Title: A Beautiful Disguise
Author: Roseanna M. White
Series: The Imposters, book 1
Major Themes: Mysteries, Spies
Synopsis: For years, Lady Marigold and her brother Yates have run an undercover agency to spy on other elite in their circles, but now they are tasked with proving whether or not an old family friend is a traitor.
I’ve loved Roseanna M. White’s books for years now, and when I saw that A Beautiful Disguise was coming out, I knew I wanted to read it! I expected a good story—and I got that. What I didn’t expect was the humor—I found myself laughing over and over again as I read! I can’t imagine this kind of story actually playing out in real life (it’s possible, yes; stranger things have happened, but it seems unlikely to me). But somehow, White was able to weave the aristocracy of England in the early 1900s with a brilliant pre-WWI mystery, and it made for a gripping, delightful read.
Lady Marigold Fairfax, and her brother Yates, have a problem they’ve been dealing with for the last five years. Their father loved a good show—circus acts, plays, you name it, he loved it. And they had an idyllic childhood, from that perspective—an endless parade of circus entertainments, and for friends, the artists and actors that made up that kind of world. But now, as adults, Marigold and Yates have to face the reality that their father spent the last of the family’s money on entertainment. They’re still viewed as wealthy members of society—and though it might be tempting to cut their losses and move on, they now have others relying on them. Their only option? Find a way to support themselves. Using the skills they learned as children, Marigold and Yates set up The Imposters, an undercover agency to spy on the elite around them and help their peers find the answers they need. But when they are hired to spy on Marigold’s best friend’s father as a potential traitor, will they be able to find out the truth before things really go awry?
I loved A Beautiful Disguise. I’m not a huge fan of women taking on men’s roles—I love it when women in books can be women, and I feel like while this book might be pushing the line a little bit, Marigold was still very much a lady…despite being an undercover spy. The history, too, was great—and I loved the brief mention of the Boxer Rebellion. It helped anchor this story, in my mind. And the humor. This book made me laugh so much! This was the 11th book I’ve read by White now, and I think it was the most humorous of the lot (coming in a close second with On Wings of Devotion, which also had some hilarious scenes). One example was a description of a lord chasing down escaped cassowary chicks…that’s not the kind of thing you normally expect a lord or lady to do, but it happened in this story!
If you enjoy mysteries, spies, secret passages, and families working together, you would probably enjoy this story. It’s lighthearted and fun, for the most part, and I can’t wait to get my hands on book two. I think it will be just as good as this first one was!
I was given a complimentary copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: Blast or a variant is used in ch. 2 (twice), 4 (twice), 7, 10 (twice), 12, 15, 16, 19, 22 (twice), 24 (twice), and 25; blazes is used in ch. 2, 7, 19, and 21; blighted is used in ch. 2, 4, 7, 18 (twice), 19, 21, and 22 (twice); heavens or some variant is used in ch. 2, 5, 9, 16, 22, 25, and 27; “be hanged” and “fire and brimstone” are used in ch. 4; “dash it” is used in ch. 4 and 9; swear or swore or some other variant is used in ch. 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 15, and 18; gracious is used in ch. 9; dratted is used in ch. 11, 14, 16, 20, and 22; and “leopard stripes” and “lionfeathers” are used as expressions occasionally. There is lying in ch. 3, 4, 12, 16, 19, 21, and 27. Drinking is mentioned in ch. 2. Gambling is mentioned in ch. 14. There are two vague references to someone who used drugs. Unmarried characters touch in ch. 7, 16, 23, and 27, and kiss in ch. 18, 19, and 26. Once or twice, there are mentions of characters admiring another character’s form. Several times, there are mentions of a man who was killed (not described). There is a mention of a man “who had been stepping out on his wife” in ch. 16. Someone’s life is threatened in ch. 20, someone is shot and someone else stabbed in ch. 25, and someone is attacked and shot in ch. 26. There is a mention of a man from history who committed suicide in the author’s note.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults