Title: Dance with Deception
Author: Tracy Goodwin
Series: Scandalous Secrets #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Received for Review from Audible
Summary (from Goodreads)
Haunted by his father’s sins, Sebastian Montgomery, ninth Duke of Davenport vows never to fall in love or marry until he encounters Gwendolyn MacAlistair and she consumes his thoughts. Sebastian wants her, and as he learned from his father, what a duke wants, a duke takes.
Gwen’s father has arranged for her to marry a man she despises, the very man who shattered her fragile family. As she struggles with a desperate choice – honor her dying father’s final request or alienate him by choosing her true love – Sebastian is forced to make his own desperate decision: trick Gwen Into marriage or lose her forever.
Sebastian and Gwen must confront the consequences of their actions and secrets so scandalous that they threaten to destroy all they hold dear.
In this dangerous dance with deception, who will die for love?
There was a promising set up in this novel – dutiful daughter won’t deny her dying father’s last wish for her to marry a man she despises. Charming, handsome Duke wants her for himself and concocts a plan to marry her by lying to her father about the state of her virtue. Can it truly be love if it starts with a lie?
Which would be a more difficult to answer question if Gwen’s betrothed hadn’t been quite so awful. If I was Gwen I would have been like ‘seriously, anyone, do something to get me out of this.’ But then, I wouldn’t have been refusing to go against my father’s wishes if following them was going to land me in such horrible circumstances.
Yes, I understand that there’s a cultural element to it. The time period in which the story is set would have been much more restrictive for women. But Gwen is set up from the start as someone who defies cultural norms. She hid outside her brother’s classroom to get an education, runs one of her family’s estates without her father knowing. She’s supposed to be smart, feisty and unlike all the other women she knows.
Only then she gets married and becomes a bit of a doormat.
The problem with this novel was that it had no consistency. Concepts and histories were introduced early on and completely forgotten about in later chapters. It’s suggested that Gwen and Sebastian knew each other as children, but this seems to be forgotten completely, along with Sebastian’s negative relationship with his father, which is raised then never mentioned again. The characters change completely when it suits the plot, and the things which keep Gwen and Sebastian from their happily ever after are terribly contrived.
Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have it’s good points. The period in history is reasonably well evoked, and there was some sexual tension and chemistry between the lead characters. As a bit of saucy fluff, it does just fine, but it fails to transcend the ‘alright’ mark and become a truly memorable romance because of the flaws in the characterisation.
Marvellously read by Susan Duerden. She manages to make even the more ridiculous sexual description (her dark triangle?) sound erotic. But overall, this is probably best kept for super fans of the historical romance genre. For readers who like to have a browse from time to time, like me, there are more satisfying reads out there.