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Monday, January 25, 2021

Review - City of Schemes

Elizabeth Miles is preparing for her wedding to Gideon Bates, when a menacing shadow from her past threatens to destroy the life she has built for herself.

Today I review the newest in the Counterfeit Lady historical mysteries.  Previously I reviewed the: 

1st in the series "City of Lies" (click here

2nd book "City of Secrets" (click here

3rd book "City of Scoundrels" (click here

Author: Victoria Thompson

Copyright: Jan 2021 (Berkley) 316 pgs

Series: 4th in Counterfeit Lady Mysteries

Sensuality: mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Mystery, Cozy Con Artist

Main Character: Elizabeth Miles, smart and cunning con-artist using her skills to help people.

Setting: 1918, New York City

Obtained Through: Publisher (NetGalley) for honest review

Book Blurb: "The Great War is over, and Elizabeth and Gideon are busily planning their wedding and welcoming home old friends now discharged from the army. One of them, Captain Logan Carstens, the son and heir of a wealthy family, seems less than happy to be home and with good reason.  While Logan was in France, he fell in love with a beautiful French woman named Noelle. He desperately wanted to propose, but he was already engaged and felt bound to honor his commitment.

When Logan receives a letter supposedly from Noelle begging for money to help her flee the terrible conditions in France and come to America, Elizabeth is suspicious. There is no way to verify the letter is actually from Noelle, and she fears that a con man or woman might be trying to take advantage of Logan in his vulnerable state. 

But that is not all Elizabeth has to worry about. Vicious thug Oscar Thornton has gotten wind of her wedding announcement and realizes the woman who conned him is still alive and well. Gideon and Elizabeth have to figure out a way to help their friend while making sure their worst enemy does not destroy their future. . . ."

Elizabeth Miles can't help but revert to a good con to fight injustice.  She is whip smart and resourceful and sees through subterfuge.  Mrs. Bates is an older lady who took Elizabeth under her wing and knows she isn't a legitimate society lady.  Gideon Bates, Mrs. Bates son and a lawyer, is Elizabeth's fiancĂ© and is learning to accept the law can't touch some people, but a con can.  Anna Vanderslice is a kind society girl who has become Elizabeth's best friend and is coming into her own. Mr. Miles, Elizabeth's con man father, is central to helping get Elizabeth safe from Thornton.  

Plot is three fold.  Elizabeth can see that Logan's fiancĂ©, Rosemary Westerly, is an opportunist who is the person who alerted the papers of Elizabeth's engagement - in the gossip column now less. Logan receives a letter from Noelle and he wants to bring her to America, even if he is duty bound to marry Rosemary as he promised.  He asks Gideon for help to bring her and Gideon suspects Logan is being conned.  

Elizabeth and her father end up running three cons 1) turn the tables on who is conning Logan for money, 2) con Rosemary (using her opportunistic scheming) into willingly breaking her engagement with Logan so he can marry the woman he loves, 3) con Oscar Thornton to stop him from ever coming after her again.  With so much going on, the pacing is steady and kept me turning the pages.   

The climax is primarily the Oscar Thornton's con conclusion, since it is the most serious for consequences.  This came together in a most dramatic scene that was pleasing.  The others conclude in gratifying ways as well.  

This has humor and high stakes.  If you like the idea of a 1918 version of Ocean's Eleven, then this is the book for you.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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Mystica said...

Thank you for the review. Putting it on my list.

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