The Deception by Catherine Coulter
What the Back of the Book Has to Say:
The Deception first appeared in April 1983 as a Signet Regency with the title An Intimate Deception. I've completely rewritten the story so that it's now a full-bodied historical romance. It has a brand-new beginning and a brand-new ending, and I've improved everything in-between to make it richer, bolder, more fun, and more adventurous.
The Duke of Portsmouth offers an impecunious half-French relative a job as his young son's nanny. What he quickly discovers is that he wants her, badly. What he discovers far more slowly is that she isn't at all what she seems.
Evengeline de Beauchamps is in way over her head. She has far more to cope with than a nineteen-year-old virgin should ever have. To top it all off, she must play an experienced widow with a man who knows women as well as he knows his horses, or so he thinks.
You'll see Phillip and Sabrina Mercerault from The Offer and hear more about the famous cat races of southern England.
Write me and let me know what you think of The Deception.
Why I Picked It Up:
The Countess had been so deliciously ridiculous, I was so excited for a new one.
What I Think:
You all remember (or I hope you remember) the wonder and beauty of B-movie-esque novels that was The Countess. When I was wandering the library shelves and landed upon yet another Catherine Coulter book, with the same ridiculously dramatic cover and strange letter to the reader as a back cover, I might just have let out a tiny squeal of glee. It was like spring break had come early. I was pumped.
Did you read the back of the novel? "She has far more to cope with than a nineteen-year-old virgin should ever have"? "[You'll] hear more about the famous cat races of southern England"? This book promised nothing but amazingness. I can't even get across to you how excited I was about this.
The beginning of the novel was just as deliciously strange as it's predecessor. We found young Evengeline being attacked by some strange force in her apartments in France. Someone, a little unclear who, had kidnapped her father and was forcing her to act as an agent of some evil government. Of course, later it becomes pretty clear that she's working for rebel supporters of the deposed Napoleon. I guess, looking back, that's probably the only feasible evil agency to have attacked her but it begins in such a flurry of activity that you're more confused than scared for her.
She ends up at the home of a distant relative (by marriage) in order to plead to let her stay with him. Of course, this is all under the secrecy so that she can usher French agents (and British traitors) into England at the nearby cove. The Duke of Portsmouth, meanwhile, is curious about this lady that has showed up and appoints her as governess of his son.
Obviously, these two fall madly in love while she feels guilty about the deception (get it?!) that she's purporting as a French agent. The duke is somehow mixed up in Napoleon's defeat in England, not to mention one of his good friends has recently been murdered in the war effort so there's just a whole bunch of nonsense going on.
The most disappointing thing about this novel is that it is somehow not as ridiculous as The Countess. Sure, the plot is pretty dismal and there are some good scenes where Evangeline is trying to convince the duke that she's a widow with stories about her amazing deceased husband (that never was) but mostly, the plot follows a straight-foward angle and there's just not that sense of whimsy that came out of Coulter's early novel. I missed her rambles and unrelated anecdotes. I wanted some awkwardly placed comedy or overly dramatic declarations. It was all missing from this semi-serious romance.
We never even heard about the cat races! Don't tease me about cat races and don't deliver, Coulter!
Now, I'm not saying this book was good or anything. It was entertaining as the next romance novel. It's just that what had set The Countess apart was that it was just so silly and this novel just couldn't be anything other than another, typical romance novel.