by Jess Michaels
Published on September 6, 2016 by The Passionate Pen
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
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Miss Celia Fitzgilbert’s grandfather has decreed she must marry a man with a title or he’ll never reveal her mysterious father’s identity. But her engagement to an Earl was already broken, leaving her steeped in scandal. She has all but given up until the reclusive Duke of Clairemont returns to Society and sweeps her off her feet, a potential solution to all her problems.
But things are not so simple for the duke. Aiden is not comfortable with his position in Society, perhaps because he is a fraud. In truth, Clairemont died months ago and the man playing him is a spy, bent on uncovering a dangerous secret. A flirtation with Celia, meant to help him fit in, quickly turns very real. But can Celia recover when the lies come out? Ad can Aiden keep them both alive long enough to even consider a future?
This book was provided by the publisher (via NetGalley) for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Celia Fitzgilbert is back in A Spring Deception, the second installment in the Seasons series. While the first book, An Affair in Winter, focused on her engagement and her sister, Rosalinde’s romance, this time around is for Celia and her happily ever after.
I’m glad I stopped after the first chapter and went to read the first book in the series, An Affair in Winter, because there was a lot of the character dynamic left unexplained in this one that starts with the first book. Though it states you can read them as standalones, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Much like the first book, we’re given almost instant chemistry between our leading lady and gentleman. Too instant. Yet they weren’t all over each other like Rosalinde and Gray were so I suppose there’s that going for them. And overall, the romance didn’t really do anything for me period. All lust, no spark, no fire for me to actually feel. This is a romance! I want those flames to be hot if you’re going to throw the characters together like Michaels does in A Spring Deception.
Celia was far less interesting than her sister, who challenged the status quo of women in that age while also remaining true to the era. Her younger sister, on the other hand, came off more as an airhead. I had no interest in rooting for her and Dane/Claremont to get together. He was more interesting but lost it all when he thought of nothing but Celia.
As for the semblance of a story, it was weak and never truly fulfilled. On the one hand, Dane is impersonating a duke to get evidence on a known criminal. That’s interesting! Let’s hear more about that! (It comes in at the beginning and end so at least it’s present somewhere.) Then there’s Celia’s quest to find her father. It plays a big role in the previous installment so I expected to find some sort of resolution to it here because, frankly, the author is out of sisters to write about for this series and I don’t see that particular subplot going far without them. Celia makes a big show of needing to figure out who he is but ends up forgetting about the search when she stops thinking with her head. I wanted to see that plot resolved because now it’s left hanging and I can’t see how the author can tie it up in another book at this point.
So that leaves an insta-love romance with a lackluster lady and an intriguing but dampened gentleman. Which leaves me, the reader, unsatisfied with this as a romance. In comparison to An Affair in Winter, I enjoyed the plot progression more and liked that the lusting was contained but as a whole I don’t think it averages any better than the first book. While these aren’t the worst romances I’ve read by any means, I wouldn’t consider them anything special either.