Author: Kasey Michaels
Publication: Pocket; First Edition edition (February 1, 1995)
Description: Dashing and elegant, Baron Christian St. Clair is the toast of the ton…and a man with a closely guarded secret. For his dazzling looks and celebrated charm mask his late-night escapades as the elusive Peacock, enemy of the rich and benefactor of the poor. Now Gabrielle Laurence, the destitute beauty who loathes St. Clair's rakish ways and power over her social standing, is close to discovering the truth. But can he convince her to trust a rogue—and take a chance on the passion that flares between them?
My Thoughts: THE SECRETS OF THE HEART was a fun Regency romp that reminded me just a little of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. The reminder was aided by a number of beginning of the chapter quotes from Baroness Orczy.
Baron Christian St. Clair is his generations Beau Brummel and Byron. Popularity in the ton rises and falls on St. Clair's whims. He has chosen to elevate to social prominence Gabrielle Laurence who has come to London to find a wealthy husband to save her impoverished estates before her father finally manages to gamble them away. While she is grateful for St. Clair's assistance, she thoroughly dislikes the power that his approval has over her success. The two spend almost every meeting verbally sparring with each other.
Gabrielle's rise to popularity has really put the former star of the ton - Lady ArianaTredway - in an uncomfortable position. She's jealous of Gabrielle's new social prominence and eager to remove St. Clair from his position of power.
Meanwhile, titillating the ton is the Peacock who is riding around and righting wrongs when evil factory owners mistreat their employees. This isn't a good time in England. The soldiers who fought against Napoleon have been mustered out into an economy that has no jobs for them. Besides raids on mill owners, the Peacock pens heart-rending missives to the newspapers which St. Clair delights in quoting. The Tory government wants the Peacock stopped!
Since St. Clair is the Peacock we see how his original good intentions are getting lost in the adrenaline inducing activities that he and his gang of friends are doing. When Gabrielle gets involved, the Peacock decides he has to retire. But there is one more thing he has to do: convince Tory Lord Buxley and the lovely Ariana that their conviction that he is the Peacock is mistaken.
I loved the way Gabrielle and St. Clair go from enemies to lovers. And I loved the complex plot that gave all the good guys a happy ending finally worked out.
St. Clair's shrug was entirely French, for if he was every drop an Englishman, he had spent the years following Waterloo enjoying Parisian society, obviously taking on some of their more eloquent mannerisms, even to the point of sprinkling his conversation with snippets of not necessarily germane French.I bought this book in 2008. You can buy your copy here.