FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.
Series: Cotillion Ball #6
Publisher: Crimson Romance on September 29, 2014
Genre(s): Historical Romance (Adult)
In 1859, ladies of New York society were expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a smooth-running household, and have children.
Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s agenda is very different. As the author of the popular Harry Hawk dime novels, she must hide her true identity from her new publisher, who assumes the person behind the F. P. Elliott pen name is male. She must pose as his secretary in order to ensure the continuation of her series. And in the midst of all this subterfuge, her mother is insisting that she become a debutante this year.
Henry Cooper is not the typical Boston Brahmin. Nor is he a typical publisher. He’s entranced by Mr. Elliott’s secretary the moment they meet, and wonders how his traditional-thinking father will react when he brings a working class woman into the family. Because his intentions are to marry her, regardless.
Rosemary’s deception begins to unravel at the Cotillion ball, when Henry recognizes her. The secretarial mask must come off, now that he knows she is a member of New York society. But she can’t yet confess who she truly is until she knows if Henry will accept her as F. P. Elliott.
The more time they spend together, the closer they become. But when Rosemary reveals her true identity to him, will Henry be able to forgive her or has her deceit cost her the man she loves?
Rosemary Fitzpatrick has little interest in finding a husband. She’d much rather spend her time dreaming up stories for her dime novels than mingle with high society and play the role of potential wife. But when her publisher sells to a man from Boston, and the new owner insists on meeting all their authors, Rosemary has to put her vivid imagination to use and come up with a way to keep her pen name’s true female identity a secret. After all, high bred women aren’t supposed to be writing adventures set in the Wild West. And if her all to handsome new publisher discovers his best-selling author isn’t an old man, she’ll lose the dream career she’s been building for so long.
Rosemary is a breath of fresh air in a genre filled too often with women bending to the will of fathers and uncles and brothers and whatever other males see them as little more than property. She’s fiesty, imaginative, and outspoken, and her desire to fulfill her writing career dreams may be out of sync for her time, but it makes for a very interesting character.
Even more pleasantly surprising is the opinion of her family. While they are certainly more traditional, her father indulges her, and her mother seems to understand that writing means everything to Rosemary, even if she’s still scheming to marry off her daughter. Not only do they support her deception when she concocts a scheme to protect her identity and her contract, but they attempt to aid her in it. They are alternately forward-thinking and traditional, encouraging her to continue her writing, even as it goes against what society would have her do, but at the same time, they want to see her happy, married, and taking her rightful place as a wife among the elite. In that sense, they are incredibly realistic, much as many families today support their loved ones’ dreams, even if they would never choose those dreams for themselves.
Henry is a bit outside the norm as well, and while other men are vying for the attention of a few seemingly more popular debutantes, Henry is fascinated by “Phoebe,” the working class secretary as whom Rosemary masquerades. That he was so interested, even when he thought her to be below his station in society, makes his feelings for her all the more believable. And of course it doesn’t hurt that his looks and character in many ways resemble the traits Rosemary gives the hero of her stories.
The writing style is a bit more modern that a book actually written in the period when The Duplicitous Debutante takes place, but that only serves to make it an easier read than something littered with the excessive propriety and flourish language typical of that time. Likewise, Rosemary and Henry’s outlooks are more progressive than many of that era, but that’s what makes them so perfect for each other and appealing to the reader. Lower has mastered a fascinating style that transports the reader to that time and immerses us in the clothing, the traditions, the expectations. But at the same time, she does it in a way that doesn’t so much make you feel like you’ve just crash landed in another time, but rather that you belong there with her characters.
The Duplicitous Debutante is a quick, entertaining read that bridges history with modern romance appeal and introduces characters who are more than the society in which they exist, creating a fun, memorable romance that is as much an adventure as the dime novels Rosemary writes.