And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily Series #1)

And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily Series #1)

by Tasha Alexander


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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: 114,156
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

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

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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.


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.
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And Only to Deceive 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 197 reviews.
MysteryReaderAR More than 1 year ago
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.
BWormSM More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept my interest on every page. Defined characters, interesting story, and well written. Great start to a new series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.......
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
HeidiDenney on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Not enough tension for my taste. It was a great story which held my attention but there wasn't enough danger or stress to keep me anxious to turn the page.
annbury on LibraryThing 8 months ago
OK historical crime fiction set in late 19th century Britain, among the upper crust. I didn't find the heroine particularly taking, but the story held my interest long enough to get me through the book. Good stuff for addicts of historical crime novels.
NewsieQ on LibraryThing 8 months ago
And Only to Deceive is a suspense story set in the late Victorian era in England. Our heroine is Lady Emily, young widow of Philip, Viscount Ashton, adventurer and big-game hunter, who died just six months after their wedding. Given the constraints women ¿ especially unmarried women -- of the era had to endure, she is finding widowhood much to her liking. And the fact is she didn¿t know her husband well enough ¿ or long enough ¿ to truly be despondent without him.Lady Emily is just ending her two-year period of full mourning, during which ¿ based on conventions of the time ¿ she withdrew from society. Starting with a visit from Philip¿s best man Colin Hargreaves, she embarks upon a period of discovery, both about herself and Philip. What she discovers about her late husband is a bit puzzling, some of it even disturbing. And, although she never loved him in life, Lady Emily begins to miss and love the man she never knew. What she discovers about herself ¿ especially her enjoyment of the educational pursuits that her husband also enjoyed ¿ is just plain startling.Readers who want a ¿pure mystery,¿ one untainted by romance, may be disappointed in And Only to Deceive. I must admit, I used to avoid mysteries with any hint of romance. But I now find that historical suspense novels with romantic overtones ¿ especially when as well written and researched as And Only to Deceive ¿ can be a pleasant experience.And Only to Deceive is the first novel by author Tasha Alexander ¿ and it is a wonderful first endeavor, as polished and professional as any long-time author. I plan to read more by Tasha Alexander!
mikeysmom on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This debut novel seems to be an attempt to imitate the Lady Julia Gray novels of Deanna Raybourn. And Only to Deceive is to be the first of a series of Lady Emily Ashton novels. Both the Lady Julia Gray and the Lady Emily Ashton series combine the Victorian England genre (Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer) with a mystery, and both begin with a young widow as the main character. Unfortunately, Deanna Raybourn does it better. Alexander's novel lacked the witty dialogue typical of the genre. There was plenty of dialogue--perhaps too much, even--but it felt flat, stilted, and unconvincing. Lady Emily, who doesn't fall in love with her husband until nearly two years AFTER his death, seems more ridiculous than likeable. The many references to the Iliad felt pretentious. There is potential for this author to improve her craft, but for the time being, I'd stick with Raybourn.
lexxa83 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Loved this book. I wasn't sure how much I would like this series initially, since the Lady Julia Grey books by Diana Raybourne are among my favorite of all time. There are some striking similarities between the two, especially the timely death of the husbands, but I think that is a plot device necessary to create strong, independent women of means in a time when they would otherwise have little autonomy of their own. I am looking forward to the rest of this series as I am looking forward to the progression of the Lady Grey series.
wagner.sarah35 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A fun historical mystery with a few twists. Lady Emily, a young widow who barely knew her quickly deceased husband, discovers a passion for his antiquities hobby and uncovers an illegal scheme he was involved in. Lady Emily is an interesting character and she is surrounded a multitude of society characters, some of whom are villains and some simply amusing. I found this novel to be a fun read and a good historical mystery (although not my favorite), and I intend to continue reading this series.
ddelmoni on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I love historical mysteries. Victorian England is a particular favorite. I enjoyed this book but knew this was the author's first. The background story and characters were developed better than I expected but the "mystery" was lacking. I hope she builds on the Lady Emily British Museum aspects of the series.
