Mary Balogh has certainly been writing quickly! She's produced First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Seduction and At Last Comes Love in close succession. I presumed that the fourth book
in this series, focusing on brother Stephen Huxtable, the Earl of Merton, wouldn't appear for a while. But appear it did
- surprisingly rapidly again.
I usually award Mary Balogh five stars - her books are almost always worth that, if not more. However, Seducing an Angel isn't quite up to her usual standard. It's hard to put my finger on why, but perhaps it has suffered a little from the speed
with which it was presumably written. It's still an excellent read, but not on
par with The Secret Pearl or Slightly Dangerous or More Than A Mistress.
Cassandra Belmont, Lady Paget, is a rather unusual heroine. Initially she's not particularly appealing - we understand that she has a dark secret in her past and
that she's looking to seduce a man into making her his mistress because she needs the money. Her attention lights on Stephen Huxtable, a man regularly described in this book as looking angelic, and she sets about her seduction. She's successful - we expect this - but from that point on things don't work out entirely as she wants.
The faux engagement theme has been turning up a bit too regularly in Mary Balogh's books. It's here, too, as well as many other familiar plot themes (including the heroine's dark secret). But despite
not feeling particularly novel in its plot, the book's characters are drawn well.
Although at first I wasn't sure that I liked Cassandra, and by the end I still had some ambivalence toward her, I was left in no doubt that Stephen did love her and she him. Stephen
is perhaps an unrealistically wonderful man, but it's satisfying to read about him anyway. The side-plots featuring romances of Cassandra's friends
are also well-handled.
What sets Balogh's books above others in this genre is that even if her plots aren't particularly new, she somehow leads you to care for her central characters and to want to keep reading. I've been a little disappointed by the Huxtable series overall, finding them less memorable than some of her other books, but compared to the majority of books in this genre,
these are masterpieces. Balogh fans - and new readers - will enjoy this book, although the large supporting cast of characters from previous books might be overmuch for new readers in places. I look forward to the
next (presumably soon-to-be-released) book about cousin Con Huxtable.