le 26 avril 2004
I was (ahem) transported with joy when I found out that Loretta Chase was releasing a new novel. Between new releases from her, Kinsale and Crusie, what more can a romance novel fan ask for? I was feeling somewhat wary though, given what a terrible book her last effort (The Last Hellion) had turned out to be. And yes, I know I'm in the minority in this opinion, but I stand by my statement: The Last Hellion was awful and riddled with cliches and bad plot devices, especially when one knows what Chase can achieve.
But I digress. Miss Wonderful is a fun and tremendously well-written book, a most promising return to Chase's fine form. Her ability to give depth to her characters, and to offer true insights into human nature not normally offered by popular fiction of ANY kind, is nothing short of awe-inspiring, and Miss Wonderful contains her fair share of well-developed and lovingly rendered characters. The primary conflict the characters go through is very believable, and Chase makes their actions an extension of their personalities instead of tossing conflict willy-nilly into the mix to pad out the book.
Chase has also retained her wonderful way with words, and once again her ear for the cadences of British upper-class speech is among the best I've ever encountered outside of somebody who actually knew the life first-hand, like Heyer.
It's not quite as good as her very best novels (in my opinion: Lord of Scoundrels, The Lion's Daughter, Knave's Wager and The Devil's Delilah) but then not much is. It's still undoubtedly one of the best romances I've read all year. If you were a big fan of The Last Hellion, the quiet charms of Miss Wonderful may not satisfy. If you were longing for Chase to return to her "old" self, then rejoice, sit back, and enjoy Miss Wonderful.
le 10 mars 2004
At last!!! I've been reduced to re-reading my complete collection of Loretta Chase's witty, passionate and beautifully written books for years ... there's literally no one quite her!
She has Mary Jo Putney's passion and willingness to look unflinchingly at tough emotional issues; she has the vivid and endearing characters of Georgette Heyer; the sheer sexiness and emotional impact of Mary Balogh and Gaelen Foley ... but no one, NO ONE can match her sly, sharp and absolutely irresistible sense of humor.
If you're in the market for an intelligent, sexy and emotionally fulfilling historical, I have GREAT news for you! All of her books are being re-issued, including my absolute favorite, Sandalwood Princess, over the next year. If you've just discovered Loretta Chase, prepare yourself for an absolute feast of insights, giggles, snickers, sighs and smiles.
That said, this book is quite different from the last several which she wrote, including Lord of Scoundrels, which has made the top 5 of every "Greatest Romance Ever Written" list I've seen ... the characters themselves remind me more of her earlier work, but with the more complex plot and depth of the more recent work.
In this story, our hero Alistair is the second son of an Earl, a celebrated hero of Waterloo, a dandy, and a man who loves women hugely and impulsively. Mirabel is far too busy managing a vast country estate for her fuzzy-headed father to care much about her appearance, but she certainly *does* care about the fact that the fabulously handsome, beautifully turned out Alistair is threatening everything she's worked for all her life ... and she's not going to let him get away with it!
Sound like a familiar plot? Well, maybe, but I won't tell you more, except to say that what you see is not what you get! Naturally you'll fall in love with them both, and with all the secondary characters (well, not ALL of them ... some are absolute villains!), while learning from them about solving the challenges of the heart, mind and community.
Oh, YOU know what I'm trying to say. Run, do not walk, to your Amazon.com cart and BUY THIS BOOK!
le 10 mars 2004
For as long as he can remember, Alistair Carsington, has caused his father, the Earl of Hargate, a great deal of trouble and money. At first, it was his tendency to fall in love at the drop of a hat; but now, since his return from the Peninsula Wars, it is the tremendous amount of money that he has spent on clothes. This time, however, the earl has had enough, and has issued an ultimatum: marry an heiress in six months or else the earl will settle the money he would have left Alistair's younger brothers on Alistair himself. Fortunately for Alistair, his best friend, Gordmor has a scheme. Gormor would like to build a canal that would allow him to move the coal from his coal mines more easily. And he invites Alistair to be a partner in this venture. Alistair's part will be to persuade a few land owners as to the desirability of the scheme. And so, even though it is the middle of winter, Alistair makes for the wilds of Derbyshire, only to find that the biggest stumbling block to his plans and riches lies in the shape of a maddeningly attractive but unfashionably dressed gentlewoman, Mirabel Oldridge, who has been running her father's estate for more than a decade now. This time, Alistair is determined to keep his mind on the prize and not fall in love. But the distracting Mirabel has sneakily stolen his heart. Will Alistair be able to keep his head planted firmly on his shoulders, or will love make his forget his resolve?
After what seems like a very long absence, Loretta Chase is back again, and all I can say is that the wait has been well worth it. "Miss Wonderful" is one of the wittiest and more charming novels I've read in a long while. The storyline is a basic one (hero meets heroine, both are powerfully attracted to each other, but there is a stumbling block to their developing relationship -- they both want different things), so that what really sets "Miss Wonderful" head and shoulders above other Regency-era romance novels of similar stripe, are 1) the prose style (witty and humourous); and 2) her engaging character portrayals of Alistair and Mirabel. Both characters are likable and sympathetic. While Mirabel was a strong, intelligent and resolute heroine, she definitely was not one of those feisty, totty-headed and bad tempered heroines who wouldn't be able to think her way out of a paper-bag but who seem (for some reason or the other) to people this genre an awful lot! While Alistair was a gem of a hero: honest and passionate and immensely nice. Both characters want an end result that seems to be in direct opposition of each other, and the authour's even handed stand on the issue of the canal, so that you got to see both sides of this arguement, made the novel all the more compelling and interesting. All in all, "Miss Wonderful" proved to be an engaging, entertaining and passionate romance novel, and if you're looking for a well written and wonderfully romantic novel to unwind with, I'd urge checking "Miss Wonderful" out.
le 8 mars 2004
First of all, let me say that I am a BIG fan of Loretta Chase. She creates wonderfully original characters and her writing style is clean, witty and very readable. Be prepared to fall in love with her heroes! In my opinion, no one compares with Lord Dain (Lord of Scoundrels) as a sexy, lovable, all-around terrific hero. *yum!*
I had been looking forward to Miss Wonderful for months, ever since I heard she was publishing a new book. Unfortunately, I can't say that I enjoyed it very much. In fact, I found myself actually skipping ahead of the story, which is the only time I've been able to say that about one of Ms. Chase's stories. IMHO, her characters never came alive and their motivations were frequently confusing or simply silly. Why does Mirabel object so strenuously to the canal? For environmental or life style reasons? After reading the book the best answer I can give is that she hates all change. Nothing should change in her little part of England. EVER. Alistair's past, which directly leads to his involvement in Mirabel's life, doesn't make him sound like a rake or a ladies-man, it just makes him sound easily distracted and silly. And the "explanation" given at the end of the book for their meeting is just too far fetched to be enjoyable.
That said, Ms. Chase continues to write clean, readable stories and there is no doubt I will be eagerly awaiting her next book. Unfortunately, Miss Wonderful just isn't up to her usual standards.
If you want to read a wonderful romance, go find Lord of Scoundrels, The Last Hellion or The Mad Earl's Bride (short story from Three Weddings & a Kiss - the story alone is worth the price of the book).
le 2 mars 2004
In 1817 Earl Edward Carsington is tired of paying the bills for his third of five sons and the oldest unmarried one. He demands that Alistair in his late twenties either finds a wealthy wife or earns income through business. Rather than wed, the melancholy war "hero" joins his friend Lord Gordmor in building a canal in Derbyshire.
Some of the local landowners oppose the project so Alistair heads north to persuade them to support the canal endeavor. The opposition leader is spinster Mirabel Oldridge who is a couple of years older than Alistair. As she deftly sabotages his support through her silver tongue, they fall in love. However, he believes the canal is a boom while she believes it is a bust leaving a gap wider than his proposal to keep them apart.
Fans will enjoy this wonderful Regency romance that takes the contemporary issue of environment vs. development back to its roots in early nineteenth century England. The story line is crisp as Mirabel and Alistair debate the merits and demerits of the impact of a canal on the locality even as both fall in love. The secondary cast adds depth to the debate so that the audience receives a terrific historical tale with modern day implications.
le 13 avril 2004
I work at home and am usually disciplined worker, but it's hopeless. Two workdays are shot because I had to read this book. Her characters are too interesting and original (and incredibly appealing), her style is fresh and skilled and packed a lovely silky punch of the best kind of Regency -- great dialogue, fun secondary characters. The book is hotter than a traditional regency but not just gratuitiously. The hero and heroine remain true to their natures even in bed. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much -- I didn't put the thing down unless I was forced to. I love the honesty and wit of the hero and heroine's interactions. They were the best of enemies.
Oooo I can't wait to buy the backlist!
le 21 mai 2004
Once again Loretta Chase makes readers care about wonderful characters struggling to be loyal and honorable and not to fall in love. With hairpins flying and war wounds aching, Mirabel and Alistair challenge each other on every page. Like all of Chase's best characters, they must fight yet ultimately yield to a disastrous streak of sensuality on their way to becoming fully and courageously who it is they are meant to be. Fans of her earlier novel "The Lion's Daughter" will love this one, too.
le 28 mars 2004
I've waited a long while for another novel from Loretta Chase. This ones is enjoyable, but not quite as good as her last two novels - The Hellion and Lord of Scoundrels.
The characters in Miss Wonderful are fun, though. The dialogue is whitty and quick and you do feel attached to them, but for some reason the spark is not as bright as her previous books.
It is definitely worth taking a look at, so please give it a try. If you do, read her other novels.
le 6 avril 2004
Where has Loretta Chase gone to? She took several years off after LOS and The Last Hellion, to write this book. Why?
Try as I might, I can't see a 31 year old spinster- during the Regency Period -to be a heroine. And the hero? A fribbish fop!
No, go back, Loretta, do what you do best- humor, real people - complicated plots - elegant language - did I mention real people?. Give me another LOS or another Vere. TRY!
le 14 mars 2004
I usually can read a book in 1 or 2 days getting so caught up in the story but it took me a week to read this book. It was so boring. Finally toward the end I just started skipping sections. I am much more into fast paced fun reads - that make me stay up all night - not wanting to put the book down. This one bored me to sleep.