Amidst all the earth’s shaking and trembling, I have finally wormed my way through a book. I was reading Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and it was taking me forever to turn a page past 66 that I finally caved in and gave it up for later. Certain books just don’t feel right for a certain occasion, and reading about a glorious science fictional criticism of war is not really my way of coping with the fear of getting crushed to death in the middle of the night.
Funnily though, I found solace in a romance novel – one that I am not in the least embarrassed, and even a bit proud of, for picking up. I used to binge on romance novels while I was growing up and I enjoyed them – until I grew up and everything about love suddenly became petty and ridiculously unbelievable. Romance novels of the bland and graphic kind suddenly shot in superstardom and it became a huge embarrassment to be lugging around a book with covers in fancy fonts, featuring an unclothed male with large muscles, and bearing titles that are cheesy as frak. I mean, “At Last Comes Love” doesn’t really sound literary, but it’s not aiming to be. However low-brow people think romance novels can be, finding a fun Regency novel whose prose does not come second to telling a good story is very refreshing.
I enjoyed Mary Balogh’s At Last Comes Love. My heart did not come afluttering, it rarely does these days, but I genuinely grinned and giggled my way through Duncan Pennethorne (Earl of Sherringford), and Margaret Huxtable’s ridiculous love story. You see, Duncan Pennethorne (Earl of Sherringford) was threatened to lose his inheritance if he does not find himself a respectable wife in 15 days. 15 Days! With a scandalous past (he ran off with his then-bethrothed’s very-married sister-in-law five years ago), and a secret illegitimate child, it seemed very unlikely for Duncan Pennethorne (Earl of Sherringford) to find maidens throwing themselves at his feet.
Margaret, on the other hand, is thirty years old – ancient in the rules of regency romance, and has never been married. She is becoming increasingly desperate to find herself a husband, especially with the return of new-widower Crispin Dew, her first love and the taker of her uhm, womanhood, who promised to come back for her after going off to war but instead married a Spanish woman, thereby breaking her heart etc. etc.
One crazy ball, where she donned a lovely gown with her bosom almost spilling over, she bumped into a tipsy Duncan, who offered her a dance and a marriage and when confronted by Crispin, she hurriedly lied and declared Duncan to be his unofficial bethrothed. Sounds like a win-win, but of course, a marriage done for the wrong reasons doesn’t come easy.
Drama, drama, drama. There are so many things that happened, and it’s so much fun to unfold a romantic story under layers and layers of intrigues, lies and mystery. I would’ve missed out on a lot had I let my pretentiousness get the best of me. It’s crazy how prejudiced readers can be when it comes to literary genres – thankfully, I’m too old to give a fuck and I will enjoy a book regardless of what other people think of it. If it’s good, it’s good.
Obviously, I enjoyed Mary Balogh’s At Last Comes Love a lot, I was glad I picked it up on a very restless time, and I will definitely be on the look-out for other Baloghs in the future (hopefully a future without aftershocks).