The Truth about Love (Cynster Series)

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When New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens created the Cynsters, a phenomenon was born. Bold, passionate, and possessive, the Cynster men let nothing stand in their way when it comes to claiming the women of their hearts. Now, Stephanie Laurens has written her most romantic and powerful novel to date, one that dares tell The Truth About Love.

Gerrard Debbington is one of the chosen few -- the gentlemen who've learned their social and amorous skills at the feet of ...

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The Truth about Love (Cynster Series)

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When New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens created the Cynsters, a phenomenon was born. Bold, passionate, and possessive, the Cynster men let nothing stand in their way when it comes to claiming the women of their hearts. Now, Stephanie Laurens has written her most romantic and powerful novel to date, one that dares tell The Truth About Love.

Gerrard Debbington is one of the chosen few -- the gentlemen who've learned their social and amorous skills at the feet of the masters. Handsome and wealthy, prot&eacutegé and brother-in-law of Vane Cynster, Gerrard is part of the charmed Cynster family circle. One of the most eligible gentlemen in the ton, Gerrard is constantly besieged by offers from London's most sought-after beauties, but as the ton's foremost artistic lion, there's only one offer he wants to accept -- the chance to paint the fantastical but seldom-seen gardens of reclusive Lord Tregonning's Hellebore Hall.

That chance is dangled before Gerrard, but to grasp it he must fulfill Lord Tregonning's demand that he also create an open and honest portrait of the man's daughter. Gerrard loathes the idea of wasting his time and talents on some simpering miss, but with no alternative, he agrees ...

Only to discover that Jacqueline Tregonning inspires him as no other lady has. Certainly she is beautiful, but Gerrard is stunned by the deep emotions she stirs and is captivated by her passionate nature and innate goodness. He is soon convinced that Jacqueline is the soul mate he needs as his wife.

But something is horribly wrong at Hellebore Hall. Evil lurks in the beautiful gardens and along the rambling pathways. And that evil reaches out to ensnare Jacqueline, trapping her in a web of insidious whispers -- whispers that paint her as a double murderess.

The rumors are false, but someone is actively spreading them. Convinced that Jacqueline is innocent of all wrongdoing, Gerrard is confident his portrait will open others' eyes to the truth he sees, but when a long-dead body is discovered in the gardens, the campaign to blame Jacqueline escalates -- Gerrard and she are running out of time. The days they spend together lead to nights of sweeping passion -- and Gerrard vows to move heaven and earth to protect the woman who, for him, personifies the truth about love.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In The Truth about Love, her 12th Cynster novel, bestselling author Stephanie Laurens weaves a dark mystery with an elegant romance. Portrait artist Gerrard Debbington will do almost anything for the opportunity to paint the legendary gardens of Hellebore Hall. Its owner, Lord Tregonning, strikes a curious bargain: Gerrard may paint the gardens only if he first paints a portrait of the lord's daughter, Jacqueline. One reluctant look at her and it is love at first sight for this self-assured bachelor, but much stands in the way of their happiness. Jacqueline is widely suspected by family and neighbors to have murdered her mother several years ago; these rumors gain new life when another dead body turns up in the lush greenery. While Gerrard's portrait of Jacqueline will tell the truth about her innocence, he will never be able to experience the truth about love until the real murderer is found. Ginger Curwen
Library Journal
More Cynster saga. Family prot g Gerrard Debbington shuns romance-until he meets a young lady in distress whose portrait he is to paint. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060793524
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/15/2005
  • Series: Cynster Series
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie Laurens

Elizabeth Sastre was nominated for a Barrymore Award for her starring performance in Camila. Other stage work includes Sweet Bird of Youth, A Dybbuk, Nine, and Carousel. Her TV work includes As the World Turns, and Law and Order.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

The Truth About Love
A Cynster Novel

Chapter One

London, Early June 1831

"Mr. Cunningham, as I've already made clear, I have no interest whatever in painting a portrait of Lord Tregonning's daughter." Gerrard Reginald Debbington lounged elegantly in an armchair in the smoking room of his select gentleman's club. Concealing his mounting frustration, he held Lord Tregonning's agent's gaze. "I agreed to this meeting in the hope that Lord Tregonning, having been informed of my refusal of the commission to paint the portrait, had agreed to allow me access to the Hellebore Hall gardens."

