Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Loretta Chase - Miss Wonderful

Due to his history of expensive romantic entanglements, Alistair Carsington now has six months to find
either a useful occupation or a wealthy heiress to wed. To prove he is not an idle fop only concerned with sartorial pleasures, Alistair agrees to help his old friend, Lord Gordmor, by traveling to the wilds of Derbyshire to convince Gordmor's neighbors to support the nobleman's proposal to build a canal.
Upon arriving, Alistair, a famous war hero and eligible bachelor, finds everyone couldn't be nicer, everyone except for respectable, practical, spinsterish Mirabel Oldridge. The last thing Mirabel wants is for her tranquil little corner of England to be destroyed by a noisy, nasty canal, and she is prepared to use every weapon at her disposal--including her disheveled coiffure and unstylish wardrobe--to stop Alistair.

Comment: I'm tackling the Carsington series by Loretta Chase in the following months and this is the first book in the series.

In this story we meet Alistair Carsington, the middle brother of five, and the one who has no luck with love for all his relationships have not gone well. His father also gives him an ultimatum because of how much he spends: he needs to find a solution otherwise his younger brothers will not receive their allowance so he can pay Alistair's bills. This propels Alistair to accept his good friend Lord Gordmor's request to deal with the obstacles to build a canal in Derbyshire, which will help with the coal mines he owns. However, the biggest opponent to the canal is lord Oldridge...or to be precise, his daughter Mirabel. It's true Alistair knows how to seduce a crowd and a woman but Mirabel doesn't seem to affected, which is unfortunate, since Alistair himself falls rather quickly for her...

This author's style is quite peculiar. The situations described and the characters' actions are given to the reader with a very interesting style, one I admit I'm not always fond of, especially if it makes me confused as to what I'm supposed to understand from it. I would say the author has a certain taste for the ironic, for the intentional "read between the lines" style. It means not everything is always obvious between the characters' interactions and what they say. I can't tell if it's just the fact English is not my mother tongue so some things just pass me by when it comes to see through this or if the author has such a style that I just don't fully love.

This aside, it doesn't mean her stories aren't always fun to read. The characters, even among their flaws, are larger than life and their path always leads them into love and accomplishments. At least all the novels by her I've read so far have done so. That is also what I expected in this novel and I got it. Of course, thinking on what I wrote above, I should say some things were just taken for granted when it came to character's's not very much explained why they are that way, we just have to accept it and go with it. Perhaps the exception is the main couple but we do spend the majority of the time with them.

Alistair is a character who seemed quite a dandy, irresponsible and concerned about superficial things such as his clothes. The author was quite sneaky by letting the reader think him a snob and a silly man. In fact, he is a "war hero" and when he got to follow his thoughts, we realize there's much more to him. He still suffers of what we say now as being PTSD and he came home with a limp. The way he dealt with this was quite a point in favor to his character because with time I started to like him more and I was actually a little sorry for him, because appearances tell us he doesn't feel much support from his family even if he believes that to be normal.

Mirabel is headstrong and a believer of things done properly. She has also taken charge of her home and propriety because her father is often too distracted, a consequence of dealing with grief after her mother died. I could sympathize with her on why she felt the canal would not be a good option for the region and I liked how a solution for this was found. She often acts a little too severely but deep down she only wants to do things right and help those who need it.

As for their romance, there were some moments I doubted how suited they could be and I think a few more scenes where they actually talked seriously instead of by ironies or trying to get the better of one another, I'd be more easily convinced of their odds as a long term couple. Still, all the necessary things were there at some point to make them reach a HEA by the end. There's also a villain who plays a minor but key role closer to the end and that emphasizes how well they deserve happiness, even allowing for understanding each other's less appealing qualities.

As a whole, this was entertaining, not as addictive to me as other books by the same author were, but I'm definitely willing to read the other installments as well.

Grade: 7/10

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