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A Secret Love (Cynster Series)

A Secret Love (Cynster Series)

4.4 125
by Stephanie Laurens

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And now, Stephanie Laurens has created her boldest Cynster yet - Gabriel - a man who has known the pleasure of many women, but who has given his heart to no one.

She was desperate for his help...

When a mysterious lady, her face hidden by a black veil, begs Gabriel Cynster for his help, he cannot refuse her plea. For


And now, Stephanie Laurens has created her boldest Cynster yet - Gabriel - a man who has known the pleasure of many women, but who has given his heart to no one.

She was desperate for his help...

When a mysterious lady, her face hidden by a black veil, begs Gabriel Cynster for his help, he cannot refuse her plea. For despite her disguise, Gabriel finds the woman alluring and he is powerless to deny her. But he exacts payment as only a Cynster would demand: with each piece of information he uncovers, she must pay him - in the form of a kiss.

He was powerless to resist...

Lady Alathea Morwellan knows Gabriel is intrigued, but despite the sparks that fly between them, they have never passed a civil moment together. Yet as the stakes get higher, so does Gabriel′s desire for payment. And with each overpowering kiss, each passionate embrace, Alathea knows that she will not be able to resist his ultimate seduction...but what will happen when she reveals the truth?

Editorial Reviews

Tina Engler
A Secret Love, the fifth book in the Bar Cynster series, is well worth the wait. For those of you that have never read any of this novel's predecessors, let me give you the Cliff Notes version update: "Bar Cynster" is the term that has been bestowed upon six handsome, rakish men of the haute ton's Cynster family in Regency era London. All six gentlemen have vowed never to marry. When Devil Cynster, the Duke of St. Ives, falls in love with and marries Honoria

Anstruther-Wetherby (Devil's Bride), the men of the clan fear that Devil's curse will catch up with them. And of course, it does. This time around, the curse catches up to Gabriel.

Thirty-year-old Gabriel Cynster is intrigued by the mysterious, veiled countess from the moment they first meet, so when she calls upon him to aid her in a quest that will keep a cutthroat swindler from bilking away all that remains of her family's estate, he is powerless to deny her, or the attraction he carries for her. Wanting the mystery woman to reveal her identity to him of her own volition, Gabriel allows her to skirt around the issue of who she really is while he expertly entangles her in a Cynster-spun web of seduction.

He will do as the countess asks and find the pieces of information she needs to clear her family of its debts, but each time Gabriel unravels a new piece of information, he will also exact a payment from her...in the form of innocent kisses at first, but more intimate acts as their relationship progresses.

Gabriel can't understand what it is about the countess that sets her apart from the women in his past, but he quickly realizes that, unlike any of his previous mistresses, she can stir his emotions as well as his body. In fact, there is only one other woman that has ever been able to get under Gabriel's skin, and she was more of a pariah than a blessing; she is a prickly spinster named Alathea who has been a close friend of the family for years, and Gabriel's longtime nemesis. Thankfully, the countess is nothing like Alathea, or so Gabriel tells himself...

At twenty-nine, Lady Alathea Morwellan is the matriarch and backbone of her father's earldom. The earl has an unfortunate propensity for getting himself into financial straits, so he's lucky to have a daughter with a proclivity for getting him out of them. Only this time, Alathea fears she won't be able to save the family's finances. There is only one man she knows of who is powerful and connected enough to stop the Morwellan family's inevitable ruin, but her pride and fear of being turned away keep Alathea from accosting Gabriel Cynster directly. Instead, she concocts an elaborate charade and reveals herself only as a mysterious, shrouded countess to the man whose presence has plagued her for years. To Alathea, it seemed the perfect, harmless scheme -- until, of course, she discovers what it feels like to be seduced by a Cynster...

I have always been a sucker for the nemeses-turned-lovers scenario penned by an author who truly knows her craft. This is probably because the protagonists' initial relationship sets the stage for humorous dialogue, witty exchanges, and love scenes that can, when properly developed, turn your brain to mush. A Secret Love does not disappoint. Gabriel and Alathea are a very entertaining and endearing couple, and their long history together adds a poignantly emotional element to the mix.

Another plus for A Secret Love is that the mystery angle of the novel is interesting, believable, and well executed. Far too often in romance, readers are obliged to endure extremely boring "who dunnit" subplots that every writer weaves into their stories these days (whether or not they happen to be any good at them). This is not the case with Gabriel and Alathea's quest to save her family's estate...Ms. Laurens did an excellent job of adding a little intrigue without going overboard and focusing too much on the mystery.

