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The Secret Pearl

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  6,211 ratings  ·  395 reviews
He first spies her in the shadows outside a London theatre, a ravishing creature forced to barter her body to survive.

To the woman known simply as Fleur, the well-dressed gentleman with the mesmerizing eyes is an unlikely savior. And when she takes the stranger to her bed, she never expects to see him again. But then Fleur accepts a position as governess to a young girl…a
Paperback, 401 pages
Published November 29th 2005 by Dell (first published September 3rd 1991)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,211 ratings  ·  395 reviews

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I know.
I am evil.
I am saying this book was not good.

:hides from angry mob:

It just was so goody goody two shoes!

The hero made me want to rip my hair out!
He had sex with the heroine. Oh no!
He cheated on his wife!
He is evil!
At least he thinks he is wicked,wicked,wicked.
Even thou his wife will not touch him,his marriage is not consummated and his kid is actually his brothers bastard.
So what ever.
And even thou he is in love with the heroine,he tells her how he could not divorce. Becaus
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
On the run, accused of murder, Fleur is alone and scared on the streets of London, slowly starving, she only one thing left of value: her body. So when a man picks her up for sex, the experience leaves her changed, stripped of her virginity and sicken with herself. Thinking the life of a whore would never be for her, she tries one more time to see if she can find work. When a blessing comes from a Mr.Kent looking for a governess for his daughter. She finally thinks her life is on the mend, litt ...more
I was reluctant to read this. Adultery is not a good basis for romance, but the story is so much more than that and the adulterous parts are handled seriously and not glorified or lengthy. It is a very beautiful love story and a tear jerker. I'd encourage anyone hesitant because of the content to take a chance.

It's important to note, that while the hero was married, his marriage was in name only. His wife loved another man and was disgusted by the hero's scars from the Napoleonic war. He had lov
Lady Wesley
This book, a Mary Balogh classic from 1991, is gripping, dark, and ultimately uplifting.

In the opening chapter, a man hires a young, sad looking woman outside Covent Garden and proceeds to have swift and rather brutal sex with her, realizing only after it's too late that she is a virgin. Afterward, he is haunted by the memory and sends his secretary to track her down. Upon his master's order, the secretary hires her to be a governess to the master's five-year-old daughter. It's hard to know wha
Aug 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
The goodreads blurb (and the library blurb, and probably the back cover blurb...) definitely downplay some of the major themes of The Secret Pearl. Here's a more accurate description, I think:

Adam is a scarred veteran Duke, who hires a rather dreary-looking prostitute for an evening of forgetfulness one late night in London. Upon taking Fleur to bed, he discovers that she was a virgin! GASP, HORRORS, GUILT. So he hires the prostitute as a governess for his daughter! And finds himself even more a
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's 2:20am and I have to be up in 4 hours, but this story was so fucking beautiful I don't regret a thing. Mary Balogh you are magic. Holy shit I loved this story. ...more
Dec 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
The Secret Pearl is another book where Mrs. Balogh uses a different, and for many authors and readers, forbidden theme as a plot device. At the beginning of the story, the heroine decides to work as a prostitute! This is not a spoiler as it does happen in the first pages. The hero is leaving the theatre one night when he sees a prostitute in the shadows, he asks her her price and he takes to an inn where the consummate the act. However she touches him in some way and realising she had been a vir ...more
Rating: 3 ½ stars

The Secret Pearl is a thought provoking, tragic and unusual novel that explores the worst and best aspects of what makes us human. Some people don’t care for Mary Balogh’s writing because at times, her style comes across as distant. What I’ve found in her books is that she shows the reader what is needed and reveals what is important in the story by using the plot, the characters’ actions and dialogue. Balogh trusts her audience to understand and to come to their own conclusion
Mary Balogh loves redemption and often creates characters with so much baggage you wonder how she will ever win the reader over and give them a plausible HEA. This novel starts dark and moves to the light. Reading it was a visceral experience at times. I don't know if I ever want to read it again, but I'm glad I did. ...more
I find Mary Balogh's writing style to be formal and unemotional which prevents me from becoming completely invested in her stories. But I keep reading because her storylines are interesting and the obstacles she places in front of her protagonists seem impossible. And, wow, the conflicts Adam and Fleur faced certainly fit that category! Their journey wasn't an easy path, but this is a romance so they do find their happy ending.

