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Seducing an Angel [Hardcover]

Mary Balogh
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 19 2009
In a time unlike any other, a family you’ll never forget . . . Meet the Huxtables—three headstrong sisters and their dashing brother—each searching for love that’s always a shocking indiscretion away. . . . In her magnificent new novel, New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh sweeps us into a world of scandal and intrigue—glittering Regency England—and introduces the youngest Huxtable: Stephen, the only son. Here Stephen will risk his reputation and his heart as he enters a scandalous liaison with the infamous beauty intent on seduction. But when passion turns the tables on them both, who can say who has seduced whom?

He must be wealthy, wellborn, and want her more than he wants any other woman. Those are the conditions that must be met by the man Cassandra Belmont chooses for her lover. Marriage is out of the question for the destitute widow who stands accused of murdering her husband and must now barter her beauty in order to survive. With seduction in mind, she sets her sights on Stephen Huxtable, the irresistibly attractive Earl of Merton and London’s most eligible bachelor. But Stephen’s first intriguing glimpse of the mysterious, alluring Lady Paget convinces him that he has found the ideal woman to share his bed. There is only one caveat. This relationship fueled by mutual pleasure must be on his terms.

As the two warily circle each other in a sensual dance of attack and retreat, a single night of passion alters all the rules. Cassandra, whose reputation is already in tatters, is now in danger of losing the one thing she vowed never to give. And Stephen, who wants Cassandra more than he has ever wanted any woman, won’t rest until she has surrendered everything—not as his mistress—but as his lover and wife. . . .

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Review

“With her inimitable, brilliantly nuanced sense of characterization, elegantly sensual style, and droll wit, Balogh…[delivers] another addictively readable addition to her Huxtable family series.”—Booklist, starred review

“Tender, sultry, and thoroughly satisfying.... Balogh has added another jewel to her collection.”—Library Journal, starred review

About the Author

Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Slightly novels: Slightly Married, Slightly Wicked, Slightly Scandalous, Slightly Tempted, Slightly Sinful, and Slightly Dangerous, as well as the romances No Man’s Mistress, More than a Mistress, and One Night for Love. She is also the author of Simply Love, Simply Unforgettable, Simply Magic, and Simply Perfect, her dazzling quartet of novels set at Miss Martin’s School for Girls. A former teacher herself, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacked the Spark that the others had... May 6 2010
Format:Paperback
As soon as this book came out I rushed out and bought it from a local book store. I love this series and thought this book was going to be just as good. I loved Stephen in all the previous books but I found him unlikable in this story. As for his love interest, I found her reasons understandable but she too was unlikable. I didn't really feel the chemistry between the too. Overall I wasn't impressed with the book. It had it's moments but overall it's so far the only one in the series I wont read again.

Though now I wait impatiently for Cons and I hope his doesn't disappoint. I found his moments some of the best in this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  61 reviews
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book about hope May 20 2009
By Marcy L. Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you really stop to look at it, all four of the Huxtable books are about hope. The salient feature of the four Huxtable siblings is that they all believe in love, not just the kind that often fills romance novels, but the kind that makes hard choices and lives with the consequences because, as Meg says in the third book, "That's what love does when it must."

In order to create a plot, of course, Mary Balogh has to pair these realistic yet determined optimists with people who have been betrayed by love. It is a testament to her skill as a writer that she does so in a way that is believable. And all four of the love interests are already gritty, strong, loving people. They just don't realize it. They are all survivors, however, and Cassandra is like Duncan (in At Last Comes Love) in that she knows she loves the people she loves. She just has been so badly hurt that she doesn't believe she can risk being married ever again.

And so she sets out to protect the people she does love in the only way she knows how, which leads her to seduce Stephen, Earl of Merton. The youngest Huxtable is stronger than she knows, and considerably more than she allows herself to believe she deserves. They sleep together too soon, and they both know it, on some level. Then they spend the rest of the book going back and fighting through the detritus of Cassandra's past to find their way to loving one another.

