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True Pretenses

(Lively St. Lemeston #2)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  927 ratings  ·  201 reviews
Something borrowed...

Through wit and sheer force of will, Ash Cohen raised himself and his younger brother Rafe out of the London slums and made them (in his unbiased opinion) the best confidence men in England. Ash is heartbroken when Rafe decides he wants an honest life, but he vows to give his beloved brother what he wants.

When Ash hears of a small-town heiress scra
Kindle Edition, 298 pages
Published March 18th 2017 (first published January 13th 2015)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why isn't this author more popular?
I'm pretty sure I've said this before but if you like Courtney Milan, then you should read Rose Lerner's books. Milan leans better on the focus of the romance between the main couple and Lerner leans better on overreaching story but they are both top contributors in historical romance, in my humble opinion.

I swear the next time I read a Lerner book, I'm buying an extra copy for a friend so I can call them up every time I come across a line and theme that hits
K.J. Charles
Loved this. Jewish con man meets Tory heiress, discovering his innate decency and her innate indecency along the way. Lovely historical detail of small town politics, so much more grounded than all the damn dukes. Also, I love the fact that neither MC wants children and there is no sense they're going to change their minds. They just don't want kids, and that's fine.

They have to make compromises, quite grim ones. Ash has to live as a Christian. Lydia can never really be completely honest with f
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hawt-sex
Words fail me. Luckily they have not failed Ms Lerner. She's phenomenally talented.

There's the most amazing description of an orgasm in this book:

"Lydia spent, clinging to him as pleasure shook her out, ripped her apart at the seams, and pieced her back together with all her brightest, best parts facing out." (Loc 3542 of 4799

This is not unlike how the whole book made me feel. Such a tumult of emotions, with incredible tension, tearing me apart, only to find myself all pieced back together at t
I gave this an A at AAR

Rose Lerner has been an autobuy author for me ever since I read her début novel, In For a Penny. While she sets her stories in the Regency era, she tends to move away from the glittering ballrooms of the ton and puts a different spin on them, whether it be, as in Penny, looking at a young couple trying to make a marriage of convenience work amid the problems they encounter in trying to put a run-down estate back on its feet, or, as in Sweet Disorder, setting a cross-class
Skye Kilaen
A slow-burn Regency era small-town British romance between Lydia Reeve, a spinster heiress struggling to maintain her recently passed father's legacy of politicking, and Asher Cohen, a Jewish con man who grew up in poverty and passes as Christian to avoid prejudice. (Notable: both MCs do not want children, and this does not change - rare to find in romance!)

It's so detailed and multi-layered, the writing is lush, the main and secondary characters are complex, and Lerner does an amazing job showi
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Lerner’s intelligent thought-provoking writing is a perfect antidote for these who dismiss all romance writing as lightly entertaining feel-good fluff.
This is my second book by the author after Sweet Disorder and, so far, my favorite.

The second installment of Lively St. Lemeston series returns to the early nineteenth century small West Sussex town of Lively St. Lemeston. Despite its provincial setting, you know right away, the story would be quite unordinary based on the characters alone:
Aug 23, 2021 rated it liked it
3.3 stars

“He’d known from the start that he’d be in love with her before their time was up. He’d known it would break his heart to leave her. He hadn’t thought much of it; his heart had been broken before, and mended. But something new occurred to him now. If he played his cards right, maybe he could have this to come back to.”

This is not your typical historical romance. A slow burn, it offers indepth psychological portraits of our main characters, Lydia and Ash, and how they feel about eac
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an interesting story! Ash, the hero, was an unrepentant Jew swindler, Lydia, the heroine, was a 30-year-old spinster who knew her own mind and wasn't afraid of going after what she wanted, and the secondary characters - especially his brother Rafe and her brother Jamie - had multi-dimensional personalities that added conflict and tension to the story.

If you're looking for out-of-ordinary characters in the historical romance genre, look no further. This is it.
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh man oh man. This has to be coherent, right? And make sense and everything? Okay, I'll try.


Okay, so now that's out of the way: this book was SO, so great. Read it now. Please.

This is the second book in Rose Lerner's "Lively St. Lemeston" series, and just as great as the first one. A friend of mine kept telling me to read since, like, January, and finally, I listened and I am SO SO glad. This book is on the other side of the poli
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I loved Sweet Disorder, the first book set in the town of Lively St. Lemeston and steeped in small town politics. I think I like True Pretenses even more. Ash Cohen has survived on the streets and raised his brother from infancy by thieving, bodysnatching and eventually swindling people out of their money. Ash and his brother Rafe have become masters at charming their way into people’s lives, and hurrying away with their money. Ash was born to a whore, and left on his own at an early age. He lov ...more
Oh joy! oh rapture unforeseen! - full review to follow once I've re-read it to wring the last drops of pure pleasure from it.
Update 21 Nov 2020, just reread and can confirm: this book absolutely slaps.

Georgette Heyer, the grande dame of the Regency romance, is one of my favourite authors. She's witty, she can plot like no one's business, and she has a knack for blending her research seamlessly into her work.

She is also racist as balls and her characters are all, with a few painful exceptions, white. In this*, as in so much else, many of today's Regency authors have followed her lead. England in the 19th century wasn't
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in the series but can be read as a standalone, set in the same universe as the first book but not closely connected with it. This is the most unusual historical romance I've read, even though I haven't read that many.

We have a Jewish hustler hero and a heroine who needs a husband to able to access her inheritance money.

This story shows us the other side of politics - the world of Tories and the politics of the rich and influential. It offers a nice contrast between the he
Lady Wesley
Nov 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Stunningly different from most historical romances out there. Rose Lerner is an outstanding new author to add to my favorites list.