He was, after all, the ton's foremost landscape painter; Lord Tregonning's famous gardens were long overdue a visit from such as he.

Cunningham blanched. Clearing his throat, he glanced down at the papers spread on the small table between them.

Around them, a discreet hum held sway; Gerrard was peripherally aware of occasional glances thrown their way. Other members saw him, but on noticing Cunningham, they checked; recognizing that business was being conducted, they refrained from intruding.

Cunningham was in his mid-twenties, some years younger than Gerrard's twenty-nine. Attired in sober, rusty black over serviceable linen and a biscuit-colored waistcoat, his round face, faint frown, and the intent attention he gave to his papers marked him clearly as someone's business agent.

By the time Cunningham deigned to speak, Gerrard had a sketch assembled in his head, titled "Business Agent at Work."

"Lord Tregonning has instructed me to convey that while he appreciates your reservations over committing to a portrait of a subject you haven't yet seen, such reservations only strengthen his conviction that you are indeed the painter he needs for this work. His lordship fully comprehends that you will paint his daughter as you see her, without any obfuscation. That is precisely what he wishes -- he wants the portrait to be a faithful rendition, to accurately portray Miss Tregonning as she truly is."

Gerrard's lips thinned; this was going nowhere.

Without looking up, Cunningham went on, "In addition to the fee offered, you may take as many months short of a year as you deem necessary to complete the portrait, and over that time you will have unfettered access and unrestricted permission to sketch and paint the gardens of Hellebore Hall. Should you wish, you may bring a friend or companion; you would both be accommodated at Hellebore Hall for the duration of your stay."

Gerrard stifled his exasperation. He hadn't needed to hear that offer again, no matter how sweetly laced; he'd turned it down two weeks ago, when Cunningham had first sought him out.

Stirring, he caught Cunningham's eye. "Your employer misunderstands -- I do not, indeed, have never painted on commission. Painting is an abiding interest, one I'm wealthy enough to indulge. Painting portraits, however, is no more than an incidental pastime, successful perhaps, but not in the main of serious attraction to me, to my painterly soul if you will."

Not strictly true, but in the present circumstance, apt enough. "While I would be delighted to have the opportunity to paint the Hellebore Hall gardens, not even that is sufficient incentive to tempt me to agree to a portrait I have no inclination, or need, to paint."

Cunningham held his gaze. He drew in a tight breath, glanced briefly down, then looked up again, his gaze fixing over Gerrard's left shoulder. "His lordship instructed me to inform you that this will be his final offer ... and that should you refuse it, he will be forced to find some other painter to undertake the portrait, and that other painter will be accorded the same license in respect of the gardens as was offered to you. Subsequently, Lord Tregonning will ensure that during his lifetime and that of his immediate heirs, no other artist will be allowed access to the gardens of Hellebore Hall."

Suppressing his reaction, remaining seated, took all Gerrard's considerable willpower. What the devil was Tregonning about, resorting to what amounted to extortion ... ?

He looked away, unseeing.

One thing was clear. Lord Tregonning was bound and determined to have him paint his daughter.

Leaning his elbow on the chair arm, his clenched jaw on his fist, fixing his gaze across the room, he searched for some acceptable way out of the well-baited trap. None immediately leapt to mind; his violent antipathy to allowing some portrait panderer to be the only artist to gain access to the fabulous landscapes said to surround Hellebore Hall was clouding his perception.

He looked at Cunningham. "I need to consider his lordship's proposal more carefully."

Given the clipped accents that had infected his speech, he wasn't surprised that Cunningham kept his expression carefully neutral. The agent nodded once. "Yes, of course. How long ... ?"

"Twenty-four hours." If he let such a subject torture him for any longer, unresolved, he'd go insane. He rose and extended his hand. "You're at the Cumberland, I believe?"