Adam was a wonderful hero and the true jewel or "secret pearl" of thi
Carol Storm
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The best of the best -- the genius of Mary Balogh is that she can create a story that begins in the most sordid way possible, and love still triumphs.
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Accidentally read this when I was supposed to be working. Once I started I couldn't put it down. Great plot. I now plan to read all the Mary Balogh books! ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tour de force, indeed. A story that breaks your heart.

Adam and Fleur's story made me sigh. It is almost too real. Similar scenarios I have witnessed in life. People struggling with important life decisions they made and trying to come to terms with those decisions that trap them, willingly or unwillingly.

In honesty I think the book deserves 5 stars. The characterization, the story, the emotions, fantastic depiction of an impossible situation some of us have the luck to face in life. I love the
Mary - Buried Under Romance
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Upon a re-reading of this book, I found myself conflicted over my feelings for the characters. While Adam have found a place amongst my Hall of Fame heroes, Fleur ultimately fell short of expectations. Her stubborness and refusal to confide in Adam despite his numerous assurances that he would help her, made her a weak character and belied her courage with which Adam had fallen in love.

So...this is a 4 stars for me, or 4.5 stars. It's poignant, and I absolutely loved this when I first read it,
Lit Reader
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
A classic romance with a 1980's/bodice ripper feel... The story-telling was on point, the stucture of the story and character outline was well executed. Only, there are some issues with the rapey feel to the start of the book, but hey, what a way to open a story with moral conflict, sex and violence! right? (ehrmmm... maybe not).

After a conflicted first encounter, the hero grows a conscience and gets the heroine hired as his child's governess under false pretenses. They are almost fated to fall
Jan 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: romance
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, read-2011
Mary Balogh books are just so hard for me to rate. 3.5 for The Secret Pearl.

My 2 main issues are

1. I found it way to long. Balogh often alternates POV on the same scene and it just seems redundant. I never felt I learned anything new from the other characters POV. Just one Scene with the h/h POV in 3rd person would have done the trick for me.

2. We know that Fleur's first time was horrid and she is extremely weary of our hero but do you have to beat us over the head with it?? I got the pictur
He would be happy again and happy forever. He would open the oyster shell and find the pearl within.

I LOVED THE SECRET PEARL. I can't remember the last time a romance made me want to scream and cry but The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh is simply amazing. I was hooked from the first page. I loved everything about it - the engaging writing style, the nuanced character development, the good plot, and the surge of emotions Balogh made us feel for everyone.

Fleur Hamilton is a street worker who spends
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone Looking for a Beautiful Love Story
Reviewed for THC Reviews
The Secret Pearl is far more than a mere romance novel. It is an exquisite love story of two people who fall in love against seemingly impossible odds, and whose love for one another never fades despite being kept apart by circumstances beyond their control. All this occurs amidst the hero and heroine's inauspicious, even sordid, initial meeting where he becomes her first client as a prostitute, and the discovery that he is married to another woman. I believe Mary Balogh
3 stars

I find that I don't often connect with Mary Balogh books, and this one seemed way over the top to me. Fleur and Adam were probably made for each other, but I really didn't care. I will summarize the book below.

She: I ran away from a bad thing, I have no money, I must sell myself to survive, someone takes me up on it, I find out my employer is also my defiler (who I chose to sell my body to), I HATE YOU.

He: I'm scarred, I scare everyone, the woman I loved deeply/am married to has never lov
Jac K
3.5 Stars
This has all the makings of a great read; I liked it, but I can’t say I LOVED it because it was so frustrating. I love angst, but I prefer it to be generated from events/hardships not self-inflicted/all in your head angst. This reads like a historical soap opera, and there’s just SO MUCH GUILT!! Everyone’s thinking about others and just tearing themselves up about it. GUILT. SHAME. LOATHING repeat. It SUCKED me in initially, but then it eventually pushed my patience. BUT-if you’re in th
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
I’m on a roll with Mary Balogh books! I loved it. MB tells a vivid, heartfelt historical romance with ghastly circumstances. Adam was romantic and honorable man and I loved everything about him. Fleur was enduring, graceful, and brave. She had an outer confidence that I wish I possessed.
These two have to figure out a way to move on and start living again........ without each other.
It was a great book and I highly recommend it.

