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4.1 out of 5 stars
A Secret Affair: Number 5 in series (Huxtables)
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Mary Balogh's publishers are having a busy time of it, with several older books being re-issued and the Huxtable series all released very close to each other.

This book is the fifth and final book in the Huxtable series and has been a longer wait than the others. I suspect this is a good thing as I found the previous books less memorable but this one was a bit more special.

Constantine Huxtable has appeared in the previous books ('First Comes Marriage', 'Then Comes Seduction', 'At Last Comes Love' and 'Seducing An Angel') and it was hard to know whether he was a good or bad character. He behaved badly occasionally in the former books, and has apparently got a very dark past with regard to selling his brother's jewels, but it was never entirely clear whether there was a misunderstanding.

In this book we gradually unpeel the layers of mystery around Con and find out what he's really like. And this voyage of discovery happens through Hannah Reid, Duchess of Dunbarton, a woman who is just out of mourning for her much older husband. Everyone knows Hannah is a shallow, avaricious woman who married a man old enough to be her grandfather to get a title. She gets what she wants, and this year she wants Con as a lover.

But, as usual in a Mary Balogh novel, people are deeper than they appear on the outside. When Hannah fixes on Con for her lover, she doesn't realise that she's going to get MUCH more than she bargained for. And when Con finds himself in trouble, he would never have guessed that shallow Hannah might be the one to help him.

There's a lot of emotion in this book and it's a real joy to read, with the characters from the previous Huxtable series making appearances but the major focus on the relationship between Hannah and Con. It's well written, of course, feels historically accurate and leaves the reader with a real sense of the happiness of the characters and their suitability. Another tour de force from Mary Balogh.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2010
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Hannah Reid, Duchess of Dunbarton, had adored her elderly husband during their ten years of marriage. Of course, no one would have believed it had they known. Many believed Hannah married the duke for his fortune and that the men who had often escorted Hannah to events were her lovers. Now that Hannah's year of mourning is over, she has become the thoroughly enviable female creature known as a widow of wealth and superior social standing. Hannah is determined to continue on as her late duke had taught her. Other than her continued childhood friendship with Miss Barbara "Babs" Leavensworth, Hannah never looks back, only forward. The London Season is about to begin and Hannah plans to take her first paramour. Though he did not know it, Mister Constantine "Con" Huxtable would be that gentleman.

Every year Con chooses a new mistress to dally with during the Season. Normally the Duchess of Dunbarton would never have been on his mental list of wanted lovers, but Hannah has managed to alter that. Slowly, and without even realizing it themselves, Hannah and Con open up to each other. They begin to understand each other and their pasts as few truly ever do. They may even be able to accomplish the impossible - heal all past wounds.

*** THREE STARS! This is the last story about a member of the Huxtable family. Though I dreaded the series to end, it had to happen eventually. The duchess came across cold as ice in the beginning. As more of her past was revealed, I understood why that was so. The author did a superior job of peeling back the multiple layers of this character's personality and showing her various sides. However, Con's character remained too stiff and bland for my liking.

Characters from past titles appear in cameos. It was nice to see how they were fairing. I found this story to have more bedroom scenes than the previous titles. Do not expect a lot of danger and suspense. The story keeps focused on the two main characters' affair and pasts. Therefore, this is a slow paced tale. I do not believe this is the best work of the author's, but it is still a sweet romance and worth your time. ***

Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Review taken from my Blog Post #140 in July 2011, after I borrowed the book from the local library:

This proved to be a 5 Star read, and has now cleared up the questions that I had about Constantine Huxtable very nicely.

Through a twist of fate, and even though his parents were married, Constantine was not considered legitimate and the Earldom went to his handicapped brother Jonathan, who sadly died at the age of 16 - the Earldom then passed to a distant Cousin, Stephen and a feud began with his other Cousin the Duke of Moreland.

Meanwhile, the stunningly beautiful 19 year old Hannah Reid married the Duke of Dunbarton, who was elderly and lived a lot longer than anyone could predict. Throughout her marriage there were rumours of her persistent and flagrant affairs.

After a year of mourning, she arrives back in London for the Season at the age of thirty determined to live up to her reputation, and take a lover, but not just any old lover, the darkly handsome, delicious and dangerous Constantine.

Surely a Season's worth of fun with Constantine will do her good, and give her a chance the following Season to find the one thing the old Duke promised her she would eventually find .... the love of her life.

