A HEART DECEIVED
Print Length: 390 pages
Miri Brayden teeters on a razor’s edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he’ll be committed to an asylum—and she’ll be sent to the poorhouse.
Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law … from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.
When Ethan shows up on Miri’s doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.
Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, Sr. Editor
Michelle Griep's books are gritty, suspenseful, and romantic. I fell in love with her time travel stories (Gallimore and Undercurrent), so I was eager to get my hands on whatever she wrote next! A Heart Deceived brings the reader completely into the past (no time traveling here!), but it doesn't lessen the stakes or lower the tension. With confused hearts and blurred lines between lunacy and normality, this is a story that is both gripping and challenging.
I appreciate how Griep causes the reader to look deeper at situations, along with the characters. There are some horrible facades and some more pleasant ones, but no matter the first impression, things are more complicated than they seem. Griep doesn't shy away from torturing her characters or having them experience the darker side of life, and that makes the hope all the brighter and the love all the stronger.
I really enjoyed getting to know both Ethan and Miri, although I confess I would have liked a little more time with the two of them together. (The romantic in me always begs for more!) I also confess to being a little uncertain regarding how I really feel about certain outcomes and the portraits of certain characters. It's an intriguing story involving some harsh and terrible situations that make the reader think.
I remain a huge fan of Griep's and can't wait to see what she writes next, whatever the genre! Although, if she has any other time travel books up her sleeves, I really wouldn't mind reading some more of those. ;)
*With thanks to David C Cook and NetGalley for providing me with a temporary e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
Reviewed by: Amber Stokes
And One More Bonus:
Michelle Griep has written about knights and Vikings in previous books. Both were fascinating time travel twisted romance novels. Her latest, A Heart Deceived, focuses in on just one time period, Georgian England. She paints a rich picture of social divisions and prepares the soil of story for characters who are struggling with more than just feelings and relationship issues.
Miri, her female lead character finds herself in a situation where she is a single woman at the mercy of her brother who seems to be slipping into insanity. He plans to wed her to the most repulsive man in the town because that man is willing to take Miri on. And willing to take any liberty he can when he manages to get Miri alone.
Ethan, a barely reformed opium addict, finds Jesus after being saved from the streets by John Newton. Ethan's friend, Will, is Miri's brother and after a tragedy, Ethan sets out to find her and break the news and hopefully find a safe haven away from the brutality of the streets.
Griep masterfully weaves a tale of intrigue and tension set within a darkly romantic era. Her characters are three dimensional and compelling. I found myself turning pages as quick as I could and reading just-one-chapter-more and okay-one-more late into the night.
I loved the mini history lessons lived out through the characters' lives and the ending was satisfying. I'm impressed with Griep's skills and strengths. A few scenes in the book will likely be too intense for the gentle reader. Griep peppers her word weaving with some spicy attraction scenes and some sense layering that includes visuals and olfactory details about the mean streets. There are characters who spend some time in a brothel, and obviously there is mention of drugs, addictions and side effects. In addition, there are some scenes that could be disturbing to self-diagnosed literary chickens. Consider the book a PG-13 rating. However, this is a great read for folks interested in English history, those who love a riveting story and rich characters. Need a plane or a beach read, this would be a perfect one. Cook, you continue to impress me with the novels you are publishing.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer