Title: Deceived (anthology)
Author: Megan Derr
Cover Artist: n/a
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Fantasy m/m romance
Length: 225 pages
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: I thought that most stories in this anthology had a lovely fairy tale-like quality and were united by the common theme of letting go of mistaken impressions about other people and getting to know who the other person truly is.
Five stories of men and the secrets and lies that shape their lives…
Deceived—The hatred between Prince Benedict and his secretary Rae is well-known, and the source of much gossip at court. Each one too stubborn to walk away, determined to make the other one the first to break, they spend their days fighting or ruthlessly ignoring one another. Determined to put an end to the matter once and for all, and to give the notoriously rakish Benedict a taste of his own medicine, Rae sets upon a deception only to realize that there is more than one deception afoot…
Scandalous—Gideon has led a very strict life since the death of his parents, determined not to live the scandalous life that led to their untimely demise and to bring up his little brother in a more stable home. Journeying home to settle the matter of a new tutor for his brother, Gideon is waylaid overnight by foul weather at an inn. He encounters a beautiful young man who is more temptation than he is able to resist, and Gideon impulsively decides that one night, with a complete stranger, cannot possibly come to any harm…
From Afar—Pierce has all that anyone could want in life—an adoring brother who raised him when their parents died, the fame and adoration from being an accomplished fencer, and the best friend a man could have. What he wants, however, is to know the identity of the person who leaves him ardent love letters and why his admirer will not step forward…
Lessons—There is very little that Jude has not tried or seen, and his shameless behavior has earned him the reputation as the most notorious rake in the city. The one thing he does not do, however, is innocents. Then he chances upon a young man late at night in the park, amused to learn the man is attempting to write a love letter of all things. When he learns that Crispin despairs of ever catching the eye of his love because he is too innocent to be appealing, Jude impulsively offers to teach him all that he needs to know…
The Highwayman—When he receives word that his home is being plagued by a highwayman, Bartholomew immediately sets off for the family estate to see to the matter. When he arrives home, however, he learns that very little is as he remembers it. Instead of one problem to solve, Bartholomew finds himself contending with a highwayman, a murderer, strangers, and an old friend who is nothing like the boy he grew up with…
First and foremost please note, especially since I do not see the publisher mentioning this important information in their blurb on their website or Amazon, that four out of the five stories in this anthology were previously included in the self-published anthology Regency. I am not sure if it was ever published for Kindle, but I do have a paperback at home (I used to buy a lot of titles by this author) and four stories are there. And I know that I read The Highwayman prior to reading this anthology, that I am 100% sure of it (unfortunately I do not remember in which book it was previously published). I do not know whether or not the stories were re-edited for this publication, but I did not notice any major changes.
Having said this, I have to say that I think that new title suits this anthology much better than the previous one. The previous one invoked associations with well…the Regency period ( 🙂 ) and there is no Regency in this book. All that I can think of is that there is some sort of monarchy in this country (I am guessing that it is a country anyway as the world-building is pretty thin).
I was not particularly bothered by this thin world-building, though, when I read this anthology the first time around (which is quite rare for me) and I was not particularly bothered now. I read it for the bickering, or in other words, for another variation of the “from enemies to lovers” theme, which is pretty common in this writer’s works. And I don’t know if I would truly call the men in these stories enemies as they certainly don’t hate each other (even if sometimes they say they do); it is more like they are deceived by how their future other-half behaves, talks, and thinks, and based on this deceit, they initially form mistaken and quite hostile impressions of the other man. The circumstances in the stories force them to see the other person for who they truly are and change their impressions from unfavorable to very favorable.
I would not say that in any of those stories characters had a lot of depth, but for the length of each story it was good enough for me. I had a feeling that I was reading fairy tales with M/M twists actually, even though these are more of fantasy stories, but it felt like the main characters had to undergo their special quests in order to find their true love. I also thought the couples in the first four stories had the mostly easy going chemistry, even when they were fighting.
I think Deceived was my very favorite story in the anthology, and I felt Rae and Benedict were pretty hot together, even if there was no explicit sex in those stories (in fact it mostly fades to black and a few very inexplicit things are shown). This is my very favorite type of chemistry in M/M genre, actually. I am not saying that I only encountered it in the stories by this author, quite the contrary, but I love when I think that a couple is hot without ever seeing them in bed.
Conversely, I think The Highwayman was my least favorite, maybe because it felt less fairy tale-like and thus I felt that the story bit more than it could chew compared to the others and did not develop the main themes to my satisfaction? Also, Perry’s development just felt off to me and as a result, I did not care for him much. Lastly, I found action/adventure part to be just off as well in this story.