Sunday, January 9, 2011

At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh ***

At Last Comes Love (Huxtable Quintet, #3)At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book 3 of the Huxtable Quintet series, on audio, all narrated by Anne Flosnik. What did I think?

I think Flosnik has picked up a little speed in her narration, which makes it eminently more listenable, and there weren't as many scenes for her to be overly emotional (excepting Duncan's mama, who was always emotional). Without the breathy emotional scenes, it wasn't as irritating as Book 2 where she embarrassed me by..., well, read my review.

I think Flosnik's narration has not enhanced the experience of this series, and I wonder if I had read it, if I might have enjoyed it more. But it's too late - now I have her voice in my head.

I think the introduction of domestic violence and sexual depravity into the story might have given it more depth and emotion except I felt inured, and I think that's associated with hearing Flosnik read it. Jo Goodman uses these in pretty much every story, and she still manages to evoke an emotional response in me every time.

I think the gossip-forced-marriage conceit has run its course in this series - surely not everyone in the family will be forced to marry someone they just met and do not even particularly like. Or maybe they will. The 5th book is about cousin Con, where there's apparently a mystery to solve (I think it's Why Does Elliott hate Con?), which I hope makes it a different and potentially better story.

I think I'd rather hear Barbara Rosenblat or Davina Porter read the last 2. Alas, it is not to be. 3 stars all around - not awful but not great.

BELOW IS MY ORIGINAL REVIEW before I went over to Goodreads and wrote my smaller review:

I'm still wondering if Flosnik's funny accent thing she does might be coloring my experience in this series. I have liked other Balogh stories but in this one - well, if the heroines don't stop going on and on and on and ON about the same damn things over and over, I'm just gonna have to whoop one of them! This time it's Margaret, the oldest Huxtable, who keeps thinking and saying "But it's all my fault because I was the one who lied...", over and OVER AND O V E R . grrrr. So many times I found myself actually talking out loud to the characters!

This was another of those "there's a scandal that forces them to marry" conceits, just like the last one in the series. In addition, Margaret's own true love from 12 years ago returned, widowed, and was interested in her and she even admits she might still be in love with him. But does she give him a chance? NO! Really! We are to be led to the conclusion that he was never the right one for her, but meanwhile I kept thinking, she could at least talk to him. She decides to lie to him, which is really where the "over and over" stuff starts - she keeps reminding everyone and his dog that because she lied to Crispin, it was all her fault that Lord Sheringford ended up the focus of gossip that forced them to marry.

Once again, Flosnik's voice comes into question, because then Sheringford and Margaret get into these long-winded preachy conversations that seemed so unrealistic that I let my mind wander so I didn't keep talking to them - out loud, fer chrissake. Would I have felt differently about the prose if I just let the words go in through my eyes to my brain, instead of filtering them through Flosnik's odd voice into my ears?

Ah, a plot: Margaret lies to Crispin to keep from looking pathetic, saying she has a fiance. She actually thinks she'll accept old whatshisname's proposal this year, except guess what: whatshisname got tired of waiting for her, and nabbed another eligible woman. Now Margaret, truly on the shelf at 30, is desperate for a fiance. She runs from the ballroom and smacks right into Duncan, Earl of Sheringford, who is also desperate to marry so he can keep from getting cut off from his funds. He jokingly/seriously says to her: shall we dance, and then get married and live happily ever after? And she accepts.

Oh, wait, then she finds out about his past: 5 years ago he jilted a woman and ran off with that woman's sister-in-law the day of the wedding, living with her in sin until she died 4 months ago. Then, blah blah blah, yada yada yada, we have to have several dozen pages of conflict where Margaret can't decide if she will actually marry Duncan, stringing him along. Of course, there's a perfectly plausible reason why he did what he did - but it would be a spoiler to tell it.

They get married (as you knew they would), there's more conflict, then HEA. 3 stars.

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