Loretta Chase





Berkley Sensation, March 2004
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

Regency Romance

Alistair Carsington, a hero of Waterloo and third son of the Earl of Hargate, has been given an ultimatum by his father. Find a bride and settle down, or risk going through the funds intended for his two younger brothers. Sadly, the Earl finds himself stretched too thin to provide a financial stake for all five of his sons. Especially since Alistair's father has been forced to buy him out of enough peccadilloes to put the family funds in jeopardy. Alistair, who was wounded at Waterloo, has become a national hero. He also has a weakness for the fairer sex that leads him into many troublesome relationships, and makes him cautious about finding a suitable mate.

Alistair decides to join his friend, Lord Gordmor, in a business venture that could be the answer to his financial woes. On a business trip to promote a canal project, he meets an unusual woman who provokes and attracts him. But is his weakness for women stirring up this feeling or is she truly as wonderful as she seems?

Mirabel Oldridge is a thirty-one year old spinster who still has the looks of a young girl. She's a country bred miss who doesn't care a whit for clothes or silly conventions. Ten years earlier her father's health, and problems on their estate, cut short a spectacular London season and she returned home to take charge. Now, Mirabel manages Oldridge Hall, acting as her father's agent, while her father indulges his passion for botany. When a war hero comes to promote the building of a canal through their land, she finds herself challenged, intrigued, and confused by her feelings.

MISS WONDERFUL displays Ms. Chase's talent for creating fascinating characters and unique conflicts. Alistair is beyond the usual scope of a regency heroes, challenged by a crippling war injury, and suffering from battle fatigue which he hides very well. He hides his vulnerabilities behind the mien of a dandy with a wicked sense of humor of the Scarlet Pimpernel variety. Mirabel is an intelligent and independent spinster. She's an earthy and natural beauty, but her unstylish dresses and carelessly groomed hair drive Alistair mad. With all these delightful ingredients I was surprised when the story began to unravel half way through, and the motivations and dialogue began sounding out of character for these two. I found the book a disappointment, but I loved the characters. Ms. Chase hints at possible sequels featuring Alistair's two younger brothers.


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