It's a very good book. Some of the subplots are tied up too easily (I wanted to punch Cassandra's brother myself, and while her restraint when he finally showed up again was useful in teaching her something about herself, his willingness to slide back into his old role without a more credible apology left me angry at him).

Aside from the Epilogue (which had me in tears, I admit), the book ends in a way very similar to how the first book (First Comes Marriage) starts, with Constantine in the family graveyard, talking to his dead brother. This full-circle treatment makes it very clear how interconnected the stories are. Unlike some of her other series, where Mary Balogh seems to just be working her way through a collection of characters, all of whom deserve to have their own happy endings, this collection of books seems to be a more coherent series, with a larger message about love, and hope, and human resilience.

I have high hopes for Constantine's story, whenever it comes. In the meantime, these four books about the Huxtable siblings will give me plenty of rereading pleasure.

I do think that it's worth reading these four books in order.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All together are better than any single title in the quartet separately May 21 2009
By Virginia E. Demarce - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Each of the books in the Huxtable quartet improves the series, in that each gives further depth to the characters as they appeared in the earlier books. At Last Comes Love, for example, explained the reason for some of Meg's attitudes and actions that just appeared to be excessively annoying in the first two titles of the series.

Stephen is a wonderful hero. I'm so tired of tortured, angsty, heroes. It's wonderful to find one who's deepest levels are the same as what appears on the surface, only more so.

I'd give this title an A-. It would be an A (there were a couple of places where I had tears in my elderly eyes) except for some of the vocabulary.

Over the more-than-a-quarter-century that I've been reading Balogh's regencies, I've noticed that she has an increasing tendency to have the protagonists think to themselves in modern psychobabble ("victim mentality" anyone?).

It's not that people in the regency era wouldn't have experienced these feelings and meditated about them. It's just that they wouldn't have used these words to the purpose, so there's the reason for the point off.

Otherwise, I'm anxiously awaiting the 5th book (Constantine Huxtable).
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad Continuity; People are Too Stupid to Live (TSTL) May 11 2010
By Margaret P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The premise on the back cover sounds fun: a woman in desperate financial straights decides to become a mistress. The implementation is appallingly poor. The leading man struck me as a wimp and a push-over. The book reads like a rough draft. Here are some examples of the poor continuity and people who are TSTL. A word of warning: this list includes some spoilers.

(1) Lord P-- commits suicide in a room with four witnesses (his wife Lady P--, his younger son W--, a servant M--, and Lady P--'s companion A--) by shooting himself in the chest. People look at Lord P--'s corpse and conclude that that his wife murdered him by hitting him in the head with an axe, and yet they do not call the constable. None of the witnesses say anything that would contradict the "murdered by his wife with an axe" story.
(2) Lord P--'s eldest son, G--, likewise believes the "murderd by his wife with an axe" story. He doesn't talk to the witnesses (including his brother, who may or may not have attended the funeral). G-- is appalled that Lady P-- got away with murder but likewise doesn't call the constable like a sensible person would..instead he forces her to agree to give up her jewelry, income, and houses. Lady P-- agrees to this because the constable and judges in her world are so TSTL that she is convinced they would look at the evidence, talk to the witnesses, and find her guilty.
(3) M-- is an unmarried mom with a small child for the majority of the book. Toward the end, she is suddenly married, to W--, and has been since before Lord P--'s death. No explanation is given; this appears to simply be bad continuity. If you accept the "married" assumption, then none of M--'s or W--'s actions throughout the book make any sense whatsoever.
(4) W-- vanishes into thin air immediately following his father's death, then appears toward the end of the book "returning from Canada". No one thinks it odd that he abandoned his wife and small child to starve. No one thinks it odd that neither W-- nor M-- mentioned that they were married.
(5) When W-- says that Lord P-- had committed suicide, and everyone (including G--) immediately believes him. G-- does not think it strange that W-- failed to mention this earlier.
(6) When lady P-- is thrown into the street with no means of support, she rents an expensive house (fully furnished) in London, taking A-- and M-- with her. Lady P-- at that point has enough money for a down payment, and to live comfortably for quite some time. All three women are supposedly going to "search for jobs", but this apparently does not include a M-- looking for another job as a servant (her previous job) nor A-- looking for a job as a companion/governess (her previous job); and no explanation is given why accused murderer Lady P-- thinks that someone would hire her for a prestigous job that could pay for the fancy town house.
(7) The first thing Lady P-- does in the novel is to go to a fancy ball, being held by Lord S--. Lord S-- has a scandelous past that he is trying to convince people to forget for the sake of his new wife. So when accused murderer Lady P-- shows up uninvited, Lord S-- dances with her, thus further tarnishing his reputation.
(8) Lady P-- and her soon to be lover Earl M-- openly leave the ball together in his coach (no chaperone), go to her house, and spend the night. Earl M-- leaves in the morning well past the point when many neighbors and servants are up and about. Despite this and other obvious behavior, no one in London notices that Lady P-- is Earl M--'s mistress.
(9) Lord P-- beats Lady P-- so badly that she miscarries all four of her pregnancies. Yet when she hears a woman scream in the same room as Lord P--, Lady P-- runs toward the room.
(10) When Lord P-- finds out that his son W-- married a servant (M--), he is so upset that he tries to murder either M-- or W-- (unclear to me). When W-- blocks the shot, Lord P-- commits suicide. This makes no sense, and no reason is ever given.

