Friday, March 4, 2011
The tempestuous marriage of Alexandra Lawrence, an innocent country girl, and Jordan Townsende, the rich and powerful Duke of Hawthorne, is about to face its ultimate test of tender loyalty. Swept into the endlessly fascinating world of London society, free-spirited Alexandra becomes ensnared in a tangled web of jealousy and revenge, stormy pride and overwhelming passion. But behind her husband's cold, arrogant mask, there lives a tender, vital, sensual man...the man Alexandra married. Now, she will fight for his very life...and the rapturous bond they alone can share.
Another winner by Judith McNaught! I simply love going through her backlist, it's a sheer joy to read her romances. Well written and passionate, they pack a wallop, often a roller coaster ride of emotions. She's one of the queens of romance and a favorite of mine. The relationships she writes are hot blooded with not a little angst, alpha heroes abound and her heroines have a winsome innocence to them that I love - Something Wonderful is no exception!
Jordan and Alexandra are the most unlikely couple. She, a country lass, is incredibly naive to the point where I nearly rolled my eyes. She doesn't even know what husband and wives do on their wedding night? C'mon! But, despite that, I liked her and was able to overlook it, it only adds to the plot later on in the book as she matures. He, on the other hand, is an experienced, worldly, man about town. A wealthy duke with estates and influence up the wazoo. Due to a strange quirk of fate, they are forced to marry. He doesn't want to, but because she saved his life, he unknowingly compromised her and ruined her reputation. He would be a cad if he did not marry her. It's the least he can do to this young innocent girl that doesn't deserve to be ruined for an act of kindness and bravery.
Alexandra is seventeen years old and green as green, the last person in the world he thought he'd ever wind up marrying. Being a cynic when it comes to love, he's not accustomed to her ingenuous heart of gold and joie de vivre. Between her optimism and his gradual fascination with her personality that is new and fresh, you get the feeling their marriage has potential - if only he'd drop his ballerina mistress. His first thought is to hide her away at one of his distant estates in Devon and carry on with his life - and mistress - in London. But, as they get to know one another before the wedding, things begin to blossom between them and Alexandra falls in love with him, just as any seventeen year old would. He's bigger than big, larger than life - and she's going to marry him! She develops major hero worship, although he still thinks of her like the little puppy she's adopted on their honeymoon. Yet, Alexandra's vivacious personality grows on him and by the time they marry and have their wedding journey, Jordan has become smitten by her guileless charm. It's catching. They christen their marriage bed en route to London and it's pure bliss, Alexandra is overwhelmingly in love with him even more. He'd never admit it, but he's coming around to her as well, maybe this marriage thing will work between them after all...
But, this isn't a story about two people getting to know one another after a forced marriage. It takes a twisty turn. Just when you think Jordan and Alexandra are going to have a great beginning to their marriage and get on with their lives, he gets knocked on the head and disappears! Oh no! I couldn't believe it! Everyone believes he's dead and after a year of mourning and missing him, Alexandra gets on with her life - alone - as his widow and duchess. She becomes sophisticated and develops some polish. Basically, she grows up and becomes a women. She's no longer the girl Jordan left behind.
Thanks to Jordan's grandmother's who grows to love Alex, she becomes the toast of the town and London society. But, while she's undergoing her transformation, she begins to hear the truth about what her husband had been like before she met him, and she doesn't like what she's hearing. She feels like a fool, all her hero worship evaporates as she finds out just what kind of man he had been like. Torn by her own memories of him and his notorious reputation as a ladies man she flings herself into have a grand old time. Although she remains chaste in her scandalous escapