“It’s human to have a secret, but it’s just as human to reveal it sooner or later.” ― Philip Roth
B. Snow throws a bit of the unexpected into her novel A Cunning Plan, a welcome bit too, if I do say so myself, that elevated the book from the usual historical fare to something just a little different in the realms of Regency romance.
There’s a moral or two to the story of Alec, Lord of Whittlesey, the perpetually drunken heir, and the mysterious stranger, Morgan Villenie, who has insinuated himself into Lady Whittlesey’s good graces. Alec doesn’t trust the slick liar Villenie, and for good reason if first impressions mean a thing. Who can trust a trickster, after all, one that admits so readily to twisting the truth if it serves his own purposes? And though Alec wants nothing more than to keep Villenie far from his mother, Villenie has a plan to get Alec out of a world of trouble, a plan that it seems will be impossible to refuse.
Lady Whittlesey is the determined and outspoken matriarch of the family, who sees Morgan as a son as much as a friend, much to Alec’s chagrin. She is also determined to see Alec married and comfortably ensconced in the family way, also much to Alec’s chagrin. Because, you see, Alec is harboring a secret, one of a deep and distressing mental illness that has haunted him since he was a teen, one that he’s determined to keep control over or risk being consumed by it. If discovered, it would not only be his ruin but the ruin of his entire family.
Alec and Villenie’s association is nothing less than contentious from the start. At least on Alec’s part—there’s a moral to that animosity too. Of course there is. One often despises what one can’t have, doesn’t one? But like also attracts like, doesn’t it? So, there’s the dilemma for Alec. His madness has him tied up into a Gordian knot of denial and confusion. But, it’s also a madness that Villenie shares, which does absolutely nothing and everything to help Alec understand why he numbs himself to his true nature.
A Cunning Plan is a story of secrets and lies that leads to confessions and truths that leads to love and trust and the best possible outcome for Alec and Morgan after such a bumpy start. B. Snow delivers this romantic little fable that charms and engages in a seamless blend of its historical setting with the surprises that Morgan brings to Alec’s life. The fun of the story lies in the secrets that give a little twist to the staid social clime of the Napoleonic era.
If you like a historical romance with a few unexpected twists thrown in for good measure, give A Cunning Plan a read.