At Last Comes Love (2009) by Mary Balogh is the third book in the Huxtable series. This review is presented by fellow reader, Senetra. The opinions on this series from other readers is rather interesting and varied.
This was the Huxtable book I was most looking forward to. Margaret, the heroine, was just a bit unlucky in love. The first guy promises to come back and marry her and never does, leaving Margaret to find out about his marriage to someone else from his mother. The next guy she considers marrying gets snapped up by her sister. The first guy, Crispin, returns, widowed and ready to pick up where he left off. In order to save face, Margaret has told him that she is secretly engaged. In her mind, she is secretly engaged, having decided to marry the Marquis of Allingham after several years of declining his proposals. The only problem? Allingham is engaged, but not to anyone named Margaret Huxtable. Luckily, Margaret collides with a man who asks for a dance and her hand in marriage. Margaret wonders aloud if they could reverse the order, and so Crispin meets secret fiancé Duncan Pennethorne, Earl of Sherington. He really needs a wife. On the night before his wedding, he ran off with the wife of his fiancée’s brother, and they lived with their child until her recent death. Now his grandfather is threatening to give his home, and the income associated with it, to his cousin unless he marries within two weeks. Crispin has a big mouth, so Margaret finds herself engaged, but after hearing his story, she decides that Duncan intrigues her enough that she will allow him to court her, but reminds him that if she refuses him, he won’t have time to get married to anyone else. Duncan is willing, and the courtship commences.
As they get to know one another, secrets are told, revealing the reasoning behind choices they both made in the past. Meg’s decision to wait for Crispin makes sense, and Duncan’s jilting of his fiancée was definitely the lesser of two evils. These revelations also convince Meg that marriage to Duncan is a good idea, and the marriage takes place. In one of my favorite scenes, Duncan and Meg are revealed to be two lonely people who have made sacrifices for and given to others for so long that they are unsure if they know how to accept what the other has to give.
In the end, Duncan does keep one last secret for too long, and Meg feels betrayed and lied to, so she refuses any explanations. While this secret could have been told earlier in the story, revealing it at this point does have a greater impact on those involved. Meg’s refusal to listen to Duncan’s explanation was childish, and the week of silence was a bit much. I can sympathize, though, because sometimes, you let things get out of hand and after a while just feel stupid about it. Grade B+