Two days following the release of Christine and her lover, Erik must make a decision. Will he succumb to his grief at losing Christine or will he rise above it and move on, leaving her in his past?
Erik decides to move on - and so he moves to England.
Living in a small cottage on the outskirts of London, Erik merely exists for a year or so still tortured by his past. Until one day, a small black and white collie comes scratching at his front door.
Beaten and with a broken leg, the dog looks up at the deformed recluse. Erik takes pity on her and nurses her back to health. This one act of kindness impels him to live his life in the real world, and in so doing, his love for music is rekindled.
He dusts off the unused piano he'd purchased when he bought the house and immerses himself in his music. When it comes to the point where that fails to satisfy him, he ventures out into the city to visit the many theaters, to lurk in the rafters and take in the concerts and musicals performed therein. He finally decides on one particular theater to visit because he favors the fine quality of the orchestra.
Eventually, a young woman starts to join him in the rafters for the performances. At first he is annoyed, but she is a quiet lady with a calm demeanor and he soon learns to ignore her and the older gentleman that sometimes accompanies her. However, when the young woman and her companion fail to show for a several-month hiatus, he is curious and surprised to see her show up once again, this time climbing the stairs to the rafters with a cane. It is obvious that the young woman is going blind. This development catches his attention so he leans toward them from his hiding place and listens to their conversation.
He soon discovers that the young woman, named Melodie, is an accomplished composer in her own right. Her guardian, Henry (the man who accompanies her to the theater), recommended her to write a chamber-orchestra arrangement to be performed at the birthday party of the wife of one of the Parliament members. Because Melodie is a woman and one of the lower class at that, it becomes necessary for Henry to instigate the deception. Therefore, she is portrayed as being a reclusive man by the name of Michael Blythe.
Sometime later, Erik makes a point to meet the young female composer. I'll skip the details in case you want to read it. But due to Melodie's deteriorating eyesight and need of an assistant - and Erik's need of procuring funds - she hires him to help her transfer her music to paper and to assist her with the score. Thus, a collaboration of musical talents ensues and a relationship between the young, attractive, and nearly blind composer and the former Phantom of the Opera begins...
Although I'm generally not a keen Erik/Other Woman shipper, this story proves to me that a believable and fairly enjoyable story can be written about Erik and another woman. In fact, I didn't miss Christine at all in this book.
Still, "Deception" is a far cry from Susan Kay's "Phantom" or Suzy Charnas' "Beauty and the Opéra". "Deception" reads like a fanfic. I came across phrases that sounded too modern for 19th century dialogue. While I like the premise and the story basics, there were developments that seemed rather "forced" to me. The author also incorporates incidents that are very reminiscent of some of the happenings at the Paris Opera House - not to mention a character by the name of David Wentworth who seemed very "Raoulish" to me.
Of course, that's just me. Other readers may be intrigued by those developments so if that's the case, I don't want to discourage you from reading it. Besides, there seems to be a glut of self-published "phanphics" out there and compared to the vast majority of them, this is one of the better ones.