“Alistair Carsington really, really wishes he didn’t love women so much. To escape London’s many temptations, he sets out for the wilds of Derbyshire, where he hopes to kill two birds with one stone: avoid dangerous impulses and repay the friend who saved his life at Waterloo. But this noble aim drops him straight into opposition with Miss Mirabel Oldridge, a woman every bit as intelligent, obstinate, and devious as he—and maddeningly irresistible.
Mirabel already has her hands full keeping her brilliant but eccentric father out of trouble. The last thing she needs is a stunningly attractive, overobservant, and overbright aristocrat reminding her she has a heart—not to mention a body he claims is so unstylishly clothed that undressing her is practically a civic duty.
Could the situation be any worse? And why does something so wrong feel so very wonderful?”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
*light spoilers below*
Miss Wonderful (Carsington Brothers #1) by Loretta Chase was given as a gift to me (along with the next two books in the series) a couple months ago. It wasn’t something I would have chosen on my own, because historical romances were not on my radar. However, they absolutely are now after reading this.
I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I was going to. Like most of the world, I watched Bridgerton on Netflix over the holidays and that gave me a good idea of what to expect with this particular genre. Not being particularly well-versed in historical England, I thought it would be hard to follow the story but that was not the case. This was an easy read that captured my attention from the beginning and was such a delight!
There is definitely a plot moving this story along but I am always drawn to characters first and foremost so that is mainly what I will be discussing below.
Maribel Oldrigde and Alistair Carsington are at the heart of this story. I almost don’t even know where to begin with Maribel because she is such a multi-faceted character. She has essentially been running her family’s estate for the past decade ever since her mother died and her father became somewhat eccentric and reclusive. Maribel is incredibly smart and I found the first few chapters with her repeatedly outsmarting Alistair to be very entertaining.
When Maribel hears about the plans to build a canal in Derbyshire, which will run directly through her family’s estate, she sets out to convince the other landowners that the project should be opposed. She does a very effective job of this, making Alistair’s job of getting the canal approved that much harder.
Alistair’s character was more complicated than I was expecting. He and Maribel are butting heads for the better part of the book. Alistair’s obsession with his clothes leads Maribel to believe he is a “dandy” and she uses it as a means to rattle him so that she can get her way and have the canal project either re-routed away from her estate or cancelled altogether. Still, they have an instant attraction to one another which they refuse to acknowledge at first.
“She smiled then, and his heart warmed as though it basked in summer sunshine. His brain, unfortunately, warmed as well, and commenced melting. He doubted he’d ever encountered a weapon more deadly than that smile.”from Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase
I thought that Alistair’s backstory of being the famous Waterloo hero was fascinating considering that he couldn’t remember anything about the battle due to temporary amnesia that lasted for years. There was a refreshing discussion between Alistair and his best friend about mental health. They both eventually came to acknowledge that what happened in battle would have been terrifying to anyone, and that Alistair shouldn’t have been ashamed for hiding those feelings for so long.
There was a lot going on at the ending and it seemed like every chapter had another exciting new development. The story wrapped up nicely and I thought it was a great ending to the book. I could easily see someone being satisfied with that ending and not feeling pressured to continue the series.
I am so glad that I was given the first three books in this series because I will definitely be reading the next two soon. I also now have my eye out for future historical romances to read.