Becky Lower's The Duplicitous Debutante is an enjoyable historical romance, with a writer heroine and a forward-thinking (for the time period) hero. Lower has an exceptional voice for historical romance, layering in colorful historical details that truly allowed me to be transported to 19th century America.
My only frustration with the story was that the entire plot hinged, as the title suggests, on the duplicitous act of the heroine, Rosemary Fitzpatrick, who lies about her identity as dime novel author F.P. Elliott in order to maintain her writing career. The misunderstanding that ensues between Rosemary, and the hero, Henry Cooper, the new owner of the company that publishes her books, provides the bulk of the tension for the story. Conflicts that hinge on misunderstanding or duplicity tend to frustrate me, as they are seemingly so easily resolved. However, Lower's heroine is easy to like, particularly with regard to her love for and relationship with her large family, and overall I truly enjoyed the story.
The hero is especially lovable. His progressive thinking about business and his conflicts with his father make him easy to relate to. And his attraction to Rosemary grows, despite its complications.
Best all, Lower includes excerpts from Rosemary's Wild West dime novels at the start of almost every chapter. These are fun and add color and vibrancy to the novel.
Rosemary Fitzpatrick loves her writing career and will do almost anything to maintain it, including posing as secretary to F.P. Elliott, her writing pen name. She does this for fear the new owner of her publishing house, Henry Cooper, may not look fondly on a young woman writing dime novels. When she meets Henry, however, she finds that her attraction to him complicates everything.
In 1859, ladies of New York society are expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a household, and have children. But despite her mother’s best intentions, making her debut is the last thing on Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s mind.
Writing the popular Harry Hawk dime novels as F.P. Elliott, she’s too busy hiding her female identity from her new publisher, Henry Cooper. To protect her clandestine career, she ends up posing as the enigmatic author’s secretary.
Henry is not the typical Boston Brahmin, nor the typical publisher, and Rosemary entrances him from the moment they meet. As they work together and grow closer, he wonders how his traditional-minded father will react when he brings her into the family, because Henry firmly intends to marry the working-class woman.
But when her deception begins to unravel at the cotillion ball, will Henry be able to forgive her or has deceit cost her the man she loves?
Sensuality Level: Sensual