This was a bit rough, but charming in its roughness. It’s my favorite of Sebastian’s Regency Imposters books. At the beginning of the book especially when the lovers are in the “enemies” phase of “enemies to lovers,” the banter and the narration both are very biting and witty, but in a gentle, non-threatening way for my emotions.
Amelia is our heroine, and I will admit it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize she was in both prior books in the series. She has retreated to the countryside to a life of solitude with her former governess. She has decided it is ultimately futile to try and participate in a society that doesn’t want her, at the expense of her identity. The mental and emotional toll trying to fit in was taking too high a toll. This is where our hero, Sydney, finds her. Through a series of tragic, flukish circumstances, he has found himself the owner of an estate, the ancestral lands of his friend, the Duke. It is to these lands that Amelia has fled, renting a cottage near the edge of the grounds. She has no idea he owns the land when they meet. And they have a truly delightful antagonism between them at first, which melts gradually into companionship, and then love.
The secondary characters are also quite lovely. There’s a blind duke, an illegitimate daughter, dogs, the aforementioned governess (who is asexual, though they didn’t have the words for it). Our hero and heroine are both bisexual. And the Duke is quite gay. I think this book pulls off LGBTQIA people living in Regency England in maybe a slightly more believable fashion than the first one did. I also liked that Sydney was a Quaker, and the way his family was used was something I haven’t seen in a romance before.
This book also fixed the complaints I had with the first two books in the series. I thought the first book skipped my favorite part of romance, which is the characters getting to know each other. I don’t think it’s fun to read about characters who just fall in love instantly (other people feel similarly to me, which is why “instalove” is a much-despised trope). Here, you see them get to know each other, and it’s great. My complaint with the second book is that it wasn’t long enough, developed enough. It felt like she just skipped from place to place in that book to get it over and done with. She skipped the fun transitions, the scenes of characters actually doing and experiencing things. This book was the longest book I’ve read from her in some time, and no transitions were skipped. We’re with them every step of the way that we should be.
Anyway, all this to say, A Delicate Deception was a fine closer to this series, but I really am very excited for her to finally continue the Seducing the Sedgwicks series, and the next book has an actual good cover! I almost fell over from shock when I saw it.