|I'm supposing that, like myself, many readers of Balogh's
Huxtable quartet have especially looked forward to Meg's
story - waiting for her to redeem herself for two novels'
worth of "Poor Meg" status. In At Last Comes Love, she
finally gets her chance to show the world she isn't going
to be pitiable, as well as her long-awaited chance to have a
life of her own.
In her teens, Margaret vowed to her dying father that she
would see her siblings safely grown. Twelve years later,
both of her sisters are married (one for a second time) and
her brother has finally reached his majority. Despite the
fact that they grew up poor, they've done well for
themselves: five years earlier, Stephen had inherited the
title of Earl of Merton purely by an accident of birth.
Now, with sisters Vanessa a duchess and Kate a baroness,
Meg feels she is free to pursue her own happiness - but is it
too late? At thirty, she has already crossed the line into
spinsterhood. Thankfully, she would not be a burden to
Stephen, but she desires a life, a home, a family of her
own -- and not to live off of the mercies of his.
When, out of character, Meg informs her former lover Crispin
Dew that she is engaged, she feels certain it will soon be
true. Of course, the Marquess of Allingham has proposed
three times already and she has little reason to suspect
that he won't again. However, when she is approached by him
at a ball her first night in London for the Season, he
introduces her to his fiancée. Meg is devastated - not
because she was in love with him, but because now her
foolishness will surely be revealed.
A chance encounter (she accidentally runs into him while
fleeing the room) with London's most reviled son, Duncan
Pennethorne, provides a brief respite: playing along after
hearing her tale of woe, Duncan is presented to Crispin as
Naturally, this throws London into an uproar and in short
order, Duncan and Meg really do find themselves betrothed.
This is perfect for Duncan, who had found himself cut off
from his fortune by his grandfather due to lack of wife and
heir. Meg takes it as a sign, and the two are married just
about as quickly as they were engaged.
Meg is willing to overlook Duncan's past, but when he tells
her the truth behind it, she demands that he break his word
to a dead woman to make his actions clearer to both his
family and hers. She adopts his illegitimate son without
hesitation and throws herself into their new life. She's
under the impression that they're working toward being very
happy together when another bit of truth from his past is
thrown in her face - and all of her newfound trust goes out
At Last Comes Love is definitely the best so far of the
Huxtable novels. Meg proves herself to be a worthy heroine
and Duncan, with his dark past and well-kept secrets, is a
fascinating leading man. Their courtship - if it can be
called that - is whirlwind and fun, taking both of them into
realms neither had ever expected to visit.