At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh. Dell Historical Romance - BantamDell. May 2009. ISBN #: 9780440244240. pb. 386 pp. Book provided by courtesy of bestreviews.com.
Fans of Mary Balogh will not be disappointed with the third novel in her series around the Huxtable siblings. Whether one has recently discovered Ms. Balogh's writing or has already dedicated a shelf to hold these novels, At Last Comes Love will soon become a favorite.
The eldest Huxtable, Margaret, has put her dreams of love, marriage, and motherhood aside to see her siblings raised to adulthood and settled, even though she is not that much older than they when their father dies. Although still a great beauty at thirty when her promise is done, Margaret Huxtable fears she has waited too long and may face a future as Aunt Margaret to her nieces and nephews, always dependent on the charity of her siblings. She decides to go to London for the Season with the express purpose of soliciting and accepting a proposal. Despite her age, Margaret's beauty, poise, and respectability as the sister of the Earl of Merton has always drawn a number of admirers to her side, as well as a few offers each Season.
Arriving in London , she finds that Crispin Dew, the man she loved from the age of eighteen until he betrayed her by marrying another, has returned to England as a widower and expects to pick up where they left off twelve years previously, without benefit of any kind of understanding. Hurt and offended, she declines his offer of company under the pretense that her fiancé will not approve. Swearing Dew to secrecy, she explains that her betrothal has yet to be announced. Margaret feels sure that the lie will become truth once her most ardent admirer realizes she is in town. Unfortunately, Margaret discovers that a man can only be turned down a certain number of times before he seeks someone else who will have him. Horrified by the predicament she finds herself in; Margaret is desperate for a miracle.
Duncan Pennethorne, Earl of Sheringford, has also arrived in London with a mission to carry out. To keep from being cut off from his inheritance, he must woo and wed, within fifteen days, a respectable female of excellent breeding, and willing to align herself with him. A daunting task since the Earl is tainted by a scandal so dark that he is not received by any but those on the absolute fringes of the ton With nothing to lose and all to gain, when he collides with Margaret at a crowded ball, he makes her an extraordinary offer that may solve both their dilemmas.
Before Margaret and Duncan can devise a plan, she is betrayed yet again by Crispin when he breaks his vow and news of the betrothal is spread throughout the ton by the next morning. Her reputation at risk whether she accepts Duncan 's offer or not, she soon learns that there is more to Duncan 's situation than the loss of his inheritance. Some betrayals are worse than others and the truth is not always best revealed.
In this novel, Ms. Balogh takes up a theme explored in some of her previous novels - romance can and does occur for women older than twenty. Margaret Huxtable is thirty, an age that is not typical for the heroine of most historical romances. By choosing an older heroine, Balogh has added a certain depth to Margaret's character and as a result there is more complexity to this story than either of the first two novels in the series. It is a wonderful story and well worth making some time to read it.
Reviewed by Mairead Walpole