Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Genre: YA, Historical Ficiton

Publisher: Swoon Reads on April 11, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

In which a lady and a law clerk find themselves entangled in the scandal of the season…View Spoiler »


Charming and sweet, Cindy Anstey’s DUELS AND DECEPTIONS is an outrageously clever YA historical fiction that’s perfect for fans of slow burn romance and whip-smart dialogue. I liked it so much that the second I finished reading, I grabbed a copy of Anstey’s first book; she’s an auto-buy author for me now!

Miss Lydia Whitfield is an heiress unlike most her age: she cares more for the productivity of her estate and its crops than she does for Society or the marriage market. In fact, the unsentimental girl has willingly agreed to marry a man that even she admits is a buffoon to ensure her family’s position and on-going security. Even if a certain handsome law clerk, one Mr. Robert Newton, is driving her to distraction whilst drawing up the marriage papers. Doesn’t he realize she’s trying to be noble and self-sacrificing? But soon Lydia finds that try as she might, she can’t control everything around her…least of all her heart.

Everything about DUELS AND DECEPTIONS is delightful, and I found myself smiling the entire time I was reading the book – which was in one sitting, something I rarely do these days. I was particularly impressed by Anstey’s ability to breathe new life into standard romance tropes, such as the classic “kidnapped and forced to spend time together in close proximity.” All my romance readers out there know exactly what I’m talking about. There’s mischief and plotting aplenty in this one, with someone plotting to ruin the Whitfield family name – and Lydia’s reputation – in one fell swoop. Who’s behind it all? Is it Lydia’s horrible uncle? Is it her jealous cousin? Is it someone altogether different? The only way to figure it out is if Robert and Lydia spend more time together sleuthing, obviously. The two of them trying to come up with excuses to call upon one another was absolutely adorable.

Romance isn’t the only charming thing about DUELS AND DECEPTIONS, though: there’s also great representation of female friendships and family relationships aplenty. One of my favourite scenes in the book is one in which Lydia and her two best friends save their best gossip and chatter until their male companion zones out and falls asleep. So funny! The many Whitfield family dinner scenes were also well done, bringing to life the atmosphere of a strained, uncomfortable meal that somehow has a strong sense of camaraderie throughout it all. I also loved the relationship between Lydia and her mom, who starts as a Mrs. Bennet-like character riddled with “nerves” but becomes more complex throughout the novel.

Anstey has an eye for detail, bringing historical accuracy to everything from a dinner party with unexpected guests to taking in the waters in Bath during the rainy season. A lot of research clearly went into writing DUELS AND DECEPTION, and I appreciated that social graces, fashion, and even (im)proper duelling laws were all observed. Aside from a few moments where character’s quips felt just a hair too modern, there weren’t any inaccuracies or anachronisms that I could spot. And those moments were so funny that I forgave them almost instantly. Fair play to you, Cindy Anstey!

Whether you’re a diehard fan of historical romance or you’re looking to try something new and freshen up your genre mix, DUELS AND DECEPTIONS is a charming read that’s guaranteed to leave you smiling.

Are you a fan of historical novels, romantic or otherwise? What’s your favourite classic Regency Era story? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I like clever, I like whip smart dialog, I am not a huge fan of romance but I am not immediately repelled by it.

    This looks like a good grab from the library type of read.

    1. “Not immediately repelled by it” is better odds than some readers, that’s for sure! If you’re looking for a funny, lighter version of Jane Austen then this is definitely a good library book.

  2. I’m definitely getting a Jane Austen vibe from your review, which makes me happy! Sounds like a book I’d love, thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, definitely! I didn’t want to compare the book directly to Jane Austen because I honestly feel like I mention her in every review I write for a Regency novel, hahaha. But if you love Austen, you’ll love this! 🙂

    • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    • 6 years ago

    While I prefer to stay within the boundaries of speculative fiction, sometimes it’s good – and recommended – to push the envelope and try something else, and this sounds like the perfect, delightful book to step outside and…breathe some differently-smelling air 🙂
    This goes straight to my “next” list, and thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Normally I stick to my two favourite genres very closely: fantasy and romance. But when I feel burned out, nothing works for me better than YA historical fiction. I’m not sure what it is…probably the cleverness and fun that this one has. I hope this works as a good breath of fresh air for you, Maddalena! 😀

  3. I’m SO EXCITED for this one – I grew to love Historical Fiction in the past year or so, and some of the best ones were fun, light-hearted novels just like this one sounds. Also, that cover is freaking pretty, I love it. Great review! 🙂

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    1. If you’ve been loving historical fiction lately, then you definitely need to get your hands on this one Veronika! Cindy Anstey is a really clever, talented writer who puts a hilarious and heart-warming spin on things. Isn’t it though? She just had the cover revealed for her next book, Suitors and Sabotage and it’s also gorgeous!

  4. > and even (im)proper duelling laws were all observed.

    Do they do the thing with the glove slapping??? That’s my favourite duelling tradition by far.

    1. I can neither confirm nor deny that this one has the thing with the glove slapping, but I *will* say that there are some pretty hilarious quips and insults exchanged during the process!