Hurriedly gathering his papers, Cunningham stood and grasped his hand. "Yes. Ah ... I'll wait to hear from you."

Gerrard nodded curtly. He remained by the chair until Cunningham had left, then stirred and followed him out.

He walked the parks of the capital -- St. James, Green Park, then into Hyde Park. A poor choice; his boots had barely touched the lawn when he was hailed by Lady Swaledale, eager to introduce him to her daughter and her niece. A bevy of matrons with bright-eyed damsels in tow leaned from their carriages, hoping to catch his attention; others hovered, parading along the grassed verge.

Spotting his aunt Minnie, Lady Bellamy, in her carriage drawn up by the side of the Avenue, he excused himself to a particularly clinging fond mama on the grounds of paying his respects. The instant he reached the carriage, he grasped Minnie's hand and with an extravagant gesture, kissed it. "I'm throwing myself on your mercy -- save me," he implored ...

The Truth About Love
A Cynster Novel
. Copyright © by Stephanie Laurens. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Interviews & Essays

Heart to Heart Interview with Stephanie Laurens

Heart to Heart: What is it about these Regency men that is so appealing to modern women? And did you anticipate their popularity in any way when you first started the series?

Stephanie Laurens: Regency heroes have held a special appeal since...well, Regency times. First came Jane Austen, later Georgette Heyer, and now the present crop of works -- the appeal of the Regency hero has never really waned. I've always put that down to the "civilized warrior" persona, which is what the aristocratic males I use as heroes possess. They are so utterly sophisticated on the outside, yet that veneer is thin and very easy for the heroine to scratch, and then the warrior-lord character shines through. It's the arrogant and dangerous warrior-lord character the heroine has to deal with, and that the readers so love to see getting his comeuppance in the form of falling in love. In addition, in all my works, regardless of what the heroine might initially believe, in the end, it's always the hero who is the pursuer -- and the notion of being single-mindedly pursued physically and emotionally by such a difficult and dangerous warrior-lord is one of the most potent and enduring romantic fantasies. I always thought readers would enjoy the Cynsters and their like, because I did -- that's why I wrote such books -- but when I started the books, I had no real concept of how widespread that shared liking would be, and what that would translate to in terms of success.

HtoH: The Truth about Love features a wonderfully complex young woman who is suspected of murder and the man who falls in love with her at first sight, against his best intentions. What were your greatest challenges in writing this book?

SL: Unquestionably, the most challenging aspect was adequately portraying the complexity of Jacqueline, the heroine. One of the recurring themes throughout the book, with hero, heroine, villains, supporters, is that people's images of others, and especially their preconceived notions about the character of others, are often incorrect. What people imagine they see, and the reality of what lies behind the mask, can often be strikingly different. In the heroine's case, the hero from the first sees her accurately, while most of those who've known her all her life see her through the distorting lens of their own expectations and assumptions. The battle for both hero and heroine is in removing the distortion and bringing her back into sharp focus as a person innocent of murder.

HtoH: What is the most common question you get on your web site?

SL: That's easy -- it's always about the heroes-in-the-wings, in the context of when I'll be writing about (fill in any secondary character from one of my recent books). The current hot favorite upcoming heroes are: Timothy Danvers, Viscount Breckenridge from The Ideal Bride; Reggie Carmarthen (the Cynster twins' friend from On a Wild Night and On a Wicked Dawn, who is the hero of the novella "Lost & Found" in the June 2005 anthology Hero, Come Back); and the mysterious Dalziel from the Bastion Club novels. And I'm sure the Hon. Barnaby Adair will be added to the list as soon as readers consume The Truth about Love. All these heroes-in-the-wings will eventually find their ladies, of course!

HtoH: Tell us what you're working on now and your upcoming publication schedule.

SL: I'm currently polishing the manuscript for the fourth Bastion Club novel, A Fine Passion -- Jack Warnefleet's story, which will be released in September 2005 -- and in the next month, I'll be starting on next year's new Cynster novel, which is a tale of Irish intrigue involving Dillon Caxton from A Rogue's Proposal, now ten years older, supported by Demon Cynster and his wife, Flick. In addition to The Truth about Love and The Ideal Bride, my 2005 release schedule includes the novella mentioned above, in the anthology Hero, Come Back in June, followed by the fourth Bastion Club novel, A Fine Passion, in September.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 36 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2008

    I really liked this book!

