Chase, Loretta: (101) Miss Wonderful

After reading Mr. Impossible, I went back to the beginning of Loretta Chase’s series with Miss Wonderful. To my surprise and delight, this was very close to being just as good.

Alistair Carsington has a history of falling in love “quickly, deeply, and disastrously.” (The list of his “Episodes of Stupidity” in the Prologue is wonderful.) After the last scandal, his father packed him off into the army, just in time for him to be seriously injured at Waterloo. Now a reluctant war hero, he is determined to save his fortune, and the fortune of his friend, by getting a canal approved.

Mirabel Oldridge has been running her botanist father’s estates for years, and vehemently opposes the canal plan. She’s not alone in her opposition–but she’s the only one willing to stand against a noble-born war hero.

One of the things I like about Chase’s books to date is that they’re about something other than the romance plot. Here, the proposed canal poses a genuine dilemma, and I admire its handling more than I can say without spoilers. More, it’s intertwined with character problems and growth that are, again, independent of the romance plot. Being both sensible and charming is a good trick, but one which this book manages.

My only quibble is with the book’s portrayal of recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which struck me as edging toward facile. Which is peculiar, because the book’s treatment of reactions to Waterloo seemed nuanced otherwise. It’s a very small element of the book, however, which I enjoyed very much.

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