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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Cynster!!
This is the 5th in the Cynster series, and they just keep getting better and better.
This book focuses on Gabriel Cynster and Alathea Morwellan.
Gabriel and Alathea have known each other all their lives, but they find that they can't be in each other's company without arguing, especially about Alathea's cap.
However, Alathea's family has stumbled upon hard...
Published on March 2 2003 by casey_

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars 5th in the series of Bar Cynster books
Gabriel,aka Rupert, is the next in line to get married. At least that's what everyone is saying. His cousin Demon has just gotten married to Flick and now its only Gabriel and his brother Lucifer left of the unmarried Cynsters and they plan to stay that way. That is until Gabriel meets a mysterious woman in a black veil. She needs his help desperately but has taken great...
Published on Jan. 9 2003 by Brenda Condit


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4.0 out of 5 stars One of her better books, May 14 2003
By 
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
I find it amusing that most of the readers including the Amazon.com review call the female protagonist Althea as opposed to Alathea her real name. I guess this mistake indicates how carelessly people read the book and what pulp it truly is.
Having said that, it is good for its genre. I agree with another reviewer who is also relieved that the lead characters are adults (29 & 30) another correction - guess no one is really paying that much attention to the details of this book. I also find it amusing that Alathea is really so imbecilic and continues to have sex with 'Gabriel' and not think about the possibility of scandal through pregnancy. She refuses to marry him after his proposal but somehow you don't get the impression that she is going to stop sleeping with him having already done so many times.
It was one of Laurens' more mature books and I like that. I liked the Alathea's psychosis - she is older, taller and does not think of herself as particularly attractive. She seems a more well-rounded individual than most of Lauren's female lead characters.
Rupert/Gabriel falls into the Alpha-male/hero role and so is not as interesting a character. We are told that he has difficulty in trusting but we don't know why but at least we are spared from the usual line that he is a 'tortured soul'.
I think the sensuality rating is a bit harsh - this is not one of Laurens' truly raunchy reads - it is really quite tame when compared to The Promise In a Kiss or On A Wicked Dawn.
Enjoy it - it's great pulp fiction but careful not to overdose on Laurens as most of her books seem to have the same plotlines.
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2.0 out of 5 stars 'Immaculate Contraception' strikes yet again, March 18 2003
By 
Dr W. Richards "wmr-uk" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
Another Cynster novel, and yet another domineering alpha male paired with an independent-minded female. Now, I *like* independent-minded women, but somehow whenever Laurens writes them, the heroine seems to lose all of her independence and common sense whenever the hero comes into view. Falling in love's one thing, but this is ridiculous!
Okay, so we have, this time, Rupert Cynster, yet another cousin, and this one goes by the nickname Gabriel. Gabriel's big interest is money: investments of the stocks and shares variety. So when he is approached by a woman dressed in black and fully veiled, who introduces herself to him only as The Countess, recently widowed, it's not only his sense of chivalry which is piqued by her request to him to help her family from becoming destitute as the result of a scam.
Under the Countess's disguise is Lady Alathea Morwellan, who is neither a widow nor a countess; she is the daughter of the earl who made the unwise investment. Apparently, she has known Gabriel from childhood, but she chose not to approach him as herself for two reasons. First, she was embarrassed at the thought of revealing the full extent of her family's misfortune to him, and second, she wasn't convinced that he would help if he knew it was her.
This is one aspect of the story which was poorly done. Alathea, Gabriel and his brother Alasdair grew up together, but yet we only discover this a few chapters in; it almost felt as if Laurens had decided to add this element as an afterthought. Gabriel and Alathea's awkwardness around each other felt similarly unconvincing. I can understand buried attraction making them prickly, but this wasn't two people secretly attracted to each other striking sparks whenever they met. This was two people who seemed genuinely to hate each other. And I can't believe that Gabriel, highly experienced lover, doesn't recognise sexual attraction when he encounters it. He's over thirty, for heaven's sake, and he doesn't realise that's why he and Alathea are prickly around each other? Nope, that didn't work for me.