    I really enjoyed 'The Truth About Love'. Gerrard Debbington, the male lead in 'The Truth About Love' was a teenager who had been falsely accused of theft when first introduced in Book #2 'A Rake's Vow' of Stephanie Lauren's Bar Cynster series. He appeared a second time in Book #5 'A Secret Love' where he helped destroy a syndicate of lenders out to defraud borrowers. Now in book #12 Gerrard is all grown up and quite the hunk and involved in his own romance! Gerrard is rich, but his first love has always been painting - specifically landscapes, however on occasion he'll paint the occasional family portrait. In 'The truth About Love' he's been asked to paint the lovely and reserved Jacqueline, and learns the various gossips suspect she's involved in two murders - her fiance and her own mother. Her father who has commissioned the portrait is hidden away, mindlessly lost in grief, and in a desperate and irrational bid to fight the gossip and innuendo surrounding his daughter wants the artist in Gerrard to find and reveal her 'innocence' in the portrait (shades of 'The Picture of Dorian Grey'!). Prior to meeting Jacqueline he's lured by the promise he can also paint the fabulous gardens around her ancestral home, but after meeting her they are drawn to each other, and Gerrard agrees to the commission. Fortunately he arrives at the estate with his good friend, Barnaby Adair, and the two men must deal with the snobs and ineffectual local officials and set out to prove her innocent by finding the actual murderer and completing the painting. Along the way Jacqueline and Gerrard fall deeply in love. Stephanie Laurens is a very descriptive writer, and she's woven a wonderful tale about the wealthy class of the time period. The scenery is lush and the various Gardens of the Gods come alive. The lovemaking is achingly intense. The intricacies involving painting a masterpiece is fascinating. The villain is particularly dastardly and the ending is satisfying. And it's wonderful to see various characters from previous novels brought back to the forefront - Devil and Honoria, Vane and Patience, and Minnie and Timms. The introduction of Barnaby Adair presents a new path for Ms. Laurens. I highly recommend this novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2014

    Excellent book and very enjoyable series!!  Recommend Very Highl

    Excellent book and very enjoyable series!!  Recommend Very Highly!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013

    excellent read!!

    I have truly enjoyed all the stories within the Cynster series....this one included! I especially love the recurring characters popping up throughout the series, as well as the introduction of new characters as the family continues to grow!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Story

    I really loved this book. The plot was very interesting and the romance was loving and sweet. The characters were strong, but sensitive. The two lead characters were really meant for each other. One of my favorites featuring a Cynster connection as the lead character.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    A Thesaurus isn't that expensive-- Get one

    Horrible, horrible. This turned out to be a poorly-written, sloppy, trashy 5-cent romance novel. The author loves the words 'glory' (which she tosses in enough times to rob the word of any meaning) and 'evocative' (which she manages to use about 5 times in 2 pages). Ugh, get a thesaurus already! So, the plot: a famous painter, Gerrard, is to paint a 23-year-old woman, Jacqueline, and, by way of the painting, prove that she is innocent of both her mother's and her fiancé¿s murders. Ridiculous. Of course, said girl and guy fall hopelessly in love within days, and the painter knows she is 'the one,' and vice versa. Everyone thinks she's guilty, even her dad! Oh, also, the painter and his friend work with the lady and her aunt to conduct a whisper campaign, persuading the public to change their minds about her guilt in the murders. It's so silly. They show up at a bunch of balls and afternoon teas, and say, 'No, it wasn't J. We've concluded it was someone who was in love with J!' like they're just dishing about the latest in Paris fashions. So weird. And, if we're supposed to believe that this is set in the 1800's, then, why is this unmarried lady allowed in the painter's presence alone, why are they allowed to wander through the gardens for hours on end, unsupervised, and how does she make so many midnight visits to the painter's bedchamber without being reported to her father by servants?? It's too unbelievable. Don't go here. Incredibly lame.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2006