This was a library loan from my local library.
*The Angry Reader*
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think this is a great example of a traditional well-done historical romance. Not the silly overdone stuff - but a genuine book. There was an undertone of drama and angst literally from the first page til the last. There was a good villain, a few swoony moments, and an angsty misunderstood hero.
Fleur and Adam meet in terrible awkward circumstances. Each is painted in a bad light. Then they're placed in a situation that forces them to interact - thus giving them time to grow and learn about the
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Heather by: Amy
Shelves: ill, romance
Amy recommended this to me, so I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't. It was readable, but had so many of the flaws that I don't like in romances:

1) Heroine is the prettiest woman ever. All the men love her.
2) Insta-love without apparent origin.
3) Ridiculous extremes in feeling. She is disgusted/terrified with him. She hates him. Wait, she loves him. Nope, hates him again. Wait, eternal love!
4) Barriers to love that are stupid and make me roll my eyes.
5) Completely black and white characters
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of heart-rending love stories
Recommended to Adrienne by: friends on GRs
Oh I just loved this story! bittersweet, heart breaking and sorrowful for the most part, but for me an enduring love story with a very happy HEA.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Disappointing: stilted execution and characters that scream for any sort of nuance. Skimming was my friend.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
No time or patience for an in debt review. So it's short and to the point:

Beautiful story, slow build romance
But no epilogue...
And somehow I feel it could have been better, so 4 stars.

Read this!
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Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curl ...more

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“Why have you done all this for me?" She turned her head to look at him. "Tell me the truth."

He shook his head slowly.

"I don't think I could have been more terrified of the devil than I was of you," she said, "when it was happening and in my thoughts and nightmares afterward. And when you came home to Willoughby and I realized that the Duke of Ridgeway was you, I thought I would die from the horror of it."

His face was expressionless. "I know," he said.

"I was afraid of your hands more than anything," she said. "They are beautiful hands."

He said nothing.

"When did it all change?" she asked. She turned completely toward him and closed the distance between them. "You will not say the words yourself. But they are the same words as the ones on my lips, aren't they?"

She watched him swallow.

"For the rest of my life I will regret saying them," she said. "But I believe I would regret far more not saying them."

"Fleur," he said, and reached out a staying hand.

"I love you," she said.


"I love you."

"It is just that we have spent a few days together," he said, "and talked a great deal and got to know each other. It is just that I have been able to help you a little and you are feeling grateful to me."

"I love you," she said.


She reached up to touch his scar. "I am glad I did not know you before this happened," she said. "I do not believe I would have been able to stand the pain."

"Fleur," he said, taking her wrist in his hand.

"Are you crying?" she said. She lifted both arms and wrapped them about his neck and laid her cheek against his shoulder. "Don't, my love. I did not mean to lay a burden on you. I don't mean to do so. I only want you to know that you are loved and always will be."

"Fleur," he said, his voice husky from his tears, "I have nothing to offer you, my love. I have nothing to give you. My loyalty is given elsewhere. I didn't want this to happen. I don't want it to happen. You will meet someone else. When I am gone you will forget and you will be happy."

She lifted her head and looked into his face. She wiped away one of his tears with one finger. "I am not asking anything in return," she said. "I just want to give you something, Adam. A free gift. My love. Not a burden, but a gift. To take with you when you go, even though we will never see each other again."

He framed her face with his hands and gazed down into it. "I so very nearly did not recognize you," he said. "You were so wretchedly thin, Fleur, and pale. Your lips were dry and cracked, your hair dull and lifeless. But I did know you for all that. I think I would still be in London searching for you if you had not gone to that agency. But it's too late, love. Six years too late.”
“But he was not Matthew. He was everything that Matthew was not. He was safety and comfort and warmth. He was home. He was everything in the world that was hope and sunshine. He took a step toward her and opened his arms to her, and she was in those arms without ever knowing how the distance between them had closed.” 5 likes
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