At Last Comes Love (Huxtable Series)

( 97 )


Step into a world of scandal, intrigue, and enthralling passion as New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh sweeps us into the lives of an extraordinary family: the Huxtables. Margaret, the eldest, embarks on the most risqué adventure of her life and agrees to marry the most notorious man in London.

Only desperation could bring Duncan Pennethorne, the infamous Earl of Sheringford, back home after the spectacular scandal that had shocked even the jaded ton. Forced to wed in...

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Step into a world of scandal, intrigue, and enthralling passion as New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh sweeps us into the lives of an extraordinary family: the Huxtables. Margaret, the eldest, embarks on the most risqué adventure of her life and agrees to marry the most notorious man in London.

Only desperation could bring Duncan Pennethorne, the infamous Earl of Sheringford, back home after the spectacular scandal that had shocked even the jaded ton. Forced to wed in fifteen days or be cut off without a penny, Duncan chooses the one woman in London in frantic need of a husband. A lie to an old flame forces Margaret Huxtable to accept the irresistible stranger’s offer. But once she discovers who he really is, it’s too late—she’s already betrothed to the wickedly sensual rakehell. Quickly she issues an ultimatum: If Duncan wants her, he must woo her. And as passion slowly ignites, two people marrying for all the wrong reasons are discovering the joys of seduction—and awaiting the exquisite pleasure of what comes after….

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Sparkling with sharp wit, lively repartee, and delicious sensuality, the emotionally rewarding At Last Comes Love metes out both justice and compassion.” —Library Journal, starred review
Library Journal

Meet the Huxtables, a quiet country family whose lives take an unexpected turn when the youngest, 17-year-old Stephen, becomes the Earl of Merton and he and his three sisters are swept up in the unfamiliar social whirl of the ton. Young, widowed Vanessa Huxtable Dew is not about to let her elder sister, Margaret, sacrifice herself once again for her siblings, especially when it means wedding the arrogant Viscount Lyngate and giving up the dream of marrying the soldier she loves. So outspoken Nessie proposes to Lyngate herself-and his agreement stuns them both in First Comes Marriage. Peppered with brilliant banter, laced with laughter (the proposal scene is hilarious), and tingling with sexual tension, this story of two seemingly mismatched people struggling to make their marriage work tugs at a few heartstrings and skillfully paves the way for the stories to come.

When a reckless wager puts the rakish reputation of Baron Montford at risk and threatens to ruin beautiful, innocent Katherine Huxtable, Monty puts the issue to rest by claiming failure. However, three years later the two meet again, and this time they strike a double wager-where falling in love is the stakes-but this time the results are far different. Exquisite sexual chemistry permeates this charmingly complex story that seamlessly interweaves family issues with the far-reaching effects of scandal and happily ensures another Huxtable's wedded bliss in Then Comes Seduction.

Five years after jilting his fiancée and running off with her sister-in-law, the Earl of Sheringford is back in town and on a mission: to find a bride acceptable to his grandfather and marry her within 15 days-or loseeverything. Amazingly, the solution literally falls into his arms when a distraught Margaret Huxtable, fleeing an unwanted suitor, crashes into him at a ball. But if Sherry wants to win Meg, he will have to convince her-and with only two weeks to do so, it won't be easy. A multitude of fascinating threads, some cleverly unexpected, come together beautifully in this tightly woven plot that is shot through with secrets and lies and takes a hard look at what honor really means. Sparkling with sharp wit, lively repartee, and delicious sensuality, the emotionally rewarding At Last Comes Love metes out both justice and compassion; totally satisfying. Stephen's story, Seducing an Angel, will be a June hardcover release. (For an incisive Q&A with the prolific Balogh, see p. 90.)

—Kristin Ramsdell
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440244240
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Series: Huxtable Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 229,242
  • Product dimensions: 7.04 (w) x 4.04 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including the acclaimed Slightly and Simply novels and the first three titles in her Huxtable series, First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Seduction, and At Last Comes Love. A former teacher, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

WHEN Duncan Pennethorne, Earl of Sheringford, returned to London after a five-year absence, he did not go immediately to Claverbrook House on Grosvenor Square, but instead took up a reluctant residence on Curzon Street with his mother, Lady Carling. Sir Graham, her__second husband, was not delighted to see him, but he was fond of his wife so did not turn his stepson from his doors.