    It's not that bad

    After reading the other reviews I was tempted to skip this book - but as I've become hooked by the connections to the family in Ms. Laurens other books, I took a chance. I am glad I did. Yes, the 'Truth in Great Art' idea stretches things, but the characters and methods used are true to themselves and their times. The power of rumor and assumption in Regency society did rule people lives. So while we find, as did Barnaby, the assumption of guilt by implication ridiculous, Ms. Laurens paints a picture (pun intended) that allows the assumption to stand as a believable backdrop to the story. It's one of the reasons why I read Regency in the first place. Understanding the restrictions of Society at that time, reading how characters can find love, respect and happiness within the dramatic confines the writers concoct. If you like Stephanie Laurens' other books, read this too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2006

    In need of oxygen?

    While there was a passable mystery woven into the story the romance between between Gerrard and Jacqueline left too much to be desired. A Respiratory Therapist would not have been out of place had one been available in that time period. The author used 'lung seizing' and breaths that 'stopped-started-squeaked-were shallow-non-existant-were huge intakes-small intakes-barely audible intakes-shuddering ones'-well you get the drift.I guess you can't win them all but I was so looking forward to more Cynster reads.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2005



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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2005


    Even though most of the other readers did not give this a good review, I figured I should give it a chance, based on the quality of Laurens' other Cynster novels. I am VERY sorry I did. As I write this review, I am about three quarters of the way through this book and can hardly make myself continue with it. First and foremost, I have trouble with the story. It's pretty far-fetched to think a painter (Gerard) would be hired because his portrait of Jacqueline would show everyone she is innocent. Come on. And once it becomes obvious they are romantically involved, what does that do to Gerard's credibility as far as how he paints her? Of course, he'll make her look innocent if he is involved with her. And we're supposed to believe it's reasonable that everyone in her town is going to see the completed portrait and go, 'Oh, I can't believe we thought she was guilty this whole time...she looks so innocent in her portrait, she just has to be innocent!' Laurens should have given Gerard a different career (like Barnaby's hobby of being a crime fighter) and it would have been more believeable for Jacqueline's family to summon Gerard. If you can get past the far-fetched plotline the next thing you have to overcome is the fact that there is really no tension between the two main characters from the start...they pretty much like each other right off the bat. I think one of the other reviewers hit the nail on the head when they suggested maybe Laurens has gone too far trying to write books about the Cynster extended family. Once the main Cynsters had their stories, Laurens should have moved on to something else. Although, the Bastion Club books have been no better. This book was painful to read -- do yourself a favor and skip it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2005

    A Little Unbelievable

    Not that great. My biggest objection is the fact that Jacqueline, a 23 year old virgin, has this torrid affair with Gerrard, but seems geniuinely 'surprised' when his family seems to think they will marry. She claims it never occurred to her. I really don't believe a young well brought up woman of that era would NOT think of marriage to a man she's sleeping with. A little bit unbelievable. It was at this point I closed the book and went on to another one. It just didn't hold my interest after that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2005

    Not her best work

    I love most of the books in this series, but I feel like the author is really stretching it with this one. The mystery is predictable, the love scenes are a little boring and the author seems to be increasingly relying on 'lungs seizing' to create sexual tension. I find myself wondering how long it will be until the same exact descriptive terms are used for the same exact things in every book. I love the Cynster's but Ms. Lauren's may have run out of good ideas for their boring extended family. I hope the next Bastion club novel is a little more clever.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2005

    Ok, but not her best

    Stephanie Laurens has written a surprisingly good mystery story here, and there is a love story there, too. It seems a little secondary to the mystery, though. This book doesn't have the sexually-charged erotic scenes I have always liked about Ms Lauren's books. The last few books she's written have also seemed to have a lot of very choppy prose. It just isn't as readable (editing?) as some of the earlier works. Way too many commas! Sometimes I'd read a 4 line paragraph and realize it was all one sentence and I had to re-read to figure it out. I hope the next Bastion Club book is better!

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