on December 26th 2016
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From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Wright comes a breathtaking new full-length novel in the Rakes & Rebels series! A STOLEN HEART When Lady Isabella Trevarre first laid eyes on Gabriel St. Briac, she announced to her best friend: “That is the man I will marry!” Now a woman grown, Izzie has traded her girlish dreams for the independent life of an artist, but she never quite forgot the dazzling Frenchman who captivated her young heart. When he appears again in Cornwall, the seeds of desire grow between them…
A STOLEN MASTERPIECE As Napoleon’s army loots art treasures throughout Europe, Gabriel St. Briac’s priceless Leonardo da Vinci painting vanishes from its hiding place. Bent on recovering his family’s prized possession, Gabriel sets sail for the chaos of wartime France—only to find Izzie stowed away on his ship. Though fearful for her safety, he allows her to join in his quest. But Izzie harbors a dark secret…a secret that could shatter the tender blossom of their trust. When danger puts them both to the test, will these two guarded souls dare to risk all for love?
Author's note: The Secret of Love connects to Smuggler's Moon in the Rakes & Rebels series.
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
The Secret of Love is the third book in the Rakes & Rebels series by Cynthia Wright. I have had the pleasure of reading other books in this series. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and hoped that this one would be just as good. I wasn’t disappointed.
This is the story of Lady Isabella Trevarre. She has little confidence in herself thanks to the way her father and younger brother always talked down to her and made her feel bad about her looks and her weight. She is often heard saying that she is an independent woman of 4 and 20 years old, and an artist. She may have had a crush on a certain man in the past, even telling her friend that she would one day marry him, but the years have progressed and Isabella is quite happy with her life the way it is. That is until once again she is reacquainted with that man from years ago.
That man is Gabriel St. Briac. He is a friend of her brother Sebastian. Years ago Gabriel asked Sebastian to hide a very valuable heirloom, a portrait of the King of France painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Living in Cornwall and once being a smuggler, Sebastian knew of the perfect smugglers hidey hole for the painting. Now Gabriel has returned to collect it.
As soon as Isabella sees Gabriel all her old feelings for him come flooding back, not to mention the more grown up feelings of desire she starts to feel. As for Gabriel, he doesn’t even recognise Isabella, she has lost some weight, lost her spots, become curvy in all the right places, and he is shocked when he flirts with her to have Sebastian introduce her once again to his sister!! There is an instant attraction between the couple, but it’s something that needs to be put to the back of Gabriel’s mind when he discovers that his portrait has been stolen. Sebastian is just as shocked at the news and can’t fathom how anybody could have found the hidden place.
What follows next is the search for the painting. Gabriel believes that Napoleon’s men will have been instructed to steal the art work for his collection. Isabella believes that she knows who the middle man might be, but she keeps it a secret until hopefully the painting is found. Gabriel refuses Isabella’s offer to help him search for the painting, even though she said that she would be invaluable for her knowledge of da Vinci’s work, and could confirm for him upon finding the item, if indeed it is one of his works.
She might have been refused, but Isabella is determined to have her way, and she stows away on Gabriel’s ship. From the minute he discovers her sparks fly, both of desire and of anger at her audacity to follow him.
Will they find the portrait, and if they do, will Gabriel ever be able to forgive Isabella for holding the secret he will discover if they do find it? Their relationship develops during the story, with both of them realising they have more feelings for each other than just desire. Will all that has built between them end up burning to the ground if Isabella’s secret is found out?
This was such an exciting story with just the right amount of adventure and intrigue. The romance that builds up between Gabriel and Isabella holds just the right amount of resistance leading to letting go. The passionate scenes between them were fabulous, enough detail been given to make a reader swoon, but not too much so that the reader won’t get put off by too much detail. Between the passion of the couple, and the search for the heirloom the book is one that you want to read in one sitting. It’s fast paced, it’s funny, a little sad here and there, but for the most part it is joyous and a real delight to read.
Although it is part of a series, this book can easily be read as a stand alone one, but I believe that once you read this book, if you haven’t read the others, you will be itching to do so.