And Only To Deceive is the story of Lady Emily Ashton, her very short marriage to Lord Philip Ashton and what came after. Living in Victorian England, Emily is ruled by the demands of society and her very unpleasant mother. On a whim she accepts Philip’s proposal of marriage to escape her mother. Emily does not know the man she marries and while Philip is madly in love with her, she doesn’t even see it.
But the story only starts after Philip’s untimely death while on safari in Africa. Emily and Philip were married barely a year and we meet her for the first time a year into the two-year mourning that society requires. Even in mourning, Emily can not escape her detestable mother, who has decided that it is time once more for Emily to begin searching for a husband.
Fortunately for us, Emily has no such plans. She enjoys the freedoms that come with being a widow and the wealth that her husband left behind as well. Emily begins to take an interest in Ancient Greek culture, something that her late husband loved as well. But the deeper she delves into the antiquities at the British Museum and her husband’s own collection, she begins to realize that something is not quite right.
The first half of the book is Emily realizing what a wonderful man she married. She reads his journals and discovers how deeply he was in love with her; Emily in turn falls in love with her dead husband.
But while she realizes Philip was marvelous there are two new suitors in line. Andrew Palmer, who aids and abets Emily’s sometimes outrageous social behavior, and Colin Hargreaves, the more steadfast of the two though not at charming, both were friends of Philip’s. There are also a few comic social scenes between Emily and her lady friends in the first few chapters, but sadly those were not repeated.