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The Secret Heart

(No Better Angels #1)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  582 ratings  ·  79 reviews
She's a fortune-hunter. He's nobody's prey.

Adam, Earl of Bexley, lives to work. His only relief is the sordid savagery of bare-knuckle boxing. Not women, and definitely not a disreputable, scheming woman who dances in secret with such passion...

Caro Small is desperate to escape her selfish family. Her only chance is a good marriage, and she intends to marry Ad
Paperback, 308 pages
Published November 5th 2014 by Little Phrase
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  582 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Dec 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
The problem I have with Erin Satie's writing is that there's way too much stuff going on in her books. Major plot points are introduced, not explored and discarded without giving them any depth and as a result, most of the novel felt very flimsy and rushed. Conflicts are resolved way too quickly or not dealt with at all. In this novel alone there's:

-Infidelity and incest between secondary characters
-Controlling, abusive villain of a father
-The disappearance o
Rosario (
I'm one of those who are not too happy about the state of historical romance. I've got a few authors on my autobuy (Courtney Milan, Sherry Thomas, Cecilia Grant, a few old favourites like Connie Brockway and Mary Balogh), but it's been at least a couple of years since I've discovered a new author I could add to my autobuy list. All this year, several of us on twitter have informally agreed to read and review at least one historical a month, but none of the new authors that has spurred me to try ...more
K.J. Charles
Disclaimer: Not star rating because professional connection.

I wanted to rec this as the start of a new series with a nicely dark tone to it. If you like your historicals well researched and grounded, and your characters gnarly and difficult and awkward-edged till they find out how they fit together, this will float your boat, and it's the first of four linked titles.
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian
Unique characters make this a fairly good historical. Set in 1838 England the story starts with our heroine, Caroline Small, a daughter of a viscount and a guest of a duke's house, creeping through the night garden. She is not there for any love trust or spying assignation. No, she is there to complete her ballet routine. Ballet and viscount daughter? What is going on? It gets even more interesting when we find out when and how Caroline acquired such an unusual "occupation". You see, her impover ...more
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hr-european
I really enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Well written, well-researched, well-drawn and interesting characters with faults and flaws but understandable ones. There was much depth and a wonderful unique hero.
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A promising, if flawed, historical romance debut, with lots of unusual, intriguing emotional moments, but some confusing ones, too. The writing is strong, with a hint of the literary, which I find quite appealing.

Caro Small, daughter of a dissolute aristocrat and sister to a parcel of dissolute brothers, is barely holding on to respectability. Her secret love of ballet—not watching it, but performing it, taught by a former governess (really a mistress of her father's)—makes that hold
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-rom
Complicated, flawed characters made this historical romance unique. The Secret Heart doesn't fall prey to the usual overblown hist/rom tropes but strong emotions and a quiet tone give the story a strong impact. Really enjoyed it.
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked the writing in this book better than I liked the story. It didn't 100% work for me as a romance novel mainly because I didn't actually enjoy the two main characters very much. They didn't make me happy for them. However, I appreciate the level of flawed characterization they bring to the story as well as the intensity of their relationship. This is not a typical light Hist Rom -- nor is it a typical angsty Hist Rom. There are some complex levels at work here that I appreciate even I coul ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: year-2018
Unexpectedly good! One of the most interesting historical romance I've heard in a while. Well-researched, beautiful language, complex plotlines, and unique charaterizations. I may not like the H/h very much but I really enjoyed the story. This won't be the last Erin Satie's book I read.
Ellen Klock
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's all a matter of control and how little we often have over our own lives. In The Secret Heart by Erin Satie, the characters are all under constraints- by the rules of society, the behavior of family members, financial concerns, addictive habits, sexual tensions, and the ties of love. Within these confines, our protagonists stretch their boundaries until they are reigned back in by their own flawed life experiences. Adam Spark, the Earl of Bexley mingles in disguise with the navvies, relievin ...more
Somewhat too sensual for my taste, but well written

Erin Satie has skillfully written a tale of intense emotion. Her characters are gritty and real and our hero, Adam and heroine, Caro, grow to a deep understanding of their inner motivations as well as their true desires and goals in life. The heroine is raised within a debauched family. Her governess, a disabled ballerina and her father's mistress, teaches her all she knows-to take a cynical outlook on life, and to immerse her body and soul i
Linda Walters
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I have to admit that this story idea got my attention and made me want to read it. It didn't disappoint. It was so different from what I was expecting. Don't let that statement fool you, I really enjoyed the different dramas that were going on. For awhile in the beginning I forgot that Caro was an unscrupulous fortune hunter. But there was so much more to her than that. She just kept so much of her true self hidden. Men were not people that had treated her well, most of her family especially bei ...more
Nov 07, 2015 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I stopped at page 150 of 252 in the ebook. I just didn't like either of the main characters and had no sympathy for or understanding of them. Caro Small seems to have only a thin veneer of respectability, has a past that could be construed as sordid, and is a fortune-hunter who throws herself at the hero in an attempt to gain a fortune to help her younger brother. He is an earl, and the heir of a duke, but he's also a bare-knuckles boxer because reasons. Neither particularly seem to actually lik ...more
Mary Kate
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
All right, how do I feel about this book?

