DECEPTION - Kris Kennedy
Sophia Darnly's father was one of the king's judges, and for misusing his authority, he was hanged. Ever since, rumors have spread about his ledger—a written reckoning of important and powerful names, the bribes they offered the judge, and the corruption they committed. The man she loved left five years ago and never returned, so Sophia moved to the small port community of Last Fells where she met Richard, also newly arrived. They married and started a silk importing business. After Richard's death, other men arrived. They asked her neighbors questions about Lady Silk, as she fashioned herself, and then burned her warehouse. Now, Sophia needs the ledger to save herself, and to make money to re-establish her business. She believes she is the only one who knows where the ledger is.
Kier's plan depends on the ledger. Five years ago he loved Sophia—before her father and his partner in crime, Cosimo Endolte, left Kier to burn alive in a building. Possession of the ledger will give Kier the means to gain revenge, a long-awaited, all-consuming goal. Cosimo is the driving force behind a 'commenda' of greedy merchants and power hungry co-conspirators. For Kier, Sophia's sudden appearance is convenient. She can now fulfill the role of Lady Mistral, a pivotal part of his plan to dupe his enemies.
Thus starts DECEPTION, a convoluted tale of power, dishonesty, crime, and the influence of love. The odds are as much against Kier getting his revenge as for Sophia staying alive, let alone saving her livelihood. Cosimo is a powerful merchant, and his contacts reach as far as King Edward's ear. Torment and lust fill the confrontation between Sophia and Kier while they deal deceit and trickery to hopefully defeat their enemies. Nothing is sure, and the reader's perception of the characters and the situation changes as more is learned. The reading is sometimes difficult as the tenor of the story is not contemporary, and the purposes of hero and heroine are sometimes doubtful, but this is an excellent historical story with a strong, sometimes explicit, romance. In the end it all depends on who controls the ledger and what they do