Anyway, Gabriel begins to find out information for the Countess, but insists on claiming a reward for every discovery: a kiss. And so it's not long before things go far beyond kissing. Again, two things strike me as extremely unbelievable here. First, why would Alathea let things go that far? I can't buy the 'carried away by passion' explanation - not even the first time, let alone on subsequent occasions. It didn't make sense for the character as established. And second, yet again, how is it that Laurens' female characters never seem to suffer the consequences of their actions? No precautions are taken, and yet Alathea is supremely blithe in her conviction that nothing will happen.
Another difficulty for me was caused by Laurens' apparent lack of understanding of what 'step-siblings' are; Alathea keeps referring to her step-sisters and brothers, so I assumed - since the Earl was her father - that these were all the children of her stepmother's previous marriage. But no; her 'step-brother' was apparently the Earl's heir. In other words, they were her *half*-siblings. Talk about unnecessary confusion! And why on earth didn't her editor spot this?
Oh, and the discovery of Alathea's identity, when it happened, was just so predictable - Laurens, couldn't you at least have *tried* to make it less obvious to the reader? I felt that I was being bashed over the head with what was about to happen; it was as obvious as those seventies detective series where ominous music plays as the camera pans on a particular scene or item. The discovery would actually have been enjoyable had it come as a surprise, but as it was I was just counting pages until it happened.
There is, as ever, a dramatic plot to the story; it holds the attention for a while but, like most of Laurens' mystery/detective plots, it does tend to take over and get tedious. It's a good means of getting the protagonists to work together, but it did mean that I was flicking quickly through several pages from time to time.
I'm marking time through the rest of the series now, since I already have the books, but have already decided not to bother buying the newest Cynster release. After book after book of repetitive plots, I want some better-written, more varied reading!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Cynster!!, March 2 2003
By 
"casey_" (Perth, Western Australia Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the 5th in the Cynster series, and they just keep getting better and better.
This book focuses on Gabriel Cynster and Alathea Morwellan.
Gabriel and Alathea have known each other all their lives, but they find that they can't be in each other's company without arguing, especially about Alathea's cap.
However, Alathea's family has stumbled upon hard times, and she must turn to someone for help, and who better than Gabriel. But she disguises herself so that he won't recognise her.
It was enjoyable watching these two grow closer and realise that the reason they were always arguing was not because they didn't like each other, but for quite the opposite reason.
I liked seeing Gabriel fall in love with the mysterious 'Countess', his struggle not to try to find who she really was, his decision to marry her even when he didn't know who she was and then what he experienced when he realised that the woman he had fallen in love with was none other than Alathea herself.
This series just keeps getting better and better.
A must read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 5th in the series of Bar Cynster books, Jan. 9 2003
By 
Brenda Condit "satinskper" (Albuquerque, NM USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
Gabriel,aka Rupert, is the next in line to get married. At least that's what everyone is saying. His cousin Demon has just gotten married to Flick and now its only Gabriel and his brother Lucifer left of the unmarried Cynsters and they plan to stay that way. That is until Gabriel meets a mysterious woman in a black veil. She needs his help desperately but has taken great pains to keep her idenity a secret from him. He must never find out that she is old friend/adversary Lady Alathea.
Alathea's family is in trouble. He father has made some bad buisness deal and if Gabriel won't help then all is ruin. Alathea has know Gabriel for years. Sparks fly when they see each other and not sparks of passion. Alathea is "on the shelf" and never thinks someone could want her until Gabriel kisses her. The kiss is magical and both are deeply effected. The only problem Gabriel doesn't know who he has kissed. He believes the mysterious lady in black is a widow.
When all is revealed passions do soar and Gabriel realizes that his bride has been under his nose all his life. He won't give her up and decides to fight for her. Alathea can't believe he wants her and tries to persuade him that she's too old for him. Its a wonderful tug of war to see who will win or if both will.
