Their time consumed by mundane details, the most excitement for which they could hope was some social event at which they could meet one another and complain about said children and servants. I preferred my life at home. At least as a single woman, I had time to pursue my own interests, read voraciously, and travel when opportunity presented.

Did I marry Philip, then, because of his keen sense of adventure? Did I long to travel to darkest Africa with him? Hardly. I married him because he happened to propose at a moment when accepting him seemed a simple way out of an increasingly unbearable situation.

As the months following my debut progressed, my mother became more and more desperate, her dearest wish having always been to see me make a brilliant match before the end of my first Season. She lamented continually; it was nearly impossible to converse with her on any other topic. Any topic, that is, other than the proposals being accepted by the daughters of her friends. She began to point out the slightest wrinkles and imperfections on my face, bemoaning what she considered to be the beginning of the end of my wasted beauty. She cut my allowance, telling me I must learn to live on a pittance if I were determined to be a spinster. The final affront came one morning when she entered my room with a dressmakers tape. She wanted to measure my waist to see how quickly I was becoming old and fat. I could bear it no longer.

That same afternoon Philip called and asked me to do him the honor of becoming his wife. This came as a complete surprise; I had rarely conversed with him, though we saw each other frequently at social gatherings. Having no interest in hunting or in his superficial charm, I tended to avoid him. I did not realize that the hunter always prefers the quarry that is difficult to catch. He claimed to love me endlessly and said all the pretty words we expect to hear on such an occasion. They meant nothing to me. Living with him could not be worse than continued subjection to my mothers ranting. I accepted his proposal immediately.

The wedding took place as soon as my trousseau could be assembled. Six months later I found myself a widow. I had known my husband barely long enough for his name to stop sounding foreign on my lips. When I read the telegram, a feeling of relief and freedom swept through my body, causing me to tremble. The butler reached toward me, assuming I would faint. I never faint. Fainting is a result of affectation or too-tight stays; I will succumb to neither.

I felt no grief for the loss of Philip. I hardly knew him. As the astute reader will already have guessed, the hunter rarely has much interest in his quarry once it is caught, except as a trophy. After a brief wedding trip, my new husband returned to Africa, where he spent the months prior to his death hunting with his friends. We exchanged civil, impersonal letters. Then the prescribed period of mourning began. For twelve months I would have to wear nothing but black crepe and avoid nearly all social events. After that I would be allowed silk, but in dull grays and black stripes. Not until two years had passed would I be able to return to an ordinary existence.

Continues...


Excerpted from And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander Copyright © 2005 by Tasha Alexander.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 165 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(76)

4 Star

(57)

3 Star

(19)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(4)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 166 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A perfect book to disappear into

    In addition to being a chocoholic I am also - let's face it - a bookaholic. Purchasing Tasha Alexander's "And Only to Deceive" and Tracy Grant's "Secrets of a Lady" was completely and utterly compulsory. I admit it. I don't even have the decency to feel bad about it. When the books came in I went through a few agonizing moments, trying to decide which one to read first. As a true statistician, I resorted to a coin toss. Tasha won.

    Just to give you an idea: the evening I started reading the book came after two grueling weeks of constant fire-fighting at work (even the statistical nerds get job crises), a day of back-to-back meetings and an hour-long drive home (this was my one-per-week office day, but trust me - one is enough). My husband was watching something violent, with shooting, explosions and hostages - I didn't care... It's been a long time since I disappeared into a book like that, and I relished every moment of it.

    Tasha Alexander may not be the right author and Lady Emily Ashton - the right character for you. I can only wish that you find one that resonates as well with your personality as "And Only to Deceive" had resonated with mine.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Plot a little obvious but an enjoyable read anyway!

    The overall plot was good, but a little transparent...it became a little obvious who was supposed to be the villain fairly early on. Lady Emily herself was flat at times but became interesting as she discovered what it was that she wanted. I really liked the fact that she decided to do the detective work herself without relying on the men in her world. I do look forward to reading more of this series though.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2007

    Starts out strong, becomes illogical and unbelievable.

    I enjoy stories about the regency and victorian periods in England and this story had a very strong beginning, protraying a young widow who matured after her husband's death, and whose character and independent spirit came out strongly although somewhat unorthodox behavior for Victorian society. The unbelievable last 2/3 of the book was that after she had belatedly fallen in love with her deceased husband, discovering him to be a worthwhile person she had barely known, she then DOUBTS him based on unsubstantiated tales from his 'friends' and then BELIEVES any flimsy story that he might still be ALIVE. This is totally illogical with the first third of the book. In addition, her instant 'maturity' after only 6 months of marriage and widowhood, having lived her whole life with her parents is also somewhat unbelievable. Suddenly she knows her own mind extremely well, she moves in society she was barely introduced to, manages servants and a house, knows fashion, and she decides to live in Paris, where she is an instant social success. Just a little too much to swallow.......

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2011

    Interesting Plot, unlikeable characters

    Lady Emily isn't particularly likeable. She marries a man she doesn't love to escape her overbearing mother who knows exactly what everyone should do and knows she is alwasy right. And as the book develops the reader realizes that Lady Emily is...exactly like her mother. She knows best and her way is right. I am assuming the author is trying to convey that Lady Emily is a proto-feminist, but to me she comes across as unlikeable. The secondary characters are barely developed. If you want a good historical read I would suggest the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourne. The characters are all well-drawn, even the secondary characters and the plots are well developed.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    Really enjoyable read

    I really enjoy a book that is not your typical Romance. I enjoyed exploring the character and her journey in life.
    Also a wonderful depiction of the social rules during the time peroid.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Angieville: AND ONLY TO DECEIVE

    I must confess. I feel a little bad about my relationship with Lady Emily Ashton. I came across her adventures in the wake of Lady Julia Grey's escapades and I fear I won't be able to do Emily justice, that she will always be overshadowed by Julia. And, um, Brisbane. Do not mistake me. I like Colin Hargreaves very much. He is a delight and I hope Emily never throws him over. But he's not....well. He's not Brisbane. There. I've said it. We can move on. If you haven't guessed by now, AND ONLY TO DECEIVE is the first in Tasha Alexander's series of Victorian mysteries featuring Lady Emily Ashton. A series that has a fair bit in common with Deanna Raybourn's Julia Grey novels.