Claverbrook House was where Duncan must go sooner rather than later, though. His funds had been cut off, without warning and without explanation, at just a time when he was preparing to return home at last-home being Woodbine Park in Warwickshire, the house and estate where he had grown up and that had provided him with a comfortable income since his father's death fifteen years ago.

And he had not been going there alone. The Harrises, who had been in his employ for the past five years in various capacities, were going with him-the position of head gardener had fallen vacant and Harris was to fill it. Most important of all, four-year-old Toby was going there too. He was to be known at Woodbine as the Harrises' orphaned grandson. Toby had been wildly excited when told that he would be living henceforward at the place about which Duncan had told him so many exciting_stories-Duncan's memories of his boyhood there were almost exclusively happy ones.
But then, suddenly, all his plans had gone awry, and he had been forced to leave the child with the Harrises in Harrogate while he dashed off to London in the hope of averting disaster.

His only warning had come in a formal note written in the bold hand of his grandfather's secretary, though his grandfather's signature was scrawled at the foot of the page, unmistakable despite the fact that it had grown shaky and spidery with age. At the same time the steward at Woodbine Park had grown suddenly and ominously silent.

They had all known where to write to him, much of the need for secrecy having been lifted with Laura's death. Duncan had felt obliged to inform a number of people about that unhappy event.

It made little sense to Duncan that his grandfather would decide to cut him off just when a measure of respectability had been restored to his life. It made even less sense when he considered the fact that as the Marquess of Claverbrook's only grandson and only direct descendant, he was his heir.

But sense or nonsense, he was cut off, turned loose and penniless, with no means of supporting those who were dependent upon him-or himself for that matter. Not that he worried unduly about the Harrises. Good servants were always in demand. Or about himself. He was still young and able-bodied. But he did worry about Toby. How could he not?

Hence this desperate dash to London, which was perhaps the last place on earth he wanted to be-and in the middle of the Season, to boot. It had seemed the only course of action open to him.The letter he had written in reply to his grandfather's had been ignored, and already precious time had been lost. So he had been forced to come to demand an explanation in person. Or to ask for it, anyway. One did not demand anything of the Marquess of Claverbrook, who had never been known for the sweetness of his temper.

Duncan's mother did not have any reassurance to offer. She had not even known he had been cut off until he told her so.

"I only wonder," she said when he went to her boudoir the morning after his arrival-or the early afternoon to be more precise, since mornings did not figure largely in her favorite times of the day-"that he did not cut you off five years ago, my love, if he was going to do it at all. We all_expected that he would then. I was even toying with the idea of going to plead with him not to, but it struck me that by doing so I would quite possibly goad him into cutting you off even sooner than he planned. Perhaps he forgot until recently that you were still drawing on the rents of Woodbine. Not so harshly, Hetty-you will pull out every hair on my head and whatever will I do then?"

Her maid was vigorously brushing the tangles out of her hair.

But his grandfather was not renowned for a poor memory either, especially where money was concerned.

"Graham says he will not support your excesses for longer than a week at the outside," his mother added,_returning her attention to her son as she arranged the flowing folds of her peignoir to show her figure to best advantage. "He told me so last evening after you arrived. But I would not worry about that, my love. I can wind Graham about my little finger whenever I choose."

"You need not do it on my account, Mama," Duncan assured her. "I will not be staying here for long, only until I have spoken with Grandpapa and settled something with him. He cannot intend to leave me quite out in the cold, can he?"

But he very much feared that it could indeed happen-that it already had, in fact. And it seemed his mother agreed with him.

