Book Review: A Novel Disguise

A Novel Disguise by Samantha Larsen

Synopsis:

When Miss Tiffany Woodall assumes the identity of her half-brother after his death, she realizes she isn’t the only one with a secret to hide in this historical series debut, perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Sherry Thomas.

1784 London. Miss Tiffany Woodall didn’t murder her half-brother, but she did bury him in the back garden so that she could keep her cottage. Now, the confirmed spinster has to pretend to be Uriah and fulfill his duties as the Duke of Beaufort’s librarian while searching Astwell Palace for Uriah’s missing diamond pin, the only thing of value they own. Her ruse is almost up when she is discovered by Mr. Samir Lathrop, the local bookseller, who tries to save her from drowning while she’s actually just washing up in a lake after burying her brother.

Her plan is going by the book, until the rector proposes marriage and she starts to develop feelings for Mr. Lathrop. But when her childhood friend, Tess, comes to visit, Tiffany quickly realizes her secret isn’t the only one hidden within these walls. The body of a servant is found, along with a collection of stolen items, and someone else grows mysteriously ill. Can Tiffany solve these mysteries without her own disguise being discovered? If not, she’ll lose her cottage and possibly her life.

My thoughts:

Poor Tiffany has no resources to call her own. She’s stuck living with her insufferable half-brother, Uriah, wholly dependent on him for food and housing. Then one morning he turns up dead. Now what is she going to do? With nowhere to live and nothing to live on, she decides her only choice is to impersonate him. She goes to work as librarian to the Duke of Beaufort, wearing her brother’s clothes and wig. But things only get more complicated as one of the servants is murdered. Perhaps Uriah’s death wasn’t natural after all. Does that mean Tiffany is next?

First the things I liked. I liked the setting – late 18th century in a big manor house with plenty of servants and the little village attached to it. I liked the characters and the love interest. The characters in general were well drawn and distinct. I really hated the vicar, which I was supposed to, and really liked Emily and Mary.

But I felt like Tiffany, while clearly driven by desperation, was not thinking things through. How long did she expect to impersonate her brother before getting caught?

I also liked the ending. The author’s note was more info about the justice system of the time and it was an eye-opener.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this one for free. My opinions are all my own.

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