The Truth about Love (Cynster Series)

The Truth about Love (Cynster Series)

by Stephanie Laurens

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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, protégé 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060505769
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/31/2006
Series: Cynster Series , #12
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 184,666
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Stephanie Laurens, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career when her novels about the masterful Cynster cousins captivated readers, making her one of the romance world's most beloved and popular authors. She subsequently introduced the equally unforgettable members of the Bastion Club, as well as several other series. Currently living outside Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and two cats, she has been writing historical romance novels in her signature "Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen" style for more than twenty years.

Matthew Brenher, originally from London, now lives in Los Angeles. His theatrical background includes performances in no fewer than twenty Shakespearean productions, including Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo in Romeo & Juliet, and the title role in Henry V. In Los Angeles, he played Claudius in Hamlet, Cassio in Othello, Antony in Antony & Cleopatra, Antipholous of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors, and Orsino in Twelfth Night. Other theater includes: Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Trigorin in The Seagull, Alistair in Shaw's The Millionairess, Jerry in Pinter's Betrayal, the title role in Dracula, and George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for which he was awarded best performance by a lead actor/drama by Stage Scene LA 2009-2010. He's performed in new plays, most recently in A Bitter Fruit for Palestine, Vulcan in Love's Mistress at the famous Globe theater in London, and Petko in an acclaimed production of The Mapletree Game. On television, he played "Mad" Marcus for six months in the now defunct British soap Brookside. Other television includes: Rules of Engagement, Bodyguards, The Blind Date, Starhunter, The Grid, Eastenders, and Nostradamus. Films include Execution, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Stay Shy, and The Boy Who would Be King. He works in commercials and industrials and is an accomplished voice-over artist.

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.

Table of Contents


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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Truth about Love (Cynster Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 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.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gerrard Debbington is ruing the day he allowed his sister to exhibit his portrait of his nephews. Since then he's received many requests for his services, none as strange as the one from Lord Tregonning. Tregonning has a garden Gerrard has always wanted to see and paint, his price is a portrait of his daughter, Jacqueline, a portrait that could prove or disprove her innocence. She is accused of murder and rumour has her guilty.It's a fun read, light and fluffy but fun. Gerrard and Jacqueline are great characters and their love for each other is obvious and touching. I guessed most of the plot moments from quite early on but the path is good, a little slow occasionally but good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Typical Cynster book with a nice little twist at the end.
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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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