Saturday, 12 July 2014

Review: Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan

Title: Maid of Deception (Maids of Honor #2)
Author: Jennifer McGowan
Release date: August 26th 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Format: eARC
Pages: 418
Source: Edelweiss

Beatrice Knowles is a Maid of Honor, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s secret protectors. Known for her uncanny ability to manipulate men’s hearts, Beatrice has proven herself to be a valuable asset in the Queen’s court—or so she thinks. It has been three weeks since the Maids thwarted a plot to overthrow the Queen, and Beatrice is preparing to wed her betrothed, Lord Cavanaugh. However, her plans come to a crashing halt as rumors of a brewing Scottish rebellion spread among the court.

Beatrice’s new assignment is to infiltrate the visiting Scottish delegation using her subtle arts in persuasion. The mission seems simple enough, until the Queen pairs Beatrice with the worst of the lot—Alasdair MacLeod. Beatrice cannot help but think that the Queen is purposefully setting her up for failure. But Alasdair could be the key to unlocking the truth about the rebellion….and her own heart. Caught in a web of ever-more-twisting lies, Beatrice must rise up among the Maids of Honor and prove what she’s known all along: In a court filled with deception and danger, love may be the deadliest weapon of all.

I loved this one just as much as Maid of Secrets! Though I was initially apprehensive about it since Beatrice is my least favourite of the Maids of Honor, I found myself really liking her as the story progressed. And I'm definitely looking forward to seeing who we get next.

Maid of Deception follows Beatrice Knowles, the manipulative one. Hence the book title. She knows how to use her charms to get men to tell her anything, which is why her skills are so useful at court. Beatrice assumes these skills will no longer be necessary since she's getting married to Lord Cavanaugh, but when the queen interrupts the wedding for Beatrice's new assignment, she's livid. Especially when her assignment is Alasdair MacLeod. But as Beatrice spends more time with him, she learns more than she ever would have wanted about the Scottish rebellion and Alasdair's role in it. She also starts developing an affection for him that scares her a little, but what's life without a little danger?

At the beginning, Beatrice struck me as the same airhead-like girl from the previous book - she was just focused on her marriage and nothing else. Also, she clearly doesn't love Cavanaugh, but she likes the idea that he loves her and she'd agree to marry him because of it. I just didn't get her. But later on, we get to see her courageous side, and I also began to empathize with her situation. It's also admirable how much strength she has, though she never really shows it to anyone.

I loved getting to know the other maids as well, and especially seeing Meg and Rafe again. Meg's become pretty close to Jane, the slightly violent and totally badass girl in the group. I think that's awesome, since they're both very similar in a way. I really hope we get to read Jane's story soon - she's my favourite. This book has more focus on Sophia, the quiet Seer. She comes into her powers properly, so people at court have begun to take notice. I wonder how her abilities will develop, and what the consequences will be.

Alasdair is the love interest in this book, as you can tell from the synopsis. I was actually really surprised by this, since I remember him from Maid of Secrets, and he was a total brute of a guy whom Beatrice really despised. But he's different in this one, described as gorgeous even. I don't know how that came about, but I liked it. I liked him in this. He's not secretive about his feelings for Beatrice at all, and it was refreshing to see how straightforward he is. But there are things he's hiding, of course. And it's only a matter of time before the maid of deception finds them out.

The really interesting thing about the interactions in this novel is that Beatrice sees the queen in a completely different light than Meg did. Meg practically worshipped her. Beatrice, though, has a very strained relationship with her. They really don't like each other, and it shows. In fact, it was weird to see the queen showing such distaste for one of her maids. I don't know much about the actual history of this era - I watch Reign on the CW but I highly doubt it completely follows the true story. But it's clear that England, Scotland and France have a huge power struggle, and I'm interested to see how that pans out in this series.

The ending felt a bit rushed to me, and I was hoping for some more honest, deception-free interactions between Beatrice and Alasdair, but on the whole I really enjoyed reading this. Though I don't read too many historical YA novels, the ones I have read are fantastic. Maid of Deception is no exception. Beatrice's story was exciting to read, and I commend McGowan for another riveting installment in the series.

*Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

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