Review: Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan

Review: Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowanMaid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan
Series: Maids of Honor #2
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR on August 26, 2014
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

Beatrice Knowles is a Maid of Honor, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s secret protectors. Known for her uncanny ability to manipulate men’s hearts, Beatrice has proven herself to be a valuable asset in the Queen’s court—or so she thinks. It has been three weeks since the Maids thwarted a plot to overthrow the Queen, and Beatrice is preparing to wed her betrothed, Lord Cavanaugh. However, her plans come to a crashing halt as rumors of a brewing Scottish rebellion spread among the court.

Beatrice’s new assignment is to infiltrate the visiting Scottish delegation using her subtle arts in persuasion. The mission seems simple enough, until the Queen pairs Beatrice with the worst of the lot—Alasdair MacLeod. Beatrice cannot help but think that the Queen is purposefully setting her up for failure. But Alasdair could be the key to unlocking the truth about the rebellion….and her own heart. Caught in a web of ever-more-twisting lies, Beatrice must rise up among the Maids of Honor and prove what she’s known all along: In a court filled with deception and danger, love may be the deadliest weapon of all.

Series like Maids of Honor are tricky to get right. With each book, McGowan focuses on a different maid, but the series also has its own overarching story that will need to be carried by each perspective. Embarking on Maid of Deception, I wasn’t sure what I would find, especially since Beatrice was the mean girl of the bunch in Maid of Secrets. She hadn’t been my favorite of the girls, and I was nervous that I wouldn’t like her perspective as much as Meg’s. Maid of Deception proved to be just as much fun as Maid of Secrets, and improved on the plotting and romance.

McGowan does a really wonderful job with Beatrice’s character. She gets an arc in Maid of Secrets, turning out to be more of a friend than Meg could have anticipated at the start. Even so, there’s a lot the reader didn’t know about her. Getting to be inside her head and know her motivations makes Beatrice a lot more sympathetic. However, McGowan doesn’t go too far and reveal her as a fluffy bunny underneath the court politics. Beatrice remains judgmental and calculating, and I’m glad that this part of her character wasn’t removed entirely.

One of the fun things about switching perspectives is the changing view of Queen Elizabeth. Meg felt a strong devotion to Queen Elizabeth, awed by a woman with the power to do whatever she wants. Beatrice is quite another story. In her head, she thinks of Elizabeth by such flattering monikers as “Her Avariciousness.” Beatrice has known Elizabeth since her youth and been privy to secrets from that time; Elizabeth resents her this knowledge but also trusts her because she never told. Their relationship is an interesting one built on mutual loathing but an odd sort of loyalty. McGowan shows more of Elizabeth’s petty, petulant side in Maid of Deception, and it will be so cool to see Elizabeth from the perspectives of the other maids as well.

The mystery in Maid of Secrets was entirely predictable but Maid of Deception took another path. There almost wasn’t a mystery, though many things were curious. This time it’s more the unraveling of court politics and maneuverings of marriages, which really fits with this being Beatrice’s book; she’s not the sort to solve murder mysteries. My favorite part plot-wise was the thing that came out of left field and the way that Beatrice was able to come to understand her family better. View Spoiler »

I was really looking forward to the romance in Maid of Deception, but I was a little worried since Beatrice was engaged to Cavanaugh. Thankfully, the queen throws a wrench into the works because she feels like Beatrice’s wedding is upstaging her birthday celebrations, which simply would not do. See what I mean about the queen showing her petty side?

With the wedding on hold, the road is clear for the hate to love ship of delightfulness that is Beatrice and Alasdair. Her courtly ways make her automatically detest the burly, bearded Scotsman, though she was a bit thrown for a loop by how handsome he looks shaved and dressed fashionably. What I really like is how they slowly became friends first sort of against her own will. Alasdair was very much playing the long game and went into the relationship very aware that Beatrice was lying. That’s something that’s been true of both romances so far: the guys may not know all but they’re aware their lady loves are unreliable and spying. It actually really lessens the drama because there doesn’t have to be that big fight at the reveal. Maid of Deception is a much shippier book, and I very much want to see this trend continue. However, I really hope that we’ll see how some of these ships resolve in the later books because it sort of seems like they’re being left dangling.

Historical romances are one of my favorite things, and this series is a treasure. They’re on the fluffier side with lots of strong women, and I am just so about all of this.

Favorite Quote:

“I’m not used to so much honesty. It can take a lot out of a man.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif i do not wish to possess you north and south

2 responses to “Review: Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan”

  1. I’ve wanted to read this series but those covers O.O The original one was even worse though if possible. I should really get on these since I’ve seen a lot of positive about the series. I love historical fiction and a fluffly one sounds right up my alley.
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Review of Sugar by Deirdre Riordan HallMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      They’re definitely fluffier historical fiction, so I very much recommend them, despite the Reign-style covers. They’re not that absurd inside, I promise.

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