They say that the second book is the hardest for an author. After the first book was written in a glorious haze of discovery and novelty, the second book is where the author must now struggle with deadlines and the crushing doubt that maybe that first triumph was just all a fluke.
But for the reader, we look forward to our favorite debut author’s second book with eagerness. If their first book touched us deeply, as Sweet Enemy did for me, we rush out to get that second book the day it comes out. Or, as in this case, we are beyond thrilled when the author grants us a copy for review.
Sweet Deception is Heather Snow’s second book in the Veiled Seduction series published by NAL Signet Eclipse. It opens with Derick Aveline, the aristocrat we met in Sweet Enemy when he offered to court heroine Liliana out of convenience. There, Derick was simply a nice chap, and we did not learn of his past until the very end of the novel. Sweet Deception takes from those bits and pieces, and reveals that Derick Aveline, Viscount Scarsdale, is actually an English double agent working one last case before retirement. As a lover of anything spy-related, Derick has become one of my favorite romance heroes.
Forced to return home to Derbyshire, Derick meets with our heroine, the smart, sassy Emma Wallingford. While I fell in love with Liliana Claremont, the brilliant lady chemist in Sweet Enemy, Emma resonated more with me as a reader. Emma is a complex mix of pride and insecurity, of order and feeling. They say that readers want heroines who they would willingly be friends with—and for me, Emma would definitely be someone who I would take pleasure in knowing. It is Emma’s logic that drives most of the novel, as her knack for criminology greatly aides Derick in his quest to find a traitor.
The novel opens with a bang, as Derick and Emma meet again for the first time in twelve years. They spent their childhood together, with Emma following around Derick, the only true friend he ever had. It is this deep-seated connection and the memories of a time when Derick was not a jaded spy that ground this novel. I’m a sucker for the “friends turned lovers” paradigm, and Snow brings a level of complexity and poignancy to what might have been a standard novel . Both Emma and Derick are flawed individuals, but it is their flaws that make them perfect for each other. I flipped page after page, desperately rooting for them to overcome their differences and insecurities and reach their happily ever after.
Snow’s plot is tight, following that perfect one step forward two steps backs that we as authors try so hard to implement. I found myself reading and marveling not just at her crisp, compelling writer, but at the way she was able to string along tension. She effectively mixes the powerful, redeeming romance of Emma and Derick with the action and espionage elements to create a book that is impactful. I know that Sweet Deception will stick with me for a long time, just as Snow’s Sweet Enemy still remains one of my favorite novels (and one of the five I would save from a burning building, as referenced in my introduction post).
When Derick and Emma finally reach their hard-won happily ever after, it is both beautiful and emotionally charged. A sweet epilogue leaves readers with a wonderful, warm feeling. I can only hope that Derick and Emma will make an appearance in the last book of Snow’s series, Sweet Madness. That third book is on my most anticipated list for 2013, for it features Lady Penelope from Sweet Enemy. The chapter included in the back of Sweet Deception not only whetted my appetite, it made me lust for more.
Sweet Deception receives 5 out of 5 cups of tea, and a place on my bookshelf with my most cherished romances. You can order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or purchase it in major bookstores. I hope that you do, as I’m dying to discuss it with someone else.
Have you read either of Heather Snow’s novels? What did you think? Share your thoughts with me by commenting below.