The book's ending points to the fact that Lucifer, the sixth and final member of Bar Cynster, will get caught by the curse next. But who will come after Lucifer? It looks like it will be Chillingworth, the handsome rake of an earl who plays a minor but titillating role throughout the entire series, and a tellingly significant role in A Secret Love. So don't lose hope Bar Cynster fans...it looks as if there are still a few more stories to come.
The Romance Reader
Kathe Robin
There's lots of passionate, hot love scenes (including one with the characters relying on their senses, making love in total darkness), plenty of excitement (kidnappings), horrible villains and Ms. Laurens's special brand of wit to more than satisfy her fans and have them eager for the next cynster.
Romantic Times

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Cynster Series , #5
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

May 6, 1820London

Swirls of mist wreathed Gabriel Cynster's shoulders as he prowled the porch of St. Georges' Church, just off Hanover Square. The air was chill, the gloom within the porch smudged here and there by weak shafts of fight thrown by the street lamps.

It was three o'clock; fashionable London lay sleeping. The coaches ferrying late-night revelers home had ceased to rumble-an intense but watchful quiet had settled over the town.

Reaching the end of the porch, Gabriel swung around. Eyes narrowed, he scanned the stone tunnel formed by the front of the church and the tall columns supporting its facade. The mist eddied and swirled, obscuring his view. He'd stood in the same place a week before, watching Demon, one of his cousins, drive off with his new wife. He'd felt a sudden chill -- a premonition, a presentiment; perhaps it had been of this.

Three o'clock in the porch of St. Georges-that was what the note had said. He'd been half inclined to set it aside, a poor joke assuredly, but something in the words had tweaked an impulse more powerful than curiosity. The note had been penned in desperation, although, despite close analysis, he couldn't see why he was so sure of that. The mysterious countess, whoever she was, had written simply and directly requesting this meeting so she could explain her need for his aid.

So he was here -- where was she?

On the thought, the city's bells tolled, the reverberations stirring the heavy blanket of the night. Not all the belltowers tolled the night watches; enough did to set up a strange cadence, a pattern of sound repeated in different registers.The muted notes faded, then died. Silence, again, descended.

Gabriel stirred. Impatient, he started back along the porch, his stride slow, easy.

And she appeared, stepping from the deep shadows about the church door. Mist clung to her skirts as she turned, slowly, regally, to face him. She was cloaked and veiled, as impenetrable, secret, and mysterious as the night.

Gabriel narrowed his eyes. Had she been there all along? Had he walked past her without seeing or sensing her presence? His stride unfaltering, he continued toward her. She lifted her head as he neared, but only slightly.

She was very tall. Halting with only a foot between them, Gabriel discovered he couldn't see over her head, which was amazing. He stood well over six feet tall; the countess had to be six feet tall herself. Despite the heavy cloak, one glance had been enough to assure him all her six feet were in perfect proportion.

"Good morning, Mr. Cynster. Thank you for coming."

He inclined his head, jettisoning any wild thought that this was some witless prank -- a youth dressed as a woman. The few steps she'd taken, the way she'd turned -- to his experienced senses, her movements defined her as female. And her tone was soft and low, the very essence of woman.

A mature woman-she was definitely not young.

"Your note said you needed my help."

"I do." After a moment, she added, "My family does."

"Your family?" In the gloom, her veil was impenetrable; he couldn't see even a hint of her chin or her lips.

"My stepfamily, I should say."

Her perfume reached him, exotic, alluring. "Perhaps we'd better define just what your problem is, and why you think I can help."

"You can help. I would never have asked to meet youwould never reveal what I'm about to tell you -- if I didn't know you could help." She paused, then drew breath. "My problem concerns a promissory note signed by my late husband."

"Late husband?"

She inclined her head. "I'm a widow."

"How long ago did your husband die?"

"Over a year ago."

"So his estate has been probated."

Yes. The title and entailed estate are now with my stepson, Charles."


"I was my husband's second wife. We were married some years ago -- for him, it was a very late second marriage. He was ill for some time before his death. All his children were by his first wife."

He hesitated, then asked, "Am I to understand that you've taken your late husband's children under your wing?"

"Yes. I consider their welfare my responsibility. It's because of that -- them -- that I'm seeking your aid."

Gabriel studied her veiled countenance, knowing she was watching his. "You mentioned a promissory note."

"I should explain that my husband had a weakness for engaging in speculative ventures. Over his last years, the family's agent and I endeavored to keep his investments in such schemes to a minimum, in which endeavors we were largely successful. However, three weeks ago, a maid stumbled on a legal paper, tucked away and clearly forgotten. It was a promissory note."

"To which company?"

"The Central East Africa Gold Company. Have you heard Of it?"

He shook his head. "Not a whisper."

