Even after admitting that the second book in this trilogy was not quite as strong and interesting for me as I would have hoped, I still maintain that the series as a whole is the best Pride and Prejudice re-telling I've read.
Pamela Aidan had so much material to work with in this third book and I thoroughly enjoyed her version of the events as told from Fitzwilliam Darcy's standpoint. The first time I read this series I was intrigued by the title of this, the final segment. It turns out that it is taken from a verse in the Bible: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13
This book begins with the journey of Darcy and his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, making their annual Easter pilgrimage to Rosings to look over the business interests of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. At this point Darcy has not had any interaction with Elizabeth Bennett since the Netherfield ball but she has been almost constantly on his mind. Ms. Aidan had Darcy engage in some rather unpleasant times during the second segment of this trilogy and I'm glad to say that is all behind him and he has returned to being more of the Darcy I like. There is a character written into this series which I really enjoyed, that of Darcy's University friend and rival Lord Dyfed Brougham. Dy, as he is referred to by Darcy, plays a very shadowy part in helping Darcy navigate the sinister happenings in "Duty and Desire" and once again appears in this book. Lord Brougham's interest in Georgiana is also a continuing theme throughout the three books and I sincerely wish that plot thread could have been continued - perhaps even in another book concentrating on Georgiana.
After the disaster of Darcy proposing marriage to Elizabeth this book really concentrates on the aspects of Darcy's personality which caused Elizabeth to turn his proposal down. His personality takes a long, realistic time to transition from a self-centered, selfish individual into the man Elizabeth could love. I especially appreciated all the details Ms. Aidan contrived to show how Darcy went about finding Wickham and Lydia and how much he sacrificed in order to solve their problems. With all of his actions being done to honor Elizabeth and the entire Bennett family. Gone was the Darcy who only thought about how every situation would reflect upon himself and his heritage. In that place was a man who had compassion, sympathy and love enough for others to want to make their lives easier. In order to help the Bennetts he was willing to put his personal animosity toward Wickham in the background. He saw what was the right thing to do and then he did it. Marvelous character depiction by Ms. Aidan.
I highly recommend these expansions of the Pride and Prejudice story. Even though I feel that Ms. Aidan fell slightly off the rails with the second book, I still love to put everything else aside and totally immerse myself in this trilogy to see these characters from different vantage points. Any reading list of Pride and Prejudice variations will not be complete without including "An Assembly Such As This", "Duty and Desire", and "These Three Remain".