Jane Stewart's Reviews > Her Secret Lover

Her Secret Lover by Sara Bennett
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Sep 25, 10

bookshelves: historical-romance-prior-to-wwll
Read in October, 2008

I did not like it because too much conflict was based on vague communication and inaccurate assumptions.

REVIEWER’S OPINION:
Almost all events and conflicts throughout the book are based on misunderstandings due to vague communication – my pet peeve! I believe there are readers out there who are not bothered by this. Maybe they will like it. I did not. The plot, characters and conversations were not interesting for me. In Spoilers below, I give examples of conversations that bothered me, and I give away some of the plot. My purpose is for readers to judge for themselves.

STORY BRIEF:
Lord Appleby needs money. He arranges to be seen hugging Antoinette (a wealthy heiress) so she will be “ruined” and forced to marry him. Then he sends her to Wexmoor Manor, a country estate, waiting for the scandal to die down before he marries her. Antoinette fears Appleby because he threatens to marry her younger sister Cecilia if Antoinette won’t marry him. She believes he will convince Cecilia to marry him because Cecilia is too trusting. Antoinette’s former governess writes a letter to Antoinette stating where to find a person who can give evidence against Appleby. Before she can go to this person, Antoinette is sent to Wexmoor Manor against her wishes.

Gabriel is the heir to Wexmoor Manor. His mother wrote a letter with something about her prior affair with Appleby before she married Adam and had Gabriel. Appleby threatens to embarrass her by making the letter public unless Adam signs over Wexmoor Manor to him. Gabriel wants the letter so he can get back ownership of his home, Wexmoor Manor. Gabriel hears that Antoinette has a letter, and he mistakenly thinks it is the letter written by his mother. Gabriel pretends to be a highwayman to rob the coach she is in, but he can’t find the letter which she has hidden within her clothing.

CAUTION SPOILERS:
The words “she” and “he” below refer to Antoinette and Gabriel. The conflict between them through most of the book is the following. She has a letter to help get evidence to show Appleby as a bad guy. She thinks Gabriel is employed by Appleby to get the letter from her. Gabriel thinks she has the letter from his mother which Appleby used as blackmail. Gabriel thinks Antoinette is Appleby’s mistress and is there to protect the property and will tell Appleby where Gabriel is, so that Appleby can have Gabriel arrested for punching him in the nose (or some other offense that I can’t remember).

Page 136: She asks him who he is, why does he want the letter and where will he take it. He shakes his head and does not answer her.

Page 162: He asks her why she is loyal to Appleby. Instead of answering she says “You sound as if you hate him.” He decides to explain and starts to say “The letter.” She interrupts yelling “I’m tired of the letter. You’re both as bad as each other.” (She didn’t let him explain.) She then answers his question about her relationship with Appleby saying “It’s because of the money.” Gabriel mistakenly believes she is earning money from Appleby as his mistress instead of the truth which is she is wealthy and Appleby wants her money.

Page 195: Gabriel has a dream about his half sister Marietta. He says “Marietta” in his sleep. For the next 127 pages, Antoinette has angry reactions toward Gabriel because she mistakenly believes Marietta is his lover.

Up until page 246, Antoinette and Gabriel each think the other is working for and loyal to Appleby, so they keep secrets from each other. When they learn that Appleby is coming to Wexmoor Manor to get Antoinette, they flee together to avoid Appleby. I thought now they will learn the truth about each other since it’s obvious they both don’t want to be around Appleby. Instead, Antoinette tells Gabriel a new lie, that she has another lover in London to whom she is fleeing. When she is confused as to why Gabriel is fleeing from Appleby, instead of trying to figure it out or ask him, she decides she is too tired to think about it and falls asleep.

Page 267: Gabriel asks her why she needs the letter. She says “I need it. Without it I’ll never get away from Appleby.” Instead of further discussing it, Gabriel mistakenly assumes and says “so you intend to blackmail Appleby.” She says nothing. It’s not true, but she lets him believe it.

Page 268: She asks him why he wants the letter. He says he wants it so Appleby will give Wexmoor Manor to him. Instead of saying that Appleby had stolen Wexmoor Manor using blackmail, he made it sound like Appleby was paying Gabriel with the property in return for helping to get Antoinette back to Appleby.

For readers who like this sort of thing, I did not give it all away. There is “a lot more” of this vague communication that I have not described. I’m tired of writing about it.

DATA:
Story Length: 372 pages. Sexual language: moderate. Number of sex scenes: 7. Total number of sex scene pages: 32. Setting: 1851 Devon and London, England. Copyright: 2008. Genre: historical romance.
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