22 March 2016

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

Hey everyone,

Mary Balogh’s Slightly series was one of the first romance series I was read and I still regularly return to her books ten years later. The Secret Pearl is one of Mary Balogh’s classic romances and I couldn’t wait to start reading it!

The book:

The Secret Pearl is a tale of temptation and seduction, of guarded hearts and raw emotion…and of a love so powerful it will take your breath away….

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…and is stunned to discover that her midnight lover is a powerful nobleman. As two wary hearts ignite–and the threat of scandal hovers over them–one question remains: will she be mistress or wife? 

My thoughts:

The Secret Pearl is a wonderful historical romance book from the 1990s. Like most romance books from this period the pacing and tone of The Secret Pearl is long and drawn out. With the plot being carried by the secrets and the emotions of the hero and heroine. Yet I loved The Secret Pearl because of this. It gave me time to became immersed in the characters emotions and world. This was particularly important because of how the hero and heroine first meet. When Fleur arrives in London her circumstances force her into prostitution, which is how she meets Adam Kent. Mary Balogh doesn’t shy away from the transactional nature of Fleur and Adam’s first meeting. Nor does she undermine the psychological affect this experience has on Fleur. That for me is what made The Secret Pearl so great.

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.

I loved seeing Fleur slowly learn to trust Adam. In many ways The Secret Pearl isn't full of grand romantic gestures but instead Fleur and Adam slowly connect and fall in love through small deeds and actions. In a novel full of selfish and borderline evil characters Adam and Fleur are unique because of their inherent goodness. Both resist acting on the connection between them because of Adam's wife... Yup you read correctly Adam is married when Fleur becomes employs as his daughter's governess. I know for some people that will make this book an immediate no-go, but for me it worked in this context. Adam is in a miserable marriage, which he has tried to make the best of and despite it not working he still stays loyal to her (for the most part).

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.

Adam is possibly the sweetest, most honourable hero I've read in a long time. He is courteous and protective of not only Fleur but a host of secondary characters. For me Mary Balogh did a wonderful job of showing the characters emotions and motivations through their actions. She doesn’t rely on dialogue to carry the plot and this made a nice change to some books I’ve been reading recently.

While reading The Secret Pearl I was struck with the similarities it has to Jane Eyre. The descriptions of Fleur as a serene and calming presence reminded by of how Jane is described, among other things. These similarities didn't detract from my enjoyment of The Secret Pearl, but instead offered another dimension to the story. Although perhaps I only noticed these similarities because of how recently I watched Jane Eyre. Regardless of the possible link, The Secret Pearl this is a wonderful slow burn romance in it own right. 

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.

I couldn’t give The Secret Pearl any less than five stars and would recommend it to any Mary Balogh fans. Even if you’ve never heard of Mary Balogh before, this is a great book to start on. The writing is beautiful, the character development well-thought out and the romance truly magical.

My rating:
Happy reading and see you next time!