Tuesday, October 19, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Unmasking Deception by Mary Lancaster

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

The second book in Pleasure Garden, Mary Lancaster’s new Regency Romance series, is Unmasking Deception, to be released this month. The book stands alone, but the first book, Unmasking the Hero, is a delight, so you may want to read that one first.

The current book is an entertaining romp. The hero, Lord Dominic Gorse, the youngest son of a marquess, is a ne’er-do-well going to ruin ever since his father refused to buy him a commission. He drinks, gambles, fools around, and hangs out with other low characters. Until one of his gambling companions is murdered after one of their drinking/card playing evenings, and half the man’s money and one of his expensive cuff buttons is found at Dominic’s door. He is arrested and, after a slapdash trial, sentenced to deportation. Fortunately for him, he manages to escape from Newgate prison.

Viola Dove is a clever, pretty, adventuresome, but poor young gentlewoman. The fate of her family is in her hands. She must marry for money. However, on a night out with friends (at the Pleasure Garden), she runs into a stranger, Dominic Gorse, who is fleeing from Bow Street Runners. She trusts him instinctively and helps him escape.

The two work together to hide him from the law while they solve the mystery of who actually killed Dominic’s gambling acquaintance. 

The hero and heroine are fine characters and the romance between them develops in a believable fashion. The adventure is lively and the side characters entertain. The villain is truly villainous.

Unfortunately, the villain resorts to kidnaping Viola. (This isn’t really a spoiler because the reader can see it coming from a mile away.) While I recognize that Regency Romances recycle plots and recombine elements into new stories all the time, the kidnaping-the-heroine thing is painfully overdone. Or maybe I somehow stumble on a disproportionate number of romances using that device to move the plot along. I managed to plod on past it because the rest of the novel was sweet and fun enough. However, I swear the next time a heroine is kidnaped by a villainous pseudo-suitor, I’m dropping the book at once, not even bothering to see if she requires rescuing by the hero or manages to escape on her own. Both have been done to death. 

Aside from that disappointment, I’ll continue to follow the series. Surely there won’t be another kidnaping in the Pleasure Garden series.

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