kathy_h on LibraryThing 8 months ago
just 3 stars...have read similar books done better...nice period details and an engaging heroine but guess the mystery's not the thing with this series...i could see the 'bad guy' coming a mile away. i'm not ruling out reading another one by ms. alexander, however!
uncultured on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This Victorian mystery-thriller, the first in a series of (so far) three, is an above average tale. Lady Emily Ashton's husband has recently died, and she is compelled to deal with the fact that she has little to mourn for--she barely knew her husband, and accepted his proposal more as a matter of form (and to escape her overbearing mother) than love. This must have been a common occurrence in England of the time, though given the excess emotionalism of the day (smelling salts and lots of fainting were common) I doubt it was much noticed. Emily, however, begins to notice some unusual things about her husband's death. She begins to investigate, and finds that contrary to her own feelings, her husband was actually deeply in love with her. This situation alone raises the book above the average historical mystery. However, Lady Ashton has the misfortune to be one proto-feminist mystery solver among many: Deanna Raybourn's Silence in the Grave has many similarities with this book, and of course, it is tempting to compare this series, with a lead character fascinated with ancient Greece, to Elizabeth Peters' series about proto-feminist Amelia Peabody. Lady Ashton is much more believable than Amelia Peabody, though--Lady Ashton, at least, never spontaneously decides she is going to wear pants rather than skirts. ...Though she does decide that she will drink port with the gentlemen after dinner, rather than flit off to gossip with the women...
hollyem on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Good book.... interseting and held my attention. Quite a nice suprise!
jemerritt on LibraryThing 8 months ago
And Only to Deceive opens with Lady Emily Ashton receiving word her husband the Viscount Phillip Ashton has died in Africa while on a hunting expedition. The tragic news affects Emily little, for she feels more relief than sorrow for the husband she barely had time to get to know.It isn¿t until Emily is informed of her late husband¿s avid interest in Greek antiquities along with his hidden love and affection for her does Emily venture down the path of delving into the man Phillip truly was. The more she discovers about Phillip¿s character the more intrigued she becomes. Reading the Greek poet Homer, visiting the British Museum to view Greek antiquities and even the odd but touching meeting with Renoir in Paris sets Emily on an adventure of not only discovering who Phillip was, but who she is and not what society wishes her to be.When Emily becomes intimately acquainted with Phillip¿s closest friends and learns of some questionable transactions, her newfound affection for her dead husband begins to waver. Mysterious letters, forged Greek antiquities, black market purchases and the sense of being watched, all contrive to sway Emily¿s opinion that Phillip isn¿t the decent, honourable man she has discovered through his journals. And when some disturbing news surfaces, Emily decides it is time for some answers.For the reader, And Only to Deceive is more than a story of intrigue and mystery set in Victorian England. It is a book which encourages the reader to expand their mind with the pleasures of Greek literature or to explore the beauty of Praxiteles¿s sculptures.I thoroughly enjoyed And Only to Deceive. The characterization of Emily along with Madam Cécile du Lac and Margaret Seward were a refreshing delight and I recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a well written story with an avid mix of intellect.
nabhill on LibraryThing 8 months ago
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander, a Victorian mystery is neither the best nor the worst such that I¿ve read. I thought the mystery obvious and the tendency of the author to directly address the reader annoying. Unfortunately because I found the mystery obvious, reading how Lady Emily finally discovers the truth in the last one-third of the book was tedious. Despite the drawbacks, I did read the book with enough enjoyment to consider the second book in the series, particularly since the good review of the second book was the basis for reading the first.
FicusFan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was the first of the Lady Emily Ashton series set in Victorian London. I enjoyed it very much. Lady Emily was recently married when her husband Philip died on a safari in Africa.She didn't know him well, and while sad is not heartbroken at his death. He leaves her with money, social position and the freedom to live her own life. Widows are no longer so tightly chaperoned, and don't need a male relative to make their decisions.She mainly married to escape her harpy of a mother. Marriages in her class are arranged to secure position, fortune, and ensure the continuation of the line. Partners don't have to love each other, and often don't. Its a plus if they are compatible or even like each other.In exploring her freedom, she finds out more about Philip from his friends and journals and finds he was in love with her, and a decent, interesting man. She also takes up his interest in ancient Greek culture. While doing so she finds what seems to be evidence that he might have been involved in stolen antiquities.There are various characters who try to help her in her quest to educate herself, and some males who are trying to court her although she is still in mourning. Her mother is also plotting how to get Emily another marriage - though Emily is not