Seducing an Angel Hardcover – May 19 2009
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“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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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).
(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!
In Seducing an Angel the only Huxtable son, Stephen, now of age, and in full possession of the estates and wealth of the Earl of Merton, is happily spending his time being a rake about town in London. His sisters have all married, and busy raising families of their own, but Stephen doesn't feel any great need to set up his own family. At least not yet.
Nearby, a young widow, Cassandra, Lady Paget is finding herself hovering on the edge of ruin. Scandal over her former husband's death has haunted her, and as the money that she did have has completely run out, she is forced to make a desperate decision. To support her small household, she intends to become a wealthy man's mistress. Her companion, Alice Haytor is horrified, and tries to talk her out of this rash decision -- but Cassandra is determined. And she intends to go about her goal in a rather cold-blooded, very businesslike way.
First, she goes forth on a casual walk in Hyde Park, looking over the fashionable men, hoping that her disguise of widow's veils will give her some cover. Then she crashes a Society gathering, and meets Stephen, Lord Merton. They're both very much attracted to each other, and Cassandra seduces him, taking him home and bedding him, and then coolly laying out her side of the business arrangement.
Interestingly enough, Stephen accepts the offer -- but soon changes the terms of the deal. He wants all of Cassandra, not just the seductive parts. Cassandra isn't too certain of this deal, but agrees to it, if only for the sake of the money. After this, it's pretty much a given that the couple will fall in love and marry.
Sigh. I knew there was something too good about this story. I was hoping for something more, especially from an author of Ms. Balogh's caliber, but here, she drags out nearly every single cliché in the historical romance genre and then sucks whatever vitality there might have been in it. I can handle one or two clichés in a novel, but here, it goes on endlessly, along with many visits from the Coincidence Fairy.
The first time that Cassandra and Stephen are in bed together is one of the most bloodless, chilly encounters in romantic prose that it would be enough to turn anyone off of sex, for good. The second time they're in bed together isn't that interesting either. Toss in the fact that Cassandra is one icy person, especially in her pursuit of being a mistress, that it just grated to read about her -- she might be conniving, but I could have handled that if it wasn't for the fact that Ms. Balogh tossed in every single rotten cliché into the mix. You get the devoted servants, ugly dead husband with all of the emotional trauma attached, a child that seems to have no parents, and to cap it all off -- a crippled, loveable dog.
I came pretty close to hurling this book through the wall at the midpoint of this story, but grit my teeth and soldiered on. The story continued to meander along, and when it finally ground on to a close, all of the conflicts were resolved, everyone was happily settled, and I was left feeling very disappointed. Mary Balogh can write so much better than this claptrap, and to be honest, should have taken the time to do a proper job of it and make her characters not so two dimensional and a bit more sympathetic.
While I can honestly say that I gave this an honest chance, it's not a book that I would read again. The quality of the writing is decent and fairly good, but the plot devices are so hackneyed that there is little here to save the book from mediocrity. I say, skip it, and stay with Ms. Balogh's older novels, they're more interesting and better written.
Three stars, and not recommended.