Message From The Author

Author's Message

Ive always been fascinated by the twists of fate, by how views adopted in childhood, with all the naive passion a child can command, can significantly color our subsequent lives in illogical, irrational
and unfounded ways. Even in ways that run counter to our best interests. Even in ways that blind us to the truth and cost us happiness.

My lovers in A SECRET LOVE have a long-standing agreement to dislike each other royally. They made up their minds about that, not together but independently, when they were not much more than 10, and nothing had changed by the time they reached 20. Indeed, their relationship had only grown more pricklyhorribly prickly. Dancing with each other was torture, pure torture, and they approved of each other not at all.

The years pass, and nothing changes; they still dislike each other
on sight, yet cannot resist drawing near, seeing just how bad that horribly itchy feeling can get, each trying to tell themselves theyve surely matured, or at least grown out of this adolescent reaction. But they havent. They dont. The feeling only intensifies with the years. That feeling, of course, is repressed lovelove turned back on itself and denied existence. The reason for the denial runs deep, childhood deep, and it is no longer easy for the one affected to remember the why and wherefore. Indeed, they never truly knew it. Children react out of emotion, they dont sit down and reason But once the die is cast, it cannot easily be overturned. So we have love deniedlove that is secret, so secret it is even hidden from the lovers affected. How couldhow wouldsuch a love be brought to the light? How could it be revealed to those who most need to see it? How could such a pair of fate-crossed lovers have their eyes opened and their hearts set free? And once their eyes are opened, what next?

That was my realm to explore in penning A SECRET LOVE, the fifth book in the Bar Cynster series.

I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labors. For more information on the Bar Cynster series, and news of future volumes, visit www.stephanie
laurens.com.

Excerpt from A SECRET LOVE

Gabriel felt energized, ready to take on the world.
The previous morning, before the countess note arrived, hed been wondering how to extract himself from the mire of disaffected boredom into which hed sunk

The countesss note had stirred, not just interest, but curiosity and speculation. His curiosity had largely been satisfied; his speculation, however

Here was a courageous, defiant widow staunchly determined to defend her familystepfamily no lessagainst the threat of dire poverty, against the certainty of becoming poor relations, if not outcasts. Her enemies were the nebulous backers of a company thought to be fraudulent. The situation called for decisive action tempered by caution, with all investigations and enquiries needing to remain covert and clandestine. That much, shed told him

One thing the countess didnt know was that he rarely reacted impulsively these days. Hed learned to keep his instincts in checkhis business dealings demanded it. He also had a definite dislike of being manipulated in any field. In this case, however, hed decided to play along.

The countess was, after all, an intriguing challenge in her own right. All close to six feet of her. Hed seen enough to gauge that a lot of that six feet was leg, a consideration guaranteed to fix his rakish interest.

Reaching his house, he climbed the steps. Opening the door with his latchkey, he shut and bolted it behind him. In the bookcase by the parlor fireplace resided a copy of Burkes Peerage. If he hadnt promised not to seek out her identity, he would have made straight for the bookcase and ascertained just which earl had recently died to be succeeded by a son called Charles. There couldnt be that many. Instead, feeling decidedly virtuous, not something that often occurred, he headed for his bed. All manner of pleasant plans revolving in his head.

Hed promised he wouldnt seek out her identityhe hadnt promised he wouldnt persuade her to reveal all to him.

Her name. Her face. Those long legs.

And more.


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