Secrets uncovered, and a love that neither of them were expecting makes this a highly readable tale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2011
The story of Con is my favorit of all Huxtable books..... I don't see Hannah as cold as other reviewers describe her. I liked her. For me Cassandra (wife of Stephen) is far more arrogant and antypathy.
Constantine's and Margaret's stories I liked best from all.
The New York Times writes about "A Secret Affair": M.Baloghs most beguiling novel yet....
How right.
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on 15 January 2015
This is the final instalment of the Huxtable books, and it rounds the series off beautifully. I have read reviews which have and have not enthused about the series, but for any Mary Balogh fan, or indeed for anyone who likes thoughtful, satisfying relationship stories, this is a must. Of course there will be some of the five books that you will prefer to others but I think you can only get the full picture if you read all of them. I loved the first story, that of Vanessa and Elliott, and read the others in order - I have just reread the entire series and got so much more out of it second time around. Family is paramount in all these stories, and the circumstances under which each family member finds his or her partner and works through obstacles in relationships which are anything but perfect and definitely not love-at-first-sight, is so satisfying. The warmth and encouragement of family members is delightful.

I think I liked this final story the most because of the way it brought all the loose ends together - an adult hero and heroine who are really not very likeable not just to us but to each other, and the way they very slowly open up to each other is heart-warming. There is an utterly swoon-worthy scene in the park towards the end of the book when the hero appears on his horse - I was positively weak-kneed! However, there is also a great deal of emphasis on Con's relationships with his cousins so that the book is not totally focused on the main couple, but gives us an insight into how the others couples are getting on and how the various rifts are healed. A thoroughly satisfying read, but do read the whole series.
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on 10 February 2012
This is the last story in the Huxtable series, and it is Con's story, the mysterious cousin with a dark past and a strong love for his cousins, who he ought to rightly hate.
When I started reading this, I was worried that the plot was also the same as Stephan's book, Seducing an Angel (Huxtable Series), a woman with a dark past seduces them for her own purposes, and they play mistress/ lover for a while before they reveal their secrets, fall in love and get married.
However, as I read on, I was pleasently suprised. Balough manages to steer the book past this danger and creatw a whole new story, which I actually enjoyed much more than Stephans. Con has been a mystery for the first 4 books, and so I was looking forward to finding out his secrets, especially those relating to his fight with his cousin Elliot. Hannah, Con's lover and the heroine of the book, has her own secrets and heartache, but despite what society thinks of her, is actually very vunerable and lovable (both as a heroine and to Con!). The only part of the book which annoyed me, was where Con's family tried to protect him from Hannah, which as everyone of them had marrages to people with their own dark secrets and reputations and yet found their happily ever after, I thought this was a bit rich coming from them. But that is just a personal greviance rather than an actual complaint against the book.
I definately would recomend this book, especailly to readers who have read the rest of the Huxtable series, as all the previous characters are mentioned and it is a very good ending to the series, but it also works as a stand alon book too.
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on 10 November 2010
What an utter joy this book was to read; I thought it was an absolute masterpiece of romantic fiction. If you like a character driven, touching romance that makes you laugh and cry (Without ever feeling miserable, I might add) then do read this. Don't rush through it - take your time and savour every minute - I promise you won't be disappointed.

Mary Balogh talks a lot about peeling the petals from a rose to reveal the heart of someone's personality and that's what she sets out to do with these two characters. The result is remarkable and makes you gradually fall in love with both hero and heroine as, piece by piece, their wonderful characters are revealed to you.

The dialogue absolutely crackles between them, their funny, complex relationship building as your affection for each of them grows.

Make sure you read the others in the series first to gain the maximum enjoyment from reading this final installment. A genuine five star classic that you'll read again! :-)
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on 10 June 2012
So it was Con's story this time around and I actually really enjoyed reading about him, mysterious as he's been throughout other books. In the end Con isn't quite as black hearted and scandalous as we first thought but I enjoyed getting to know both him and the Duchess, Hannah. Hannah was quite a likeable character, although she has unbelieveable beauty we get to see what a curse it is (how awful for her...), she didn't overly annoy me but I still felt she was a little flat compared to other heroines Balogh has written.
The plotline has been seen before and every book in this series seems to follow a stamp, I think I've read 3 of her books now and that's enough for awhile. However, if you're not sure where to start, try the end with this novel! I haven't read any of books in order and didn't come across any real problem in doing so.
Overall yet another solid book from Balogh even though it's getting a little repetitive in this series...
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on 15 April 2015
What a wonderful family the Huxtables are !
I have enjoyed every one of these books and I think the themes running through the stories have been thoughtful and beautifully handled. There is a symmetry about the first being about a woman viewed as plain by society and prepared to sacrifice her own life for others and finishing with Hannah whose beauty is a burden until she meets her Duke who enables her to live a life of value. It was wonderful to see all of Constantines back story and see him find love too.
This was the first one where I cried (twice ) I just loved it .
Start with the first book and share the journey-you won't regret it. I wish I could start again......
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on 4 September 2011
this the fifth and final book in the Huxtable series and this time the writer turns to black sheep of the family Constantine Huxtable for the leading man. having started off the series where we learn how he is not the Earl of Merton by 2 days and the circumstances of Stephen coming to the title it seems fitting he end it aswell. Con has appeared in all the previous novels and had a black cloud following him around. All is revealed in this great read and he meets his match in the lovely Duchess of Dunbarton who has secrets of her own.
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