Set against the rich tropical beauty of a Caribbean island and the splendor of 17th-century England, “Deceived” promises another spellbinding tale of intrigue, suspense, and everlasting love written in Small’s steamy, inimitable fashion.
A veteran author of panting heavy-petters, Small (Darling Jasmine, etc.) tells a tale of two stepsisters with the same first name and very different attitudes toward men and sex during the reign of George III. Charlotte Aurora Kimberly and Charlotte Calandra Kimberly swap fates: when Aurora discovers that her late father arranged for her to be married on her 17th birthday to Valerian Hawkesworth, Duke of Farminster, she sends socially ambitious Calandra in her place. All seems well as young Calandra sails with her dashing groom from the Kimberlys’ plantation on St. Timothy for England. But when, months later, Aurora visits the motherland to choose a suitable mate of her own, it becomes apparent that something in the Hawkesworth marriage is amissand that Calandra has none of her virgin stepsister’s “ardent bent.” Aurora becomes engaged to Hawkesworth’s rival cousin, but the duke can’t hide his attraction to her. When an unwanted pregnancy conveniently claims Calandra’s life, Hawkesworth swears he will claim the woman who is his by destiny. The tale shuttles between the West Indies and the court of the young George III, but turgid sex, not well-rendered setting, remains its primary passion.