Monday, October 27, 2014

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

Mary Balogh has no equal when it comes to capturing the complex, irresistible passions between men and women. Her classic novel, The Secret Pearl, is one of the New York Times bestselling author’s finest–a tale of temptation and seduction, of guarded hearts and raw emotion…and of a love so powerful it will take your breath away….

He first spies her in the shadows outside a London theatre, a ravishing creature forced to barter her body to survive.

To the woman known simply as Fleur, the well-dressed gentleman with the mesmerizing eyes is an unlikely savior. And when she takes the stranger to her bed, she never expects to see him again. But then Fleur accepts a position as governess to a young girl…and is stunned to discover that her midnight lover is a powerful nobleman. As two wary hearts ignite–and the threat of scandal hovers over them–one question remains: will she be mistress or wife?

Published & Release Date: Dell, Random House, November 29, 2005

Time and setting: Regency England  

Genre: Historical Romance

Heat Level: 1.5

Reviewer rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Reviewed by Vikki

I have now read this particular book three times. I rarely read books over again, except for Mary Balogh’s. Her stories are always so poignant and full of deep emotion. The Secret Pearl is a perfect example of her astonishing writing ability. This book was originally published in 1991, and I’m sure it broke all the rules back then, as it still does today. It is a story of adultery and the heart-breaking choices that the hero and heroine have to make.

Adam Kent, the Duke of Ridgeway leaves Drury Lane after a night at the theater. He sees a young woman standing in the shadows against the side of the building. Her quiet demeanor intrigues him. He asks her price for a night of pleasure He takes her to an inn close by and finds out she is—or at least she was—a virgin before he took her. After what was not a pleasant encounter for either of them, he takes her down to the tap room and buys her a meal. He finds out that she has not eaten in two days, and in desperation, she decided to sell the only thing she had of value, her virginity. After giving her some advice, they part on less than friendly terms when he drops her off in front of a dingy employment agency.

Adam is overcome with remorse. It is the first time he has violated his marriage vows, and to do it in such a cruel way…horrifies him to say the least. He sends his secretary out the next day to find her and offer her employment as his daughter’s governess.

Isabella Fleur Bradshaw is overjoyed when she is offered a position as governess for Mr. and Mrs. Kent’s five year old daughter. Determined to put that whole nightmarish evening out of her mind, she travels to the family home of the Kents, only to find out they are titled. She begins instructing the little girl and vows to be the best governess a child could ever hope for. She spends the first two weeks at Willoughby Hall in blissful ignorance that her new employer, the duke, is none other than the man who used her body on that fateful night.

There are a myriad of other problems facing Fleur. A murder charge hangs over her head, so she dares not flee from the hall. Adam’s guilt over his one night of infidelity is acute. While appalled by him, Fleur is drawn to the duke when she realizes he is an honorable man who gave into the frailty of his male nature. Will this unlikely couple choose honor over love, or give into their overwhelming passion for each other?

I could not stop reading this amazing story, even though I had read it twice before. The hero—who should not be a likable character—stole my heart with his immense sense of honor toward a wife who has long denied him his husbandly rights. No wonder he finally gave into temptation! A Heroine, who is a prostitute—at least for one night—captured me and held me in thrall from the first page to the last.

This is not a pretty story at all, and at times uncomfortable to read, but fascinating nonetheless. Only Mary Balogh can write a story so full of plot twists and turns that it boggles the mind, and scenes so heart-wrenching that they tore at my soul. There is a scene in the carriage where they sit side by side only allowing their little fingers to touch. It brought tears to my eyes.

If you want a story rich with passion, yet denial of a love to last a lifetime, a story that will tear at your heart, then give it back to you at the ending, this is one of Ms. Balogh’s you will not want to miss. Happy reading! 

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