Review: A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh

secret affairReviewed by Janell

Here comes another borrowed paperback review! This book was published in 2011, and it’s the fifth and final book in the Huxtable Quintet series. Have I read any of the previous books in the series? No! From browsing some reviews, I gather that the hero of this book, Constantine, was set out as a betraying, devilish, secretive sort of guy in the other books. But I didn’t know any of that when I started reading, and I still understood that about Constantine. It must be because I am a professional reader. 

Hannah married an old duke when she was just nineteen. He hung on for ten years, and she mourned his death for another year, so now she’s thirty but still remarkably beautiful. Now she intends to take a lover for the Season, because it’s time for her to start living, and she’s pretty enough and powerful enough that no one will dare say no. She has her eye on Constantine because he’s sexy and known to take a new lover every year.

I was not impressed by the way Hannah went about her plan. She’s a duchess and used to wielding her influence. She begins making eye contact with Constantine, and whenever he does the polite thing and talks to her, or invites her to dance, she turns him down. Basically she plays games with him. Constantine knows this but lets her do it anyway, because he’s a little bit curious about this hot duchess who only wears white and covers herself in diamonds all the time.

Hannah clings to her bossiness even when Constantine agrees to be her lover. She clings to her image, too, switching on her imperial persona whenever she doesn’t want to get too emotionally involved. And so they have sex.

The point of this book is to show that, deep down, both Hannah and Constantine are wonderful people. They’re just too prideful to show it. And I get that, I guess, but the pride thing gets old after a while. They each have a secret, and their secrets are stunningly similar. Like, the revelation could easily have been, “You do that? Me, too!” But Hannah doesn’t want people to think that she cares, and Constantine doesn’t want people to think that he’s… nice? I guess?

Perhaps you can tell that I didn’t love this book. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around Hannah. I understood her, and the author clearly spelled out why she acted that way, but I didn’t seem to care and wanted to tell her to get over herself. One does not say that to a duchess, of course. And Constantine was just stubborn. He admitted it, which was nice, but still.

A lot of previous couples showed up in this book during a small house party and then near the end. It was probably a nice wrap up for them all, or a teaser to get me to want to read those other books. Hannah actually said something to a past heroine like, “You seem to have an unconventional story behind your relationship, you simply must tell it to me sometime.” In the end, everyone was happy happy happy. I was just kind of irked, I think.

Rating: B-/C+

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Secret Affair
by Mary Balogh
January 25, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press

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