Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release: Jan 25, 2011
Source: I purchased this book to read and review
Book 5 of the Huxtable quintet. Constantine Huxtable, who takes a new mistress in London every spring, meets his match in the notorious Hannah, widowed Duchess of Dunbarton, who refuses to take no for an answer when she decides that he will be her lover for the Season. But both harbor secrets, and in the uncovering of them they begin to fall in love.
Finally we come to the end of the Huxtable series by Mary Balogh. I am so happy to report that the last book in her latest best selling series features Con Huxtable. We see many glimpse of Con throughout the other books in this series. He seems to have many faces. His father married his mother two days too late, making Con illegitimate. His mother dies early; his father also dies early, and is no winner! His younger brother, Jonathan Huxtable was born with what was probably Down’s Syndrome and only lived for 16 years. He had an incredible effect on those lives that he touched during his short life. When Elliot came into his title at an early age, he was suddenly Jonathan’s guardian and his former childhood compatriot, Con, did everything he could to make that job difficult. The end result was some wrong assumptions and a divide was created between Elliot and Con that lasted for years.
Hannah Reid was born a commoner, but married a duke after a 5 day acquaintance, when she was 19 years old. He was many years her senior, and many assumed that she married him for his money. She expected to be a widow in a few short years, but instead, had 10 years with him to learn from him. Many rumors had floated around through the years about her life with the duke and her supposed infidelities. She is now coming out of her year of mourning determined to take a lover. She sets her sights on Con because she considers him “safe”. Con is well known for taking a different lover every season and then gracefully ending the affair when he heads back to the country at the end of the season.
These two characters are so unlikeable on the surface. Hannah is the quintessential “Ice Princess” only showing the world what she wants to show them. Maintaining control and playing games. Con has apparently done many things that make him to be a very unlikable person. He supposedly stole from his disabled brother, he is an unrepentant rake, and he seems to have a secret life in the off season.
Frankly, when this book started, I had no interest in learning about Con. I thought Mary Balogh should have stopped this series at 4 books. That idea was reinforced when we started to learn about Hannah and her superficiality. I was about to put the book down until suddenly the layers started peeling off of both of these seemingly unlikeable characters. The story grew from that point. I’m a rather sentimental type of person, and it is not unusual for me to end a particularly moving book with a kleenex in one hand, book in the other. I’m not shy to admit that I found this book to be so moving that I was in tears for the last hour of reading. My husband would come in and check on me periodically, and still I read on. I can’t say that I have read a more moving or more appropriate ending to a series of books. This book has to be one of my all time favorite novels! I think it is certainly one of the best written books that I have read! Get ready your box of kleenex and prepare to finish the story of the Huxtable family in grand form! Enjoy!
RTBookReviews has given A Secret Affair 4.5 stars, labelled it a Top Pick and nominated it for the 2010 Regency-Set Historical Romance. They had the following to say: “The Huxtables, that scandalous, delicious family, return as the black sheep finds a woman more notorious than he. Balogh has taken a classic plot and infused it with maturity of character and content. It’s a love story about grown-ups for grown-ups; those who appreciate the nuances of relationships, full of passion, trust, friendship and love.”
“Mary Balogh has masterfully woven a romantic tale of the importance of family, of compassion, and of love and forgiveness in this fifth book in her series about the Huxtable family. A Secret Affair will not disappoint, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the “secrets.” Viki Ferrell, Fresh Fiction
“Balogh has saved the best for last; Constantine-dark, wicked, and cryptic-has a perfect foil in Hannah, and their encounters are steamy, their romance believable. Though series fans will be disappointed to see it come to a close, they couldn’t ask for a better way to go out.” Publisher’s Weekly