Seducing an Angel
For the last of the Huxtable siblings, Mary Balogh creates an emotional story revolving around two complex characters and a difficult situation. Lucky for us readers, it’s one that’s certainly well worth the read.
Cassandra Belmont, Lady Paget is penniless and desperate, but not desperate enough to enter into another marriage of convenience. Plus, as a rumored ax-murderer who possibly killed her late husband, who would have her? Her plan for survival is to become the mistress of a man of her own choosing – one who will treat her well and support her household. However, the scandal that surrounds her name makes it difficult for her to ingratiate herself into society. Therefore, her selection must be quick and he must be harmless. After a quick walk in the park she selects none other than Stephen Huxtable, the angelic Earl of Merton. To gain his attention, she crashes his sister’s ball and begins the seduction.
Stephen Huxtable is the darling of the ton. He’s wealthy, titled, handsome, and of marriageable age and, with no plans to marry in the future, there’s nothing standing in the way of his agreeing to Lady Paget’s outrageous offer. As sensual as he finds her, however, the arrangement doesn’t feel right to him and he sets out to discover the secrets that Cassandra tries so desperately to hide.
Cassandra finds the seduction of the younger man much more difficult than she imagined. His very goodness and her determination to be eventually independent set them at odds from the very beginning. He wants to help her become accepted and respectable, while she wants to get away from it all and support those that she cares about the most. When an unlikely bond forges between the two, she simply wants what’s best for him, which isn’t her, and he wants to see her safe.
Stephen is the truest definition of a romance hero that I’ve read in quite some time. He’s honorable, pleasant, and has a backbone of steel – the quintessential Beta hero. He stands up to Cassandra and her mechanisms and pursues what he believes is right. She, on the other hand, does what she has to do, regardless of honor, which in a strange way made me respect her character. She is also completely determined to do what is best for Stephen, which she believes means that she should stay out of his future despite how she feels about him.
The backgrounds of the characters created much of the tension within the story. Stephen was not born into his title and is not the arrogant aristocrat many come to expect when reading works set in Regency England. He was brought up to work for what comes his way, be grateful, and make choices that are beneficial. This also guides his relationship with Cassandra. She, on the other hand, has never known security and seeks it desperately. Also, there are times within the story that she’s not simply not likable, which is caused by the distrust she constantly feels.
What I didn’t particularly buy within the story was Cassandra’s attitude about becoming a mistress and her lack of concern about sex with a virtual stranger. It doesn’t fit, in my opinion, with how a person who has been through what she has would react. I kept waiting for complete meltdown on her part – which never really came. Also, I’m not giving anything away by saying that they eventually marry. However, I felt as though Stephen got the lesser end of the deal because he wanted the marriage and I wasn’t fully convinced that she did, which made the relationship seem unequal. Plus, her continuation to hold back from the relationship got to the point where it simply annoyed me.
In Seducing An Angel, Mary Balogh does again what she does so well: Creating complicated characters who come together through complicated situations. The journey her characters make is well worth the time spent with the Huxtables.