I enjoyed the banter in this book. The arguments between the h/h were wonderful and made for a funny read. I liked the fact that a heroine, who was over 25, was the love interest. I highly recommend this book and all others in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Of all the Cynsters Gabriel is the best!!!, July 25 2002
By 
Andrea Jayne (Sterling Heights, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
I was first introduced to Stephanie Laurens when I read On a Wild Night and couldn't put it down. In the front of that book is a family tree with a list of the of Cynster books. So I ordered the whole set and loved them all but Gabriel's story was the most touching. Thea is an old friend of the family that was the playmates of Gabriel and Lucifer. She gives up her debut into the ton to save her family and 11 years later must do so again. But instead of asking Gabriel for help she dons a disguise so Gabriel won't know its her. She thinks that they despise each other because of the feelings they both experience when they are together but as the Countess she can explore her feelings for Gabriel. So Gabriel agrees to helpthe Countess find out information on the East African Company her father promises the family fortune to. Gabriel is bound and determined to marry his countess if he can figure out who she is. Once he relizes its Thea he is angry and hurt because she didn't trust him to help her without the disguise. Thea is very level headed with her explaination and Gabriel continues to help her. As the book reaches its climax Gabriel is bound and determined to stake his claim on Thea (so she never has to again wear those ugly spinster caps he hates), but she is good friends with Gabriel's mother so she knows all of the Cynster tricks about how they declare themselves. So Gabriel must come up with another way. His way is so romantic he makes your heart melt. I love the Cynster family and Gabriel is the most lovable because he and Thea always loved each other and didn't know it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book, May 20 2002
By 
Joey Roberts (State College, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
This was the first Stephanie Laurens book I had ever read. In fact, this was the first romance novel I had ever read. I fell in love with the Cynsters right away. After reading this, I had to go back and buy the first 4 in the series. I have been a huge fan of the series ever since and own all of the ones she has written in the Cynster series and can hardly wait for her next one.
This novel was about the fifth member of the bar cynster to fall victim to fate and love. I really liked the underlying mystery in this novel. It was more interesting than the other ones before it. I liked the financial fiasco. The trouble Alathea found herself in was slightly more believable than some of the other heroines troubles, plus her putting herself in danger was more acceptable because it was her problem. She was older and more sensible than the other ladies in many ways. I loved that her and Gabriel had known each other for ever. I loved the tension between them. The sex scenes in this book are so explicit and steamy. They are exciting because they are so clandestine. Alathea and Gabriel are one hot couple. This novel is a must read. I highly recommend it to any historical romance reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Cynster winner!, April 9 2001
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
There's nothing like discovering a new author you love and settling in to read the backlist. Stephanie Laurens is my new favorite, and I am having a great time reading all the Bar Cynster novels. These are the best Regency romances I've read in years. Don't worry about reading them in order. Other Cynsters make enough of an appearance to whet your appetite for more but not so much as to reveal the plots of the books you haven't read.
"A Secret Love" is the fifth in the series, and it is Gabriel's story. Althea Morwellan, Gabriel's childhood friend, is in dire financial straights and deperately needs his help. For a variety of reasons, she doesn't want to come right out and ask for his assistance; instead, she creates "the Countess", a mysterious figure deliberately designed to entice Gabriel. Now this next part requires a certain suspension of disbelief. Gabriel and the Countess, aka Althea, have some very steamy encounters, but Gabriel doesn't figure out that the two are one and the same. I, too, didn't buy it, but if you're willing to believe that Regency England was awash with gorgeous, sensitive, masculine, sexy men, you can probably live with this plot device. It leads to a very sweet story about two people finding love where they least expected it. Because of their shared history, there's a certain depth to Gabriel and Althea's romance that is quite appealing. Additonally, the story benefited from the fact that the characters were full-grown adults (32 and 33 years old) and approximately the same age. I really get tired of spunky, independent 18 year old virgins and jaded older males. All in all, this is a great regency romance and you'll have a great time reading it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another good Cynster read, Dec 28 2000
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
Stephanie Laurens is a pretty reliable author for me, and Gabriel and Alathea's story is a good solid addition to the Cynster series. As far as romance heroes go, the Cynsters are the stuff the dreams are made of: strong, reliable, they do not hate women, they believe in marriage and family and aren't ashamed of what they are. (And let's not forget sexy.)
