My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Knowing that several readers think that this book is one of Ms. Chase's weakest releases, I didn't have high expectations when I started reading it and I admit I decided to read it only because I wanted to read the next books in this series and I'm OCD about reading series in order. Well, I owe my OCD a big thanks, because I really enjoyed reading this book.
The Right Honorable Edward Junius Carsington, Earl of Hargate, is worried about his 3rd son, 29-year-old Baffle to All Human Understanding, the Honorable Alistair Carsington. The "boy"'s Episodes of Stupidity have cost his lordship a small fortune over the years and it's time he put a stop to them. So Alistair is given an ultimatum: he must find a way to earn his own money to support his expensive way of life or his younger brothers will be "robbed" of their inheritances so their father can keep paying his bills. Of course, the Earl of Hargate's fortune isn't in any danger, he just wants his son to "reform". Faced with such ultimatum, Alistair decides to join his friend Lord Gordmor in business, hoping to become financially independent as
Miss Mirabel Oldridge, the 31-year-old spinster daughter of the largest landowner in Derbyshire, is strongly opposed to Lord Gordnor's canal - and she isn't shy to state her position when she meets Alistair. Even though she's "a mere woman" and has no vote in the matter, Alistair's sense of honor demands that he seek her approval because, due to her father's absentness, she is the actual manager of the Oldridge estate. Unfortunately, she refuses to explain why she's so set against Lord Gordnor's canal, telling him that that would give Alistair an unfair advantage in the negotiations, so he's given no other choice than to spend time with her in order to extract, understand and counteract her reasoning. And thus the battle of wills begins...
The title of this book should have been "Mr. Wonderful", not "Miss Wonderful". Alistair was charming, honorable, funny and oh-so-wonderful. (Sorry, but you knew this was coming, LOL.) He was definitely a dandy, but he wasn't shallow. It was clear that his obsession with clothes and fashion hid something deeper, something related to his war days and his almost death at the Battle of Waterloo. I loved him!
On the other hand, I had problems with Mirabel. She was capable, practical and smart, but she confused me. I finished the book without understanding why she was so opposed to the canal. Even after she finally told Alistair what allegedly bothered her and he made all the changes in the project to appease her worries, she kept protesting and fighting the whole deal. Why? Just to be contrary? Silly woman! I also didn't like all the tricks she used to thwart the building of the canal. One of them was particularly too ruthless and I don't know how Alistair forgave her that easily. He should have made her grovel... and grovel.
Given the premise of the book, I expected the confrontation between Alistair and Mirabel to be the primary focus of the story. Gladly, I was not disappointed. Even though I wasn't Mirabel's biggest fan, I enjoyed her interactions with Alistair, loved their easy banter and, especially, the way Alistair was driven to distraction by Mirabel's lack of fashion sense. She dressed dreadfully, her hair was constantly on the verge of falling down, and he went mad trying to control the urge to fix her. Funny stuff, LOL.
All things considered, this was a very good read. I loved Ms. Chase's writing, Alistair was great and the story was fun. Too bad Mirabel wasn't as wonderful as promised by the title.
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