Misleading a Duke by A.S. Fenichel – ARC Book Review

Title: Misleading a Duke (The Wallflowers of West Lane #2)
Author: A.S. Fenichel
Genre: Historical Romance / Suspense
Publication Date: 29 September 2020

Betrothed to a man she has barely met, Lady Faith Landon calls upon her three best friends—the self-proclaimed Wallflowers of West Lane—to help uncover the secrets of her mysterious fiancé. Her suspicions are aroused when she learns that he has recently returned from France. Is he a traitor to his country? The truth is quite the opposite. Nicholas Ellsworth, Duke of Breckenridge, is a secret agent for the English Crown who has just completed a risky mission to infiltrate Napoleon’s spy network.

After his adventures, Nicholas craves the peace and quiet of the country and settling into domestic bliss with his bride. Until he discovers Faith’s deceptive investigation. How can he wed a woman who doesn’t trust him? But a powerful spark has ignited between Nicholas and Faith that could bring about a change of heart

Misleading a Duke was a surprisingly action-packed and suspenseful read. I couldn’t put this book down!

When requesting this I had been expecting a typical historical romance with the wallflower and arranged marriage tropes. That’s not what this was. Instead, strong themes of mystery, action and suspense were included. I’m not entirely sure what genre this story should go under as it’s quite unique. That said, the romantic aspect of the story was predominant throughout.

FINALLY a historical romance that actually has an INDEPENDENT woman. A truly independent woman who isn’t afraid of being a spinster – nay she welcomes it – and is quite content being the stronger emotional partner of the pair. It was refreshing. Lady Faith London was brilliantly strong, intelligent and confident. Yes she had her flaws and doubts but she remained true to her character throughout the entirety of the book.

Nicholas was an equally strong character however it was hard to connect with him at the start of the story. His anger toward Lady Faith London seemed unjustified (mainly because we had not been provided sufficient information regarding the back story – this was just presumed from having read the premise).

The relationship between Nicholas and Lady Faith was not always easy to follow. At times it was not clear whether they liked/hated each other. I’d just get a grasp on this, only to become completely lost again after their latest interaction. After the first half of the book this seemed to even out as they had a ‘suddenly-in-lust/like’ moment however due to their exceptional circumstances this seemed quite realistic.

While I enjoyed all of the unexpected facets and themes in this story, they caught me unaware. The light torture scenes should either be forewarned to the reader or the story’s premise should hint at the darker tones present in this book.

Otherwise, this was a surprisingly entertaining read. The connection between Faith and Nicholas was beautiful to read once they were forced together.

4 Stars.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – Book Review

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: YA Mystery
Publication Date: 2nd May 2019

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is one of a trend of young-adult mystery books making waves in the genre recently. Well, within the last year or two. From my reading perspective it seemed Karen McManus’ ‘One of Us is Lying’ paved the way to create an interest for readers unaccustomed to hyped mystery-themed novels in the young-adult genre.

With this in mind, Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was expected to be ‘just another YA mystery’. The cute cover, the hype and positive reviews had me swayed to add this to my TBR however. I read this in Buddy Read form with Willow from Willow Writes and Reads.

The story, set in a small town, follows the character Pippa as she explores the murder and mystery behind the death of Andie Bell by her assumed murderer, Sal Singh. Pippa’s curiosity, skepticism and tenacity (sometimes to a dangerous level) gave this story the spark it needed. What could have been an unadventurous tour through this small town’s history was instead written with a light amount of suspense and a deep thread of intrigue.

Pippa’s character development, seen through a loss of naïveté, explored the concept of ‘how well do you know the people closest to you?’. It was chilling to read at times – purely because it seemed steeped in reality. How much do we know about those we love?

Pippa befriending the younger brother of Andie’s supposed killer, Ravi Singh, was an unconventional twist that I hadn’t expected in this story. This happened early on, so it isn’t really a spoiler, but the change it made to the pace and nature of Pippa’s investigation was remarkable. Instead of merely investigating the circumstances behind Andie Bell’s death, Pippa decided to try and prove Sal’s innocence. A tall order in a town convinced he’s the murderer.

Jackson took something so simple – an easily explained tragic murder from the past – and heated it up to the point where I couldn’t put this book down. As we followed Pippa’s investigation, with inclusion of interviews and commentary, I found myself completely stumped as to predicting the ending of this book. With multiple red herrings and an abundance of suspects, Jackson managed to leave me in suspense until the very end. And even then – once I thought I had it figured out – double whammy. She surprised again.

Jackson’s exploration of small-town racism and the fatal impact that can have on others’ lives – such as Sal Singh’s suicide – was a prominent theme throughout. I’m glad this topic was covered as it highlighted the negative impact actions like these can have on others through no fault of their own, such as the scathing treatment toward the Singh’s after Sal’s death.

If you’re after a book that has all of the mystery of an adult novel, without some of the danger, then you’re in the right place. I read this in paperback format but think an audiobook version would be fantastic with all of the interviews involved. I’ll be continuing with the series in Good Girl, Bad Blood soon!

5 Stars