An Heiress’s Guide to Deception and Desire by Manda Collins

An Heiress's Guide to Deception and Desire (A Lady's Guide, #2)Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Series: A Lady’s Guide #2
Publication Date: 11/16/21
Period: Victorian England – 1867
Number of Pages: 352

I smiled and sighed the entire way through this delightfully witty, romantic, and entertaining book. Our socially mismatched protagonists were secretly betrothed two years ago, but she called it off because she realized he was as snobbish as the rest of his family and her life would be miserable if she married him. Now, her good friend and his cousin have been kidnapped and they’ll have to work together to save them. Can they put aside their pasts and work together? Will their love be rekindled? Ooooh – you’ll just have to read it to see.

We first met Caro and Val in ‘A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem’, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting their story – and it was well worth the wait. I was instantly smitten with both characters and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them rekindle their love and work out their differences.

Miss Caroline Hardcastle is many things – a journalist, a writer of cookbooks, a fierce believer in class equality, a tiny pocket Venus, an excessively wealthy heiress, a loving (but put upon) daughter, a devotedly loyal friend, and very, very independent. When she learns one of her best friends, Effie Warrington, a very popular actress, has been kidnapped, Caro will do whatever it takes to find and rescue her. Caro knows Effie is betrothed to – and madly in love with – Francis Thorn. Caro also knows, thanks to the newspaper column she writes, the men in a woman’s life are the ones who usually cause her harm. Did Francis have something to do with Effie’s disappearance? When she arrives at Effie’s home to learn all of the details, she’s shocked at who is already there. Val is Francis’s cousin and he’s there to ‘save’ him. Caro and Val are hissing at each other from the moment Caro enters the room, so how can they begin to work together to save Effie – especially when Caro thinks Val’s only interest is protecting his cousin and the precious Thorn family name.

Valentine Thorn, newly minted Viscount Wrackham, has had a very hard time over the last two years. First, he lost the only woman he’s ever loved because he wasn’t man enough to stand up for her against his brother’s snobbish comments about her and her parents. Then, he lost his brother in a senseless accident. After a year of mourning for his beloved brother, his cousin has been attacked during the abduction of his betrothed. He knows Caro will immediately believe Francis is responsible for harming Effie – but Val knows Francis couldn’t have had anything to do with it and it is his job to protect him.

Though they are wary of each other, and Caro doesn’t trust Val, they have to find a way to work together if they are going to save Effie – and Francis. Val has learned a lot in the two years since Caro broke their betrothal and he’s learning he needs to stand up to his family – particularly his father. When their investigation causes Caro to be compromised, a marriage between them is the only way to save her reputation. Can Val stand up to his father and protect Caro from his class snobbishness? Can Caro learn to trust Val again? Can they trust each other enough to let themselves fully love each other again?

I can definitely recommend this highly entertaining and book. The romance is wonderful and there is even a lovely epilogue. You’ll love all of the characters – and – we spend some time with the protagonists in the next book – Miss Flora Deaver and the Duke of Langham. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until this time next year for their book. It will, I’m sure, be worth the wait.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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