"I would not wager more than ten guineas or so against it," she said, reaching for the rouge pot. "He is a stubborn, crotchety old man, and I am more than delighted that he is no longer my father-in-law and I do not have to pretend to dote upon him. Do hand me that rouge brush, if you please, my love. No, not that one-the other. Hetty, have I not told you repeatedly to set my things down so that they are within my reach while you are busy with my hair? You must believe that my arms are long enough to reach my ankles. How peculiar that would be."

Duncan left the room after handing his mother the correct rouge brush. He could not decide between turning up unannounced at Claverbrook House on the one hand and writing to request an audience on the other-for that was what a familial visit to his grandfather amounted to. If he went in person, he might have to suffer the ignominy of being turned away by his grandfather's Friday-faced butler-if Forbes still held the post, that was. He must be nearly as ancient as his master. If he wrote, on the other hand, his letter might yellow with age before his grandfather's secretary deigned to give it any attention.

The pot or the kettle.

The devil or the deep blue sea.

Which was it to be?

And there was a degree of urgency to the situation that threatened to throw Duncan into a panic. He had settled the Harrises and Toby in a couple of cramped rooms in Harrogate and paid one month's rent. There was simply not enough money for another month. And one week of this one was gone already.

Even so, he procrastinated instead of making a decision and spent one whole day reacquainting himself with London-and London with him. Much as one set of instincts warned him to lie low, to avoid being seen if he possibly could, another part of him argued that since he could not avoid the company of his peers for all of the rest of his life without becoming a hermit, he might as well sally forth now with all the nonchalance he could muster.

He went to White's Club, where he still had a membership and where he did not find the doors barred against him. He met a number of former friends and acquaintances there, none of whom gave him the cut direct. On the contrary, a number of them hailed him with jovial familiarity, as if he had been there just last year or even last week and had never in his life dashed away from London and from society under a huge cloud of scan_dal. And if a few gentlemen ignored him, well, there was nothing so very unusual about that. One did not hail everyone one met, after all, at White's or anywhere else. Nobody made a scene and demanded that he be removed from the hallowed sanctum of the club.

He allowed himself to be borne off to Tattersall's with a group of equestrian enthusiasts to look over the horses, and then on to the races. He even acquired some modest winnings at the latter by the end of the afternoon, though they were far too modest to make any significant difference to his financial circumstances. In the evening he went to a card party, where he lost the afternoon's windfall before winning more than half of it back again.

He packaged up the money before going to bed and dispatched it the next morning to Harrogate. By now Toby was bound to have put his heel through a stocking or his knee through his breeches or his toe through his shoes or . . . Well, the possibilities were endless. Bringing up a child was a decidedly expensive undertaking.

On the second day the ticklish decision of how best to approach his grandfather was taken out of his hands. There was a note beside his plate at the breakfast table, written in the all-too-familiar hand of the secretary. It was a summons to appear before the Marquess of Claverbrook at one o'clock precisely. The old gentleman did not go out much these days, according to Duncan's mother, but obviously he did not miss much of what went on beyond his doors. He had heard that his grandson was back in town. He had even known where to find him.

And it was definitely a summons rather than an_invitation-at one o'clock precisely.

Duncan dressed with care in a coat of blue superfine that was neat and elegant but not in the first stare of fashion. He had his valet tie his neckcloth in a smart yet simple knot. He wore a plain fob at his waist and pulled on well-polished Hessian boots over his gray pantaloons, but plain black ones rather than anything more flamboyant. He certainly did not want to give the impression that he lived extravagantly-which he did not.

"You do understand, Smith," he said to his man, "that I will be unable to pay you this week and perhaps will not be able to next week either-or the week after. You may wish to look about for other employment, and London is by far the best place to do it."

Smith, who had remained with him through thick and thin for eleven years-though never before in utter poverty-sniffed.

"I understand a great deal, m'lord," he said, "not having been born an imbecile. I will leave when I am good and ready to leave."

Which would not be immediately, Duncan gathered-a loyalty for which he was silently grateful.
He frowned at his image before leaving the room. He did not want to appear obsequious before his grandfather any more than he wished to look expensive, though of course he was desperate. He sighed inwardly, took his hat and cane from Smith's hands, and left the room and the house.