It was good. I really liked Cora's pragmatism. It was really refreshing to read a heroine who wasn't constantly moping over the man she loves. I also loved how up front she was regarding her scheming plans for Adam.

Her 'I'm going to seduce you & you will marry me because your a fine upstanding gentleman' approach was unique.

Adams family left a bitter taste in my mouth. Obviously he & Daphne we're cool. I enjoyed the scene where Adam
Wendy LaCapra
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've had this book for months and I wish I had read it sooner. It's one of those must-savor indulgences that leave the reader completely satisfied. Ms. Satie writes with a gentle, lyric voice yet her prose is sharp with insight. The Secret Heart is thoughtful and frequently poetic as it tells the story of a moving & unforgettable romance. I did not feel for a moment that any of the people in this book were characters. They were living, breathing people braving their way through a complex mud ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You do it because it hurts you.

The Secret Heart is a debut historical with a darker, more serious tone. The hero and heroine are both world-weary, layered characters that aren't exactly likable. I thought they were compelling characters, so the "unlikable" part did not bother me. I enjoyed the writing, too. It's also a flawed book—I wished to see more romance development. And yet, it's a very promising debut. I will definitely pick up the following book.
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2014
The Secret Heart by Erin Satie is a story about a boxer and a ballerina. A boxer and a ballerina, who are also an Earl and a Lady and boxing and dancing are not suited to their sort of people. Besides this rather strange, awkward and not believable love story, there is also a criminal story, which is also strange, awkward and not believable. I know its fiction and it can't no way be believable, but I like my fiction books to be at least plausible.

For me it was not a good read.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
One star for the male main character. That's the only thing I liked about this book.
He was what I want from every male in a romance novel. And of course, perfect male, very unlikable female lead. Nothing she said or did make me like her. I really didn't understand their relationship, if that's what you call it.

Just, no thank you....
Erin Books
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I honestly don't know what to think of this book. It was darker than most romances, emotionally. And I'm not sure I liked the characters a lot of the time. But it was different and compelling and real. I will definitely buy more from this author.
Dec 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Well, I have a new author on my auto-buy list... more thoughts to come.
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
New author (to me) with a distinct and terrific voice. Picking up the second in the series now.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: freebees
The Secret Heart is different from most historical romances and has complex characters that aren't always likeable. I loved all the unusual activities such as ballet, boxing and paint making. The attention to detail was wonderful. In general, I really liked Erin Satie's style of writing. I just felt there was a little too much of everything which made other aspects (such as the romance and even more so Adam) remain underdeveloped. Also, some of the subplots didn't get the attention they deserved ...more
Kirsten Wilson
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
This reeeeeeeally didn't work for me. Everyone was unpleasant, and the relationship between the main characters squicked me out. The heroine was SEVENTEEN and it was emphasised how thin and small she was with "tiny hands" and I'm sorry but whenever I see that in a romance novel I think "You know who has tiny hands? CHILDREN have tiny hands" and just no. The hero was mid-to-late 20s, and when the heroine "seduced" him all I could think was "She is seventeen, you know she is seventeen, WALK AWAY F ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
.......Teeny Tinyy Spoiler.....

This is a nice read. I am a little confused that why they declared Lily dead but it doesn't bother me much. I haven't looked at the whole series but I hope there'll be a book about Alfie.
p.s. I just checked. There is a book about Alfie and don't you know one about Lily too but about being together. Now I want to read the whole series. BTW I love the cover on these. It shouldn't really matter but I am finding on new finds that if I like the c
Feb 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Plenty of people liked this one so, but for me it was a DNF at 8.7% when I realised I hated both main characters - why is a woman desperate to keep her reputation together running around a strange house in the middle of the night practising a scandalous hobby wearing not many clothes? Meanwhile, he decides that it's appropriate to express gratitude to someone by 'only' threatening her, and he looked through her letters for evidence she was lying. Boner-led (smartbitchestrashybooks. com) as well.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A duke and old royalty

I like reading about the old society rules and how love had nothing to do with marriage. Until it does. Then the families manipulate and coerce. So many mistresses and cheating husbands, secret lovers and jealous murders because that was better than being with the one you loved. Only the very brave were truly happy because they went against society and sought true love.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-fiction, ebook
I feel like there are too many plot points and subplots going on and they aren't explored properly and in some cases are just sort of dropped??.... I don't know. The ending was weird and I feel like it was such a non-ending. I was enjoying it in the beginning but then everything decided to happen all at once and my brain was pretty much just: "what? what? what? huh?" IDK.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I was really onboard until the end, where things got a little muddy. It felt like all the things that should have been hard were easy, and all the easy things were agonizing. Also: Giselle deserves a whole book.
Janice Smith-gentry
So very good.

This is a wonderful story. The characters all have so much passion it's unbelievable. I couldn't put it down. Read 200 pages in one sitting. This is the first I have read from this author and I will make sure to find more of her books.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 3 Sep 26, 2015 10:30AM  

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“Breakfast was all about possibilities. No other meal allowed for so much choice—sweet or savory, light or heavy? Tea or coffee? And while enjoying the fruit of these decisions, the whole day waited, unsullied, to be filled up like a plate.” 0 likes
“I disappeared inside my love of him. I lost myself to it, and I didn’t want to come back.”

“And now?”

“I feel like a part of me has died.”
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