It's been a few years since I've read any historical romance, mainly because quite a bit of what is written lately seems to be short on detail and long on purple prose. But when I saw this novel by Mary Balogh, I decided I'd give it a try since a couple of my book twins really enjoy her work (and I know how picky they are). After finishing A Secret Affair this afternoon, I can say without reservation that this was indeed an enjoyable escapist read, perfect for a sunny day on a porch swing.
The storyline for A Secret Affair is pretty standard: After a year spent mourning her much older husband, the Duchess of Dunbarton is back for the London Season and is determined to take a lover of her choosing. Enter Constantine Huxtable, general rake and equal cynist when it comes to the idea of love. Neither one wants a long term relationship, though both harbor secrets that keep their hearts locked up. Naturally they fall in love despite themselves with minor missteps along the way and the discovery of what is truly important in life.
A Secret Affair is well written and fun, and Ms. Balogh has a very engaging style that allows you to get inside the heads of her characters and understand their actions (however stubborn they might be). She unveils the layers slowly and yet still manages to give a good sense of the time period and its restrictions. Perfectly light and yet thoughtful, I found myself smiling as the story drew to its predictable close. Though A Secret Affair is the final book of a series, I'm intrigued enough with the style and depth of this writer to go back and read from the first to see what I've missed. I have a feeling I've discovered an author I'm going to be enjoying for a long time to come.