Forbes took Duncan's things when he arrived at Claverbrook House, scarcely sparing him a glance as he did so, and invited his lordship to follow him. Duncan followed, raising his eyebrows and pursing his lips at the butler's stiff back. It was probably a good thing he had not come yesterday, uninvited. He doubted he would have got past Forbes unless he had been prepared to wrestle him to the ground.

The Marquess of Claverbrook was in the drawing room, seated in a high-backed chair he had possessed forever, close to a roaring fire despite the fact that it was a warmish spring day. Heavy velvet curtains were half drawn across the windows to block most of the sunlight. The air was heavy with the smell of the ointment he used for his rheumatism.

Duncan made his bow.

"Sir," he said, "how do you do? I hope I find you well."

His grandfather, who had never been one to indulge in unnecessary chitchat, did not deign to deliver a health report. Neither did he greet his grandson or express any pleasure at seeing him again after so long. Nor did he demand to know why he was back in London when he had fled from it five years ago under the blackest cloud of scandal and disgrace. He knew why, of course, as his opening words revealed.

"Give me one good reason," he said, his bushy white eyebrows almost meeting over the bridge of his nose, a sharply defined frown line between his brows the only feature that revealed where one ended and the other began, "just one, Sheringford, why I should continue to fund your excesses and debaucheries."

He held a silver-headed wooden cane in both gnarled hands and thumped it on the floor between his feet to give emphasis to his displeasure.

There was one perfectly good reason-even apart from the fact that really there had not been a great many of either excesses or debaucheries. But his grandfather knew nothing about Toby and never would, if Duncan had any say in the matter. Nor would anyone else.

"Because I am your only grandson, sir?" Duncan suggested. And lest that not be sufficient reason, as doubtless it was not, "And because I plan to live respectably for the rest of my life now that Laura is dead?"

She had been dead for four months. She had taken a winter chill and just faded away-because, in Duncan's opinion, she had lost the will to live.

His grandfather's frown deepened, if that were possible, and he thumped the cane again.

"You dare mention that name in my hearing?" he asked rhetorically. "Mrs. Turner was dead to the world five years ago, Sheringford, when she chose to commit the unspeakable atrocity of running off with you, leaving her lawful husband behind."

It had happened on Duncan's twenty-fifth birthday-and, more to the point, on his wedding day. He had_abandoned his bride, virtually at the altar, and run away with her sister-in-law, her brother's wife. Laura. The whole thing had been one of the most spectacular scandals London had seen in years, perhaps ever. At least, he assumed it had. He had not been here to experience it in person.

He said nothing since this was hardly the time or the place for a discussion on the meaning of the word atrocity.

"I ought to have turned you out then without a penny," his grandfather told him. He had not been invited to sit down, Duncan noticed. "But I allowed you to continue drawing on the rents and income of Woodbine Park so that you would have the wherewithal to stay far away out of my sight-and out of the sight of all decent, respectable people. But now the woman is gone, unmourned, and you may go to the devil for all I care. You promised solemnly on my seventieth birthday that you would marry by your thirtieth and have a son in your nursery before your thirty-first. You abandoned Miss Turner at the altar five years ago, and you turned thirty six weeks ago."

Had he promised something so rash? Of course, he would have been a mere puppy at the time. Was this the explanation for the sudden cutting off of his funds? That his thirtieth birthday had come and gone and he was still a single man? He had been with Laura until four months ago, for the love of God. But not married to her, of course. Turner had steadfastly refused to divorce her. His grandfather had expected him to find a bride within the past four months, then, and marry her just to honor a promise made many years ago-by a boy who knew nothing of life?

"There is still time to produce an heir before my thirty-first birthday," he pointed out-a rather asinine thing to say, as his grandfather's reaction demonstrated. He snorted. It was not a pleasant sound.

"Besides," Duncan continued, "I believe you must have misremembered the promise I made, sir. I seem to recall promising that I would marry before your eightieth birthday."

Which was . . . when? Next year? The year after?