  5. Oh my, breathing new life into old tropes? Definitely one to watch! Great review!

    1. Cindy Anstey is certainly one to watch! Fingers crossed that I love her first book, Love, Lies, and Spies, just as much as I loved this one. Thanks, Verushka!

    • Greg Hill

    • 5 years ago

    I love that cover! This sounds at least somewhat similar to School for Unusual Girls, which I’m a fan of, so I can see trying this. And the whole trying to find reasons to call on each other- that sounds fun. 🙂

    I like too that it sounds mostly accurate. I do like a good Regency or Victorian era novel from time to time.

    1. Anstey has had some damn fine cover art so far! Okay, I’ve heard SO many good things about School for Unusual Girls and it’s been sitting on my shelves for ages. Are you saying that I need to read it ASAP? Because you know I trust you and I will if you say so. 😉

      There’s something about Regency and Victorian Era settings that just works for me so well, especially if there’s a tiny bit of magic involved. While there wasn’t any in this one, I still adored it!

        • Greg Hill

        • 5 years ago

        Yes I think you should. 🙂 School for Unusual Girls is a lot of fun (I loved Georgie) and each book has a different POV- there are five girls. And I think it works. I hope you read it (and if you don’t like it- sorry lol). I’m always afraid I’ll recommend something and they’ll hate it!

        Unusual Girls is largely devoid of magic too, although there are HINTS of it here and there- at least two of the girls seem to have paranormal abilities. I liked that aspect. And I agree- Victorian or Regency plus magic = the bomb.

        1. Oooh well I guess I’m going to be reading it soon then. Hahaha no worries: if I don’t like it, I know where you blog. 😉

          Magic plus 1800s = guaranteed win, in my experience. Long live historical fantasy!

  6. Yay! I’m so glad to see you enjoyed this! I’ve really been meaning to check out Cindy Anstey. I love that it’s clever, with great dialogue and a slow burning romance! This definitely sounds right up my alley! Awesome review, Danya!

    1. It was absolutely adorable, Cyn! I was making Good Book Noises and smiling like a maniac the entire time I was reading. I think you’d love it, based on your love of historical romances and cute YA. This has all the best elements of both! Thank you! 🙂

  7. Danya, why do you do this to my TBR? I just added it to my Amazon wishlist, so I’ll buy it later this week.
    I love a good historical, especially one with the heroine defying the standards of women in her time period. Robert & Lydia sound adorable and I need to meet them and their sluething selves! I’m all in for the friendships and the family relationships too. Sounds perfect for me!

    1. Who, me? *innocent face*

      I really think you’re going to love this one, Nick. It has all the best parts of a historical romance and a fluffy YA without any of the annoying parts (no weird drama, no miscommunication, and very little angst). I am DYING to get my hands on Anstey’s other book now!

  8. Wow, this does sound terribly good! I’m a huge fan of regency type stories but I haven’t read any in what seems like forever!

    1. I loved it so much, Bonnie! I feel like a hardcore Cindy Anstey fan after only one book, haha. Regency Era stories are some of my absolute favourites, but it’s been a while since I enjoyed one as much as this one!

  9. How fun! This sounds adorable and completely up my alley. Thanks for putting this on my radar! I’m going to see if our library has a copy. 🙂

    1. It’s absolutely the perfect read when you want something cute and fun! Fingers crossed that your library has a copy, Dena. 🙂

    • Lynn Williams

    • 5 years ago

    This also sounds great – you’re having a good run of books! I think I would probably like this one as well.
    Lynn 😀

    1. It was awesome! I know, it’s making me nervous…I feel like a stinker is right around the corner with this hot streak I’ve been on.

    • Sam Kozbial

    • 5 years ago

    Yes! Another positive review. I am about 47% into this book right now, and I am loving it. I adore LydiaAndRobert. Great review!
    Sam @ WLABB

    1. Eeee! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it once you’re finished, Sam. Lydia and Robert were the cutest couple I’ve read about in ages, and so low-drama too!

  10. I’m so glad you loved this one Danya! Great review!!!😊 I have been hearing all wonderful things about this book, and Alyssa loved it too so I am really excited! I hate it when there is girl on girl hate in book, so it’s awesome that there’s a female friendship😎

    1. Thanks Prabhleen, it was super cute and clever. OMG Alyssa is the best person for recommending YA historicals, she put this one on my radar too actually! Bleh, girl hate needs to die a fiery death in 2017. #downwithgirlhate

  11. So glad to see you liked this. I have both this on my to buy list and Anstey’s first book on my TBR so I know that’s getting shifted up with my reading. Now i really want to buy this now but I can wait, it looks awesome, though. Just, I would have read for the romance aspect but the fact friendship is written well. Yay female friendship.

  12. I haven’t heard about this book
    before. While I’m not a big fan of Historical Romance, this story sounds so lovely
    and adorable. I love slow burn romance and banter; and while “kidnapped and
    forced to spend time together in close proximity” trope maybe overused in
    romance genre, I enjoy it nevertheless. Add to this female friendship and
    family relationships and I’m sold. Thanks for bringing it to my attention,

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