    Emily, like Julia, is made a young and rather sudden widow at the start of the story. The thing is, she never much cared for poor, dead Philip. He was simply a way of escaping her overbearing mother. To the cynical Emily, he represented the lesser of all the evils courting her. After his death, however, Emily is shocked to discover her husband was wildly, irrevocably in love with her and she had no idea. Through his journals, letters, and stories told by his closest friends, she comes to know and love her late husband. As she embarks on a study of ancient Greek language and sculpture (in memory of Philip who was something of an afficionado), Emily becomes involved in a ring of forgeries leading back to Philip and his friends. It seems she has a few more things left to learn about the man she married.

    The best thing about AND ONLY TO DECEIVE is the wonderful immersion in all things Greek. I was instantly taken back to my history of civ classes and what a wonderful experience I had reading THE ILIAD for the first time. Emily, too, had the good sense to prefer Hector to Achilles. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Emily fall in love with her husband and struggle with the fact of coming to know him secondhand and all too late. I loved the way she embraced the life of the scholar as a tribute to him and how she tried to move on despite the ever-constricting mourning requirements imposed on all sides. Unfortunately, her loyal love for her husband soon becomes a bit ridiculous as it is clear he is dead and was not, perhaps, the capital fellow his friends made him out to be. Emily also suffers a few TSTL moments with regards to the merits of her two suitors as well as her endeavors to unmask the villain. As a result, I grew a bit impatient on the whole. Not enough to deter me from the next installment, as I did enjoy many things about this light and charming mystery. Here's hoping things pick up a bit in the next one.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    PERIOD CHICK-LIT

    More than a novel of suspense, this debut novel is a period romance with bits of history and mystery. It's mildly entertaining. Just passable.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2007

    Goes from good to boring.

    Starts out good but slows to a snail's pace. It's hard to get behind characters that are such spoiled aristocrats with little depth. I wouldn't recommend wasting your time with this book when there's so many other better books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2006

    Upscale Version of an Old Standby

    Though well-written, this is basically a Regency romance, usually found in the paperback section of the library. A suspenseful twist makes it a bit more interesting. Otherwise all the genre's stock characters make their inevitable appearances: the beautiful and clever heroine, the pushy society mother, the loyal best friend, the unsavory suitor, and of course, the dashingly handsome gentleman in hot pursuit of the lady's charms. The heroine is lauded for her independence and intellectual pursuits. Blissfully ignored is how much easier this is when one has vast wealth, stately homes, endless leisure time, and platoons of servants at one's disposal. Comparing the author to Jane Austen as book-cover critics did is a bit premature. Though the author captures the cadences of the writing of the day, nowhere is there evidence of the complex depths of character Ms. Austin explored, nor the moody and haunting atmospherics. This is pretty much standard fare, and lots of fun if you enjoy descriptions of how the super-rich lived in 19th-century London and Paris.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2014

    Wonderful independent woman

    Great book.....looking forward to the rest of the series. Well written, love her independence and romance is lovely....add to that a mystery and all is well. Enjoy!

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  • Posted November 12, 2013

    The first "Lady Emily" book got me hooked!!!!!!!!!!

    The first "Lady Emily" book got me hooked!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    Loved it

    T.S. has become one of my favorite authors and Lady Emily is now a friend in my head

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2013

    Love it!!!!

    Very good!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Enjoyed this book so much I have now read 2, 3 and 4.

    Well written. History and culture and geography well coordinated

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Loved thisbook!

    I greatly enjoyed the evolution of Lady Emily from a conventional noblewoman to an independent person. I think it's quite true that a woman marrying very young and with no real experience of life can't love someone else because she doesn't know who she is yet. Lady Emily's story shows her maturation into a woman of charcter and determination. How sad

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Awful prose; unlikeable female lead

    I don't get the hype. Her writing is choppy, and reads like an uninspired, impatient junior high book report. The author just tells you, via the first person of Lady Emily, what her thoughts and feelings are, but with no dialogue or action to support them.
    The female lead, Lady Emily is cold hearted, selfish, rude and has no endearing qualities whatsoever to redeem her. She never has any insight into her own flaws to help us forgive her for them. The writer changes her thoughts and feelings erratically to fit the plot and storyline without any reason or consistency.
    The male lead is great, but I can't admire the guy for totally no known reason to love Lady Emily.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    Excellent period read.

    I loved this book. It had romance and mystery. I loved how Emily's character developed throughout the story. Story would be somewhat implausible set in modern times, but set in Victorian times it is a winner. The author really shows a gift for understanding Emily's place in her society. My new favorite author, must read the whole series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2011

    Recommend the series!

    I bought this book because one of the BN staff recommended #5 of the series. I always like to read a series from the beginning and am hooked on this series. Have already read books 1 and 2 and am reading #3 now.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful start to a great series

    I didn't really expect this book to get me hooked but surprise! Tasha Alexander (no relation) has a way of taking you back in time. The heroine, Lady Emily Ashton, is a young woman who has to endure all the challenges that Victorian era society has to offer. Murder is thrown in the mix. Lady Emily is a very spunky, curious and determined to live to the fullest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2011

    Good

    Enjoyed it a lot.

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