"Which happens to be sixteen days from now," his grandfather said with brows of thunder again. "
Where is your bride, Sheringford?"

Sixteen days? Damn it all!

Duncan strode across the room to the window in order to delay his answer, and stood looking down on the square, his hands clasped at his back. Could he pretend now that it was the eighty-fifth birthday he had named? He could not even remember the promise, for God's sake. And his grandfather might be making all this up just to discomfit him, just to give himself a valid excuse for cutting off his grandson from all funds. Woodbine Park, though a property belonging to the Marquess of Claverbrook, was traditionally granted to the heir as his home and main source of income. Duncan had always considered it his, by right of the fact that he was the heir after his father's death, even though he had not lived there for years. He had never taken Laura there.

"No answer," the marquess said after a lengthy silence, a nasty sneer in his voice. "I produced one son, who died at the age of forty-four when he had no more sense than to engage in a curricle race and try to overtake his opponent on a sharp bend in the road. And that one son produced one son of his own. You."

It did not sound like a compliment.

"He did, sir," Duncan agreed. What else was there to say?

"Where did I go wrong?" his grandfather asked irritably and rhetorically. "My brother produced five lusty sons before he produced any of his daughters, and those five in their turn produced eleven lusty sons of their own, at least two each. And some of them have produced sons."

"And so, sir," Duncan said, seeing where this was leading, "there is no danger of the title falling into abeyance anytime soon, is there? There is no urgent hurry for me to get a son."

It was the wrong thing to say-though there probably was no right thing.

The cane thumped the floor again.

"I daresay the title will pass to Norman in the not-too-distant future," his grandfather said, "after my time and after yours, which will not last even as long as your father's if you continue with the low life you have chosen. I intend to treat him as though he were already my heir. I will grant him Woodbine Park on my eightieth birthday."

Duncan's back stiffened as if someone had delivered him a physical blow. He closed his eyes briefly. This was the final straw. It was bad enough-nothing short of a disaster, in fact-that Woodbine and its rents were being withheld from him. But to think of Cousin Norman, of all people, benefiting from his loss . . . Well, it was a viciously low blow.

"Norman has a wife and two sons," the marquess told

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 97 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 98 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The third Huxtable Regency romance is simply great

    Five years ago, Lord Duncan Pennethorne caused the scandal of the decade when he jilted his fiancé to run away with her sister-in-law. He stayed away from London until now. His grandfather has written him to find a wife in fifteen days or he will inherit nothing but a name. Desperate not for himself but for four years old Toby, Duncan moves into the home of his mom and stepfather as he has a fortnight to marry a proper spouse.--------------

    At a ball, almost thirty and obviously on the shelf, Margaret Huxtable flees an unwanted suitor only to crash into Duncan. He quickly realizes she is perfect to satisfy his grandfather, but she proves to be a stubborn spinster. As he courts her and she rejects him, they become friends and soon fall in love. As each reveals their past secrets, they find hope in each other's arms until his scandal re-explodes. With her extended family in their court the lead couple believes love will bring justice to those who unfairly were punished and those who should have but were not.-----------------

    The third Huxtable Regency romance (see FIRST COMES MARRIAGE and THEN COMES SEDUCTION) is simply great as the story line takes a deep look at values that were powerful in the early nineteenth century and remain so today. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of two intelligent caring souls who try to always do the right thing even when the cost is their reputation. Fans will enjoy this superb entry while awaiting the last single Huxtable tale to be told.----------

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2014

    Another winner

    I started reading this series backwards. I've read Con Huxtable story. Then read Stephan's story. Now I've read Meg's story. This story is a great read and can be read with the series. Or on it's own. Ms. Balogh is one of the most gifted writers.

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  • Posted March 9, 2013

    Wonderful book!  Mary Balogh does not disappoint!!

    Wonderful book!  Mary Balogh does not disappoint!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    Liked this but didn't love...

    I liked this book, but I have to say that I didn't love it as much as the others. Meg just never really interested me a great deal and so I enjoyed the books about Vanessa and Kate much more than this one.