The heroine Alathea needs someone to investigate a suspicious business investment that threatens to ruin her family's economy. Gabriel Cynster is just the man for the job. They've known each other for a long time but their relationship is somewhat strained. Alathea doesn't want to reveal her family's financial difficulties to Gabriel so she makes up a secret identity and goes to him in disguise. They have a sensuous love affair and Gabriel determines to marry her. THEN he figures out who this mysterious woman really is.
A Secret Love didn't work quite as well as Devil's Bride or Vane and Patience's story because I just couldn't buy the way Alathea's disguise fooled Gabriel for so long. This man is an intelligent, sensitive, perceptive Cynster male, for heaven's sake, not some half-blind ninnyhammer. Even if the the greatest makeup artists of Hollywood can produce wonders usually nothing can disguise a person's voice and demeanor so much that she becomes fully unrecognizable.
Despite this plotting problem, A Secret Love was an enjoyable read and I'm already waiting in line for Lucifer's story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Keep the Cynsters coming! Four stars PLUS..., Sept. 9 2000
By 
Little Tank "LT" (Metro Washington D.C., USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
Another fine Stephanie Laurens read -- not your typical Regency and absolutely fine characters, especially Gabriel (how COULD she "really" name him RUPERT?) The plot twists are deft and well-done, the supporting cast as fine as ever, and my only wish is for a fast release of the next, regarding Lucifer's and (hopefully) Chillingsworth's romances...C. may not be a Cynster but she's done a great job of developing him already. This is much finer in love scenes than Scandal's volume, and while Gabriel may not be as sensitive as Vane (he's making love to Alathea disguised as the Countess and doesn't put two and two together? Oh, puh-leeze!), he's just FINE...as are all the Bar Cynster men! Alathea is a smart, strong, savvy woman, better developed than Patience, certainly, another plus for this volume, and even better than Catriona -- who somehow slipped past me on the pages (still don't quite know why...) My recommendation? READ -- ENJOY -- BUY THEM ALL and WAIT ANXIOUSLY FOR THE NEXT ONE(s)!!!! (And hope she keeps 'em steamy!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars You have got to chek this one out!!!, Sept. 4 2000
By 
This review is from: Secret Love (Mass Market Paperback)
Okay,fans of romance...this is a must read. I just finished it and all I can say is I wish I could read it all over for the first time. This one goes on my "keep your hands off or die" shelf. Gabriel is a hero dreams are made of and the story line is tight and really keeps you enthralled(Ohhhh, I love that Cynster Family).
I really enjoy Stepanie Laurens as an author...But, in the past some of her stuff has been a little on the darker side of passion. But, this book is steamy AND keeps the glow we crave about true love. I kept thinking.."Wow, I want that" and I can't say that about a lot of books.
PS- If your looking for a new author and like Stephanie Laurens, check out Julie Garwood. She wraps love, laughter, passion, possessiveness and an incredible story into one. You just want to know her characters and feel like you do at the end of the story. Start with some of her older stuff...-Honor Splendor,The Secret, The Bride, The Prize and Saving Grace-to start and work your way forward. AND for all you Regency Period Lovers...she has a four book series right up your alley...-Lion's Lady, Guardian Angel, The Gift and Castles-. Read on and enjoy!
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Secret Love
Secret Love by Stephanie Laurens (Mass Market Paperback - June 21 2000)
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