interested.The mystery comes in trying to decide who is doing the stealing, and commissioning the copies that are used to replace the originals. The story of Emily is interspersed with journal entries of Philip from just before their marriage, until the day before his death. The more I read about Philip the sorrier I was that he was dead and a character who would not be part of future stories.The characters are well done, and the setting is interesting. There is a bit of a romance in the story, with hints that it will be part of future stories. The tone of the story is light and fun.Only one big mistake that I can see: Philip writes in his journal while in Africa of the camp being beset with Howler Monkeys. They are new world monkeys, and not in Africa.I have the next 2 in the series and will read them. I found out about the series because I saw book 4 being offered through LT ER.
runaway84 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A very enjoyable book. It was a refreshing book about the late Victorian era; not too stuffy. I did predict a bit of it, such as the bad guy and all that, but it took a bit of a twist I wasn't expecting. I do hope the character of Lady Ashton gets more likable for me in A Poisoned Season because she was frustrating me a bit in this book. I very much loved the character of Colin Hargreaves; I look forward to seeing more of him.
clue on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Emily marries the Viscount Ashton primarily to get away from her overbearing mother. When he dies in Africa shortly after their wedding she has reason to question that she knew the man at all. She sets about trying to unravel the mystery of his life and death endangering herself and displeasing pretty much everyone. A good read with a very likeable heroine.
Kasthu on LibraryThing 8 months ago
And Only to Deceive is the first Lady Emily Ashton novel; there are three out right now and a fourth, I believe, coming out in the fall. Emily, also known as ¿Kallista,¿ has been widowed for over a year, when she decides to study what her late husband was passionate about: Greek antiquities. She inadvertently stumbles into an investigation into what may have been murder.I admit I¿ve been spoiled by Deanna Raybourn¿s novels. Raybourn really knows how to create a great historical setting, intriguing characters, and a believable mystery. And Only to Deceive, I think, is a lighter version of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries. I noticed, though, that in several places, especially the proposal scenes, the author lifts lines directly from Jane Austen! I enjoyed the story¿it¿s fast-paced and fun¿but I think the author sometimes sacrificed historical accuracy for the mystery. Would a single woman, even a widow, have addressed a member of the opposite by his first name (even if he really was courting her)? Would a woman, even one as forward-thinking as Emily, have walked around at night, in public, in her nightgown? And that leads me to another point¿Emily¿s sensibilities were a little too modern at times.But as I said, the story moves at a brisk pace, and the mystery is an interesting one. A bit predictable, at the end, but good nonetheless. This is a good novel if you¿re in the mood for something not too brain-taxing. Still, I¿d recommend Deanna Raybourn¿s books over this one.
Alie on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I was quite surprised by this book. It was lent to me by a friend, and I started reading without expectations. I could not put the book down. I stayed up late each night just to read more and find out what would happen next. Full of mystery, love, and suspense this book is a hit. A real page turner.
thornton37814 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Lady Emily Ashton had only been married a short time when her husband died on an African safari. It is only after his death that she begins to discover the person that her husband was and becomes interested in anything that interested him. She becomes aware of art forgeries at the British museum and fears her husband had been involved in the deception. She must determine whether one or both of her husband's acquaintances were also involved.The story line was interesting; however, the plot at times became bogged down. While I enjoyed the mystery, it was not my favorite. It was a book that you could put down rather than one that held you captive.
jeffersonsambrosia on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book was the first I have read by Tasha Alexander, and I am impressed. I will be promptly seeing to adding more of her works to my TBR pile. She weaves an amazing story of a widow who is coming to terms with the loss of a husband she barely knew, with intrigue of what he possibly could have done. Lady Emily Ashton is a carefree character who was ever happy in a typical woman¿s role. Agreeing to marry her husband purely to get away from her Mother, when he dies only months into their marriage away in Africa she finds herself able to be more as she wishes to be. This does not agree with society.We meet a loveable bunch of characters in this novel, from Margaret the brash American socialite to Cecile, the eccentric French widow. The story unfolds in a plethora of twists and turns, and in the background there is just a hit of romance from the many suitors Emily finds at her door. Some are earnest and don¿t fully appear so, and some are not earnest at all. You will find yourself surprised at just how things all unfold and turn out to be sure. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and some mystery. And if you¿re a woman who likes to see ladies going against society¿s rules, well pull up a glass of port and enjoy some time with Lady Ashton.