The Truth about Love (Cynster Series)

The Truth about Love (Cynster Series)

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by Stephanie Laurens
     
 

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Bold, passionate and possessive, the Cynster men let nothing stand in their way when it comes to claiming the women of their hearts.

Gerrard Debbington, Vane Cynster's brother-in-law, is one of London's most eligible gentlemen. Uninterested in marriage, his driving passion is to paint the fabled gardens of Lord Tregonning's Hellebore

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Overview

Bold, passionate and possessive, the Cynster men let nothing stand in their way when it comes to claiming the women of their hearts.

Gerrard Debbington, Vane Cynster's brother-in-law, is one of London's most eligible gentlemen. Uninterested in marriage, his driving passion is to paint the fabled gardens of Lord Tregonning's Hellebore Hall -- an opportunity that is now at hand...if Gerrard agrees to create an honest portrait of Tregonning's daughter as well.

Gerrard chafes at wasting his talents on some simpering miss, only to discover that Jacqueline Tregonning stirs him as no other. Certainly, she is beautiful, but it is her passionate nature that strikes sparks with Gerrard's own, igniting desire and sweeping them into each other's arms, convincing Gerrard that he has found his ideal soul mate -- the lady he must have as his wife.

But something is horribly wrong at Hellebore Hall. Evil and lies are reaching out to ensnare Jacqueline -- and Gerrard will have to move Heaven and Earth to protect the remarkable woman who, for him, personifies the truth about love...

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Editorial Reviews

bn.com
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061754838
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Series:
Cynster Series , #12
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
37,612
File size:
2 MB

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Read an Excerpt

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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Meet the Author

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science, a hobby that quickly became a career. Her novels set in Regency England have captivated readers around the globe, making her one of the romance world's most beloved and popular authors.

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Truth about Love (Cynster Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
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RRPNC More than 1 year ago
Excellent book and very enjoyable series!!  Recommend Very Highly!!
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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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