Review: A Secret Love

A Secret Love
A Secret Love by Stephanie Laurens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Lady Alathea Morwellan learns that her loving yet gullible father has inadvertently risked the family fortune on an obvious scam, she seeks the aid of her childhood nemesis, Gabriel Cynster. Convinced that Gabriel would refuse her request, Alathea dons the disguise of a mysterious veiled woman and in doing so incites not only his curiosity but his passion as well. Will Alathea be able to keep her secret and can she withstand Gabriel’s wrath when he learns the truth?

Unfortunately, this is not one of the stronger installments in the series perhaps because it combines two conflicting tropes – the love/hate relationship (a favorite of mine) and the keeping secrets (a theme that irritates me no end).

This combination of tropes is problematic for several reasons. First, it affects the reader’s perception of the romance as the interactions between Gabriel and Alathea’s mysterious alter ego are superficial and lack the chemistry that sizzles during their disguise free encounters. Moreover, Gabriel and Alathea’s relationship loses some of its charm once her true identity is revealed as their snarky banter all but disappears.

Second, these tropes require a great deal of suspension of disbelief as Gabriel and Alathea are hardly strangers and it is difficult to accept that he cannot see her true identity.

Finally, Alathea’s behavior is somewhat contradictory. On the one hand, she tries to keep Gabriel at arms length when she is using her assumed persona. However, once their relationship turns intimate, she is as aggressive in this area as he.

The mystery involving the scam artist is interesting and the climax and resolution are one of the more exciting in the series. Nevertheless, this cannot compensate for the weaker romance.

Lucifer’s book is next and I look forward to meeting the woman who will bring that last of the Bar Cynster to his knees.

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