Wednesday, August 22, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh

I love the convenience of requesting books online from my local library. One downside, however, is that I rarely spend time browsing in the library and picking something to read on the spur of the moment. Recently I decided to do just that, and took home an "old" (2010) Historical Romance by Mary Balogh: A Secret Affair.

The Duchess of Dunbarton (Hannah) is known to the ton as a breathtakingly beautiful woman who, at the age of nineteen, captured the elderly confirmed bachelor, the Duke. She obviously married for his title and money, while he obviously could not resist her beauty. It is also known that she took many lovers during their marriage, which, incredibly, lasted ten years before he finally died. Now, after an obligatory year of mourning, the Duchess is back in London for a Season and the ton eagerly anticipates her next move.

Constantine Huxtable (tall, dark, and handsome) is the eldest son of an earl, but since he was born two days before his parents’ marriage, his illegitimacy made him ineligible to inherit the title. His younger brother inherited, then died at sixteen, and the title and estates went to a cousin. Mr. Huxtable has not wasted time mourning lost chances, but has made himself as comfortable in society as if he were an earl. That includes taking a mistress each Season in London before retiring back to his country estate.

The Duchess plans to take a lover and she intends that it be Constantine. Although he has always chosen his own mistress in the past, he is willing to be chosen this time. Their affair begins with passion and a mutual agreement that it will be short-term and superficial.

Of course, it is neither.

Both have carefully cultivated their scandalous reputations in order to conceal deeply private pasts brimful of hurt and insecurity. Although both move easily in society, they are lonely. And it doesn’t take long before they spill their secrets to one another and fall in love.

Although predictable, the story is fun and the characters are charming. They tend a little too much towards long speeches pouring out their past woes, but they also engage in witty banter. I haven’t read any of the other books in this particular Romance series but now I’m considering looking up the rest and reading them in order.