"Neither has our agent, nor any of his colleagues."

"The company's address should be on the note."

"It's not -- just the name of the firm of solicitors who drew up the document."

Gabriel juggled the pieces of the jigsaw she was handing him, aware each piece had been carefully vetted first. "This note -- do you have it?"

From beneath her cloak, she drew out a rolled parchment.

Taking it, Gabriel inwardly raised his brows-she'd certainly come prepared. Despite straining his eyes, he'd caught not a glimpse of the gown beneath her voluminous cloak. Her hands, too, were covered, encased in leather gloves long enough to reach the cuffs of her sleeves. Unrolling the parchment, he turned so the light from the street lamps fell on the single page.

The promissor's signature -- the first thing he looked at -- was covered by a piece of thick paper fixed in place with sealing wax. He looked at the countess.

Calmly, she stated, "You don't need to know the family's name."

A Secret Love. Copyright © by Stephanie Laurens. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Linda Howard
All I need is her name on the cover to make me buy the book! —Linda Howard
Lisa Kleypas
Her lush sensuality takes my breath away! —Lisa Kleypas

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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Secret Love (Cynster Series) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 125 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1820, the promissory note shook Alathea Morwellan to the bone. Apparently, her business-dumb father, the Earl of Meredith agreed to remit an amount worth more than his earldom for a percentage of the profits garnered by the Central East Africa Gold Company. Having been the brains behind the success of the earldom for the past eleven years, Alathea refuses to idly await disaster on something that smells of fraud.

Alathea decides to wear a veil to hide her identity and obtain help from someone she can trust to remain discreet in case he learns who she is. She turns to her childhood foe Gabriel Cynster, who has a reputation of assisting ladies in trouble for a price. Gabriel charges her with a kiss every time he assists her. As he works to uncover the identity of the con artist(s), Gabriel and Alathea find their kisses turning more passionate each time. Love begins to blossom, even as he tries to uncover the identity of the woman he now plans to marry.

A SECRET LOVE is an entertaining Regency romance that will thrill sub-genre fans due to its competent and ardent lead protagonists. The extended families of the two stars magnify the story line by providing depth to plot and to the protagonists. Stephanie Laurens' fifth Cynster tale is another triumph in a series that shows why the era is so cherished by readers.

Harriet Klausner

omastigia More than 1 year ago
Of all the excellent Cynster books (and a few not so excellent), the story of Alathea and Gabriel's romance is the one worth reading. Alathea's family is living in genteel poverty, barely scraping by until a servant finds a document hidden in the house. She turns to her childhood friend, Gabriel Cynster for help- sort of. This book is full of humor, romance, lust - everything a good romance novel should have, with the added attraction of being one (in my opinion the best) in an excellent series of books.
Broolix More than 1 year ago
I read this book straight on and fell in love with the author. The characters are colorful and quite real. It was very easy to slip into the moment, identify with the heroine and keep turning the pages. And I laughed a lot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well I am glad to say that the books in this series definitely seem to get better as the series progresses. This book was good, with characters who actually say 'I love you' without it having to be forced out of them (well, at least less than in other books in the series). I didn't really like the whole 'countess' plot, and would have rather had Gabriel fall in love with Alathea before he found out that she WAS the countess, but everything still turned out alright. I would recommend this book to others, but I would NOT recommend the entire series to others (just start with book #4 - A Rogue's Proposal, if you want to read more than one book in the series).
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a big fans of Lauren's later works, starting with Devil's Bride, but this is her best. The characters are richly developed, the plot is great and the love scenes are too hot for words.
Guest More than 1 year ago
She writes the best romance novels that I have ever read. After everyone has gone to bed, it's my turn to be swept away, in history. Thank you!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved the book. There is not much more to say but read it.
Anonymous 6 months ago
This is the best of the Bar-Cynster series
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A 310 page 1820's English romance book and the 5th in series of a 29 year old woman who has put herself 'on the shelf' for the sake of her family and now perpetrates a masquerade to further an investigation by an old childhood friend, a Cynster male, Gabriel. Duplicity, scandal, treachery, angst, drama, mystery, explicit seduction scenes, family intrigue, and romance. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best one of all of Laurens' Cynster series. I've read them all, but keep coming back to this one repeatedly.
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RRPNC More than 1 year ago
Great story/book!!  Great series!!  Recommend Very Highly!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book. Highly recommend. Sweet, passionate and loved the characters.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very entertaining and enjoyable
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pianotshr More than 1 year ago
I have read all of the Cynster novels and enjoyed each one for different reasons. The characters, their strengths, skills and their compassion and love of family. A must read if you enjoy historical romantic novels. You will get hooked on this series.