Regency Charade Mystery

Deceiving the Duke of Kerrington by Ginny Hartman is based on the trusted plot of a charade where people resembling each other impersonate the other. As such the book is an amusing read; when the plot becomes too obvious, you still want to read on to see how on earth the author is going to get herself out of the pit she is digging for herself page after page, deeper and steeper.

After that build up, it will be no surprise when I tell you that she fails to get herself out of the pit; but she fails nobly, it almost works. In the end, that doesn't detract from the fact that the book was an amusing read. There are certain things you have to know so you can keep your expectations on eye level.

Lucas Ridgestone

Forget the word Regency; she doesn't know too much about it and is intelligent enough to stay generic so as not to mess it up. This helps the story go along smoothly and keeps it readable (much more than it would be with details that might be obviously wrong). There are a few minor hick-ups pulling the reader up short from time to time, but I blame the editor, not the writer.

In dialogue, the author's choice of speech pattern is modern, but not offensively so. But in some instances typically 21st century figures of speech slipped through the checks. The other annoying thing is the use of titles and names; she is so near to get it right, but then there are these total lapses that leave you guessing.

A duchess is never addressed as duchess, always as Your Grace, for instance. The same or similar principle applies to all other titles, obviously, as the title is never used to address a peer. The second irritating thing in this book is when titled friends talk to each other. They only address each other by title when they are mere acquaintances, otherwise they would have a different way of addressing each other.

Here, the pre-history of the persons involved has to be sorted and known at least to the author to get it right. If the two guys grew up together (cousins, neighbors) then they would use first names; if they met at boarding school, college, or university, they would use the family name with some exceptions. The same goes if they become friends in a club like White's.

The exceptions are to be found in the higher peerage. A duke's son usually has an honorary title, as might have an Earl's son. The (real life) Earl of Wessex' son has the honorary title Viscount Severn. If such an honorary title exists, then 'Severn' would be used instead of the family name (and no title with the Severn). Once the son succeeds his father, Wessex would replace Severn. If they become close friends at a later date, they might make each other fee of their first names.

Why am I making such a fuss about this? Because the author is all over the place in this book. At no given moment can the reader be sure if the friends of Kerrington's are friends or acquaintances that are just behaving as if they were friends. Irritating.

The story doesn't suffer as such, these little defects are just breaking the reading rhythm. As Ginny Hartman's Deceiving the Duke of Kerrington is available for free on Amazon for Kindle at the time when this review is published, it's a real bargain. Go get it and make up your own mind if you like it or not. the author has space for improvement and I hope she will; but then, the first book (Black Moth) of Georgette Heyer's wasn't a howler either.

Further reading
Regency Murder Mystery
Regency Twin Trouble
A Marquis, a Dog, and Cows in London's Parks