A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh

Setting: Regency


Constantine is in London for the spring Season, as he usually is despite the fact that he loves spending the rest of the year on his estate in Gloucestershire. He is enjoying the company of his male friends and of his cousins, the Huxtables, now all married. But as usual he is looking about him for a mistress, some lady of class and refinement, probably a widow, with whom to enjoy some time until summer sends them their separate ways.

Hannah Reid, Duchess of Dunbarton, is free after a year of mourning for her elderly husband and has come to London for the Season. She is extraordinarily beautiful, and the whole of the ton, including Constantine, knows of the legion of lovers she enjoyed for years while her husband was still living. When she sets out to choose a new lover for the spring and fixes her choice upon Constantine, he is not flattered and is quite determined to resist her considerable charms. She is not at all his type.

But Hannah does not accept rejection easily, and Constantine can sometimes be persuaded to change his mind. What begins as a fairly lighthearted romp between two attractive, strong-willed protagonists, however, quickly develops into something far deeper and more serious as Hannah and Constantine begin to probe the dark secrets and vulnerabilities of each other’s lives.

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Yet another brilliant novel by Mary Balogh! Fans, me included, have been eagerly awaiting the final novel in the Huxtable series, which features the mysterious and complex hero, Constantine. We get Constantine’s happily ever after and readers, this one was worth the wait 😉

The first 4 books in the series covered the 4 Huxtable siblings who went from poverty to wealth almost overnight. Constantine is their illegitimate cousin which causes some concern as one of the Huxtable siblings inherits the earldom that was meant for him at the start of the series. Constantine has lived his whole life, thinking he is not worthy of love due to this unfortunate incident of birth. He is a complex hero, full of layers and there is a lot of pain behind his cool and confident exterior. But at the same time, he is honourable and capable of great passion. 😛

Hannah, our heroine, was one of my favourite parts of the book. She is an amazing multilayered character who is the PERFECT match for Constantine. At the start of the book she is cold, vain and unlikable and part of the joy of reading the book, for me at least, was seeing what was underneath that, and unfolding her ‘real’ self. Of course, I ended up loving her at the end. Mary Balogh does an amazing job of creating complex believable characters.

The story was pretty simple and character-driven with no external conflict or drama. It’s simply about two people who have been hurt in the past finding love with each other. It’s heart-wrenching and wonderfully romantic without being cheesy and over the top. This is the perfect book to read on a rainy day wrapped up in a blanket, letting the world pass by. 😀

As usual, Mary writes with sensitivity and great insight into the human soul. I love how she doesn’t go over the top with describing exactly what a character is thinking-she writes just enough for us to fill in the blanks without boring us with un-necessary description.

As for as how it ranks within the series, I have to say it is at the top, tied for the best along with Seducing An Angel, which was Stephen’s story. Pick this book up cause it’s worth it!

Sensuality Rating: Warm (Love scenes are short and not explicit)

Verdict: Perfect ending to a great series! 😀

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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