Full review to follow at Romantic Historical Reviews.
Shira Glassman
True Pretenses by Rose Lerner first got on my radar this summer, as a much-needed anecdote to my anger upon discovering a trope in mainstream romance of Jewish women being paired with Nazi officers. After spending an appropriate amount of time feeling angry over the violence inherent in such a plot, I realized I was angry for a second reason: that trope exists because our men are seen, by outsiders, as nebbishy, as unmasculine, as wimpy, and generally unsexy. This is such utter bullshit, because ...more
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ash Cohen and his brother Rafe are long time swindlers and two con men who have come in that proverbial “fork in the road” and must decide what both want and need to be happy and content in their lives. They either continued with the life they knew well or take a chance in the future without cons. Surviving through cheating was enough for our hero, Ash but his brother has had enough of it and he wanted them to go straight and live honest lives, which was easier said than done.

For Ash, who had r
Rachna R
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much, I don't even know what to say!!!! Three chapters in I actually started highlighting passages of writing that I loved - some phrases here absolutely took my breath away, especially in the context of the story. I loved the way you could find little things about every character and know for sure that those things are there for you to find; I loved that those things were never used to be clever with me, because Lerner never dragged them out and went 'Look! There! See what ...more

4+ stars!

A Jewish conman falls for his mark (and match), an independent minded ginger heiress, in this wonderfully offbeat story that featured imperfect, multidimensional characters, beautifully complicated sibling relationships and a HEA ending that for once was not tied together with a pretty bow yet ultimately still both romantic and very satisfying. Tears were shed. The feels were overwhelming. At times it almost felt like there were too many good things to
Sam (AMNReader)
No easy romances in the universe of Rose Lerner. This one has so much pain and so much sweetness. She really does explore a different group of people than most historical romance authors-and I loved this stories of families we choose, swaps and sacrifices we make for love, and reconciling past with future.

What a lovely story. This is such a great series.
I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book, and to say I was happy about it would be an understatement. Anyone who has talked historical romance with me will know that I ADORE Rose Lerner. I fell in love with one of her earlier releases, A Lily Among Thorns, but her latest series has just gone from strength to stength. This is the second book in the Lively St. Lemeston series and some of the characters from the first book (Sweet Disorder) make an appearance, much to my delight.

Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars. Ash was such a tragic figure in the book, at times I had tears in my eyes at the feelings that he didn't know how to deal with. He had always been a protector of his brother Rafe, that when Rafe wanted out of the con-artist and grifter life that they had been living. Ash having been a thief and liar all of his life didn't think he had it in him to be honest. So he has one more big play to make and then he will cut Rafe free. He has found a woman for Rafe to fall in love with and even ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My First Look at Heroes and Heartbreakers, on an honest relationship between a con man and a political hostess. ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Disclosure: I requested this ARC through Netgalley. Thank you to Rose Lerner and Samhain Publishing for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

* * *

It's hard to talk about this book without spoiling it, because it is such an intricately-written story. Lerner has taken a number of plot threads and tackled them in her story.
- sibling dynamics
- values, friendship and political drama in a small town
- a marriage of convenience and how love figures into it
- Jews (and Catholics) and the Church
Kate Welsh
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh boy I LOVED this one. Lydia was EXTREMELY relatable and I loved both MCs and their little brothers so much. So much great family stuff in addition to the romance, and also delightful winter/Christmas content!
Pamela Shropshire
This is the second book of the series; it's also the second book of Ms. Lerner's that I've read. I enjoy her unique voice; she stands out from the myriad of today's historical romances. She creates real characters, ordinary people, not dukes and princes (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Lydia Reeve is mourning her father, Lord Wheatcroft, who was killed in a riding accident. Lord Wheatcroft was the Tory patron of Lively St. Lemeston; she has been his hostess since she was 17, eleven ye
Mónica BQ
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up

I really, really liked this one, but I didn't adore it.

I made the mistake of starting this while simultaneously starting my re-read of one of my favourite books ever. And consequently, every time I started reading, I felt very much like Jamie did at the beginning of True Pretenses: I don't care, leave me alone.

Once I finally got into the story, I liked it very very much. Ash was fucking adorable. And I loved Lydia to pieces, she's a fantastic heroine and I loved loved both of their
I loved much.....lmao

also 'the resurrection trade' would be a good name for something

anyway I was truly screeching the entire time and I put off so many responsibilities bc I couldn't put this down. thank u rose lerner

like idk nan I was like 'ugh con artist brothers' but then it reversed all my expectations (and wrote really lovely sibling relationships, too!)! god I loved it! it was realistic (you know what I mean) and fantastic! I'm so happy!!!!

and there were Big Ol Queers, MULTIPL
Elizabeth S.
I was able to get an ARC of this book, which is impossible to put down. I wanted to read it all in one go (which I pretty much did, despite my Kindle running low on power).

I got choked up at least twice while reading, thanks to Lerner's keen touch in depicting emotional situations involving Ash and Lydia. This is the third book by her I've read, and her work continues to improve (& her other books are already pretty great to start with). I can't recommend this romance highly enough.

The feeling of the romance in this book is hard to describe. It's a slow build, but at the same time is very straightforward from very early on. It feels...inexorable and it builds and builds in a quiet fashion to a conclusion that's almost as quiet but extremely satisfying.
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,5 stars!
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Mar 09, 2015 01:09PM  

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I discovered historical romance when I was twelve, and took my first stab at writing one a few years later. My prose has improved since then, but my fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. When I'm not writing and researching my own stories, or helping other authors write and research theirs over at Rose Does The Research, you can find me reading, watching, cooking, doodling, rambling, ...more

Other books in the series

Lively St. Lemeston (3 books)
  • Sweet Disorder (Lively St. Lemeston, #1)
  • Listen to the Moon (Lively St. Lemeston, #3)

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