Save your money!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Find your copy at the library June 9 2010
By E.K. Irish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is simply so-so. Balogh is really focusing on bringing her heroines into a more independent light, and I personally don't like it. This book is no exception. Yet again, the heroine seems destitute and throughout the book she begins to grow a spine. But as she develops independence and self-awarenes, the relationship (to me) suffers. The book suddenly becomes more about how the heroine can stand on her own, overcome her past, and attain freedom rather than about her love for the hero and what happiness that future would hold for her. I don't understand why so many of Balogh's heroines of late seem to have the conundrum of love vs. freedom. I guess it's my domestic, brain-washed self that sees that being more a male stigma than a lady's (especially in the regency era!). The whole Huxtable series, to me, is rather bland. And, sadly I'm simply going to stop reading Balogh until she writes something with the earth-shattering connection between two characters rather than two characters who think that "maybe this could work" in the last couple chapters of the book.

Thank goodness I got this from the library. You should too, and if you like it then you can shell out the money. But make sure it's worth it first.

On a side note, I am so tired of her overuse of italics. Enough already.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the hardbook price, but kindle savings is GRAND! May 19 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've read a few reviews of my favorite historical authors and wondered if the reviewer was reading the same book. Then I considered what perhaps a reader was expecting in a historical novel. I enjoy the fabric of the romance, and Mary Balogh has always delivered luxurious material for loyal readers. It's not erotica, if you're expecting just sex, you'll be disappointed. There is a swirl of rich environment creating a sensual repast. This is also no mean feat with the titillation available for todays reader. I grew up with fine work available, Georgette Heyer is a good example of an author who could give you a romantic story filled with wit and wisdom and the mores of the day. Now I believe all my favorite authors have an allowance to add more sensual love scenes with the mores of today. Still I really enjoy the romance of the story, the fabric which good authors fill out my favorite characters. And if a few are too good to be true, well so much the better. Because Mary Balogh did give me The Golden Earl. Now with such a Angel, the heroine was going to come into any story at a distinct disadvantage, I mean who was going to be good enough for Stephen? Ah, but Mary has the wit to find Cassandra for him. Wickedly, good sense, in my humble opinion. A poignant love story was a perfect way for me to spend a quiet day off from a busy 40 hour work week. Um, I also hear mention that a new character isn't like a previous one, duh! Now that could disappoint. I reread Mary Balogh books,quite happily, as I am a voracious reader, if I want to read an old story the old booklist is wonderful. But I am so happy with each new offering. Thanks Mary Balogh, another winner!
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