Well... this is NOT my favorite book in the Huxtable series so far. I really, really wanted Stephen to be the one with the light, fun, witty romance. But, I didn't feel as if Stephen was "too good to be true" or terribly "naive". True, he didn't expect to marry until he was older, but that didn't mean he couldn't or wouldn't marry. After all, he's 25 years old - that's not too young. Neither did I feel as if Stephen was an angel. Stephen was raised well, mostly by Meg, but he had 3 sisters. He truly adored them. And I think, he understands women because he's used to being surrounded by them.Besides, Stephen has a need to RESCUE someone. He sort of rescued his sisters when he became the Earl of Merton, although that wasn't due to his own actions. But he was able to take them from a life of poverty and help them to become part of Society. Because of that, his sisters are all well-married, even if there was rough road to the "happily ever after" part. In fact, one of his sisters even mentions that to Cassandra -- that the three girls are happy now, but each had her own rough road to that HEA.My theory is that Stephen longed to rescue someone... he's truly a romantic. He was only able to do so much for each of his sisters when they faced their own trials. He couldn't rescue them, but he could stand up for them, punch out the bullies for them (Clarrie), and give his full support. But he was always in the background, because of his age.While Stephen didn't set out to rescue Lady Paget (Cassandra), I think the idea appealed to him, especially when he discovered she'd been beaten by her husband. Remember, Meg's husband Duncan ran off with a woman who'd been beaten by her husband -- to save her from that abuse. With Cass, he finds that not only did she suffer beatings, but that the previous Lord Pagett was also a drinker. Her step-son, Bruce - the current Lord Pagett, is a bully who denied Cass a living and all but framed her for his father's murder. AND Stephan discovered that Cassandra's mother died giving birth to her brother... and that their father was a gambler. She didn't know stability, except for her governess/companion and Mary, the maid.For the first time in his life, Stephen truly has someone and something to fight for -- for his very own. I think that was part of why he fell in love with her. He knew she needed him, and he was too honorable to treat her as a mistress, because she wasn't a seasoned courtesan. Perhaps he would have taken a mistress, he even mentions doing so; but only if the mistress "knew the rules to the game". And perhaps, even then, Stephen wouldn't have been able to continue the relationship. Because he *is* a decent and honorable man.I can't say that I was overly impressed with Cassandra, but I did understand her passive-aggressive behavior. And I really liked the moment that she realized she's allowed herself to be a victim. That was a turning point for her. She surrounded herself with those who loved her and were faithful to her -- women, because she knew she could trust them.What bothered me the most, though, was how quickly everything happened. I'm sure in the Ton days, it might not have been unusual to announce a betrothal and marry shortly thereafter. (I guess we saw all 3 of the sisters do that, come to think of it.) But... there were a LOT of events that occurred in the space of 1 week. Then, we passed quickly through another few weeks and then months. My head was spinning!And the return of William was... too coincidental, wasn't it? I confess, I didn't equate him with the Billy that Mary constantly talked about. That confused me, too.The true events of the previous Lord Pagett's death were also... too pat. It was just too neatly wrapped up - even convincing Bruce to stop being such a jerk. (Although Stephen, once again, had the pleasure of roughing up another jerk.)I guess it's not my favorite because it wasn't the story I wanted for Stephen. And I'm still not sure that I like Cass, despite all that she went through and how she managed to hold herself and Alice, Mary, and Belinda together.I'm hoping I won't have similar trouble with Con's story. It's the one I've most been anticipating!