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  • Posted July 28, 2012

    Unique Way to Find Love - Interesting Story

    I enjoyed this novel though not as much as that of the other siblings.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011


    It was a good story that gave Mag's character a lot more depth while resolving her lingering storylines from the previous two books. Definitely one to read if you like the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2010

    Mixed Feelings

    I am torn about this book. There were elements that were great and I enjoyed how the love between the two protagonists builds slowly rather than some sort of instant chemical reaction that happens in most novels of this sort. However, the book took to long to explain the hero's actions and the ending was not entirely satsifactory. For villans as henious as depicted in the book, you would expect more from the final confrontation that you ultimately receive.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Least Fav

    This was my least favorite in the Huxtable group so far. They kept repeating the same story over and over again. Plus Meg and Duncan didn't really seem that into each other.

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  • Posted October 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    At Last Comes Love is great story

    This is a heartwarming, intriguing story between Margaret and Duncan. It's one of those books that you could just FEEL the characters falling in love. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable. Margaret is a strong character whom I could relate to. She felt real. I thought she was a bit more of a complex character than Duncan was, but Duncan was is possibly one of my favorite heroes EVER. He's a rake and is completely sweet. He's not one of those aloof heroes who really annoy me. There is a happy ending, in spite of the fact that there appears to be an illegitimate child involved. This of course is not true, but a case of Lord Sheringford protecting a hapless and dying female and her young son.
    Once again the Huxtable family has another good and happy marriage in its ranks, and we have a lucious read. Great writing, story, characterization.

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  • Posted July 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Charming and Romantic

    I always enjoy Mary Balough's family series! I love this sister's fierst loyalty to her family and her ability to laugh at herself. I thought the story line was great, a little dark and mysterious but very credible in dealing with spousal abuse. The fact that the male lead character was as hard and honorable as he was gentle and loving was icing on the cake!

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    It was quite charming.

    I really enjoyed this book. I had read all of the books proceeding this and I desperately hoped that Margaret Huxtable would finally find someone well suited for herself. Duncan Pennethorne, the Earl of Sheringford is the perfect amount of gentleman and scoundrel to keep Margaret on her toes.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    Mary Balogh at her best!

    This is the third in a series and my favorite so far. The first one was so much like "Pride and Prejudice" it was uncomfortable reading it. But this book is unique and alot of fun.

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  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A serious underlying theme that gives meat to the story of Margaret Huxtable and Duncan Pennethorne is that of prevailing marriage laws that condone the bondage of wives to their husbands.

    Now that her sisters have all married well and her brother has grown into his title of Earl of Merton, where does that leave Meg? Thirty, unmarried, still beautiful, but definitely on the shelf. Her early love, Crispin Dew has returned from Spain a widower with a young daughter along with expectations to make Meg his wife without much of an effort. And her old reliable Marquess of Allingham has up and gotten himself affianced! What's more, Meg has impulsively told Crispin she will introduce him to her secret betrothed at that evening's ball. What does she do? She flees and bumps into a very disagreeable, but memorable, man of her own age, who promptly proposes. Thus begins the amazing 'courtship' of Margaret Huxtable and the notorious bride jilter/wife stealer Duncan Pennethorne, the Earl of Sheringford. His strange history earns her respect; they marry and proceed to try to fall in love. More dark twists to come and more trials to surmount before they do.

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  • Posted June 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Tired of historical romances featuring those in their 20s? Check this one out.

    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 of Crystal Reviews (

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2009

    Dull and disappointing

    After reading and enjoying the other books in the Huxtable series, Margaret's story was quite a let down. The book was predictable and the characters only marginally interesting. It was lots of talk and little action. Read the other books in the series and skip this one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2009

    Kind of dull

    Everyone was just so proper...the character were boring, There seemed to be no passion between the two main character...I cant even remember their names....I like Mary Balogh...I bought this book brand new, but I did not even finish it.

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    Posted July 22, 2011

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    Posted August 6, 2010

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    Posted June 22, 2011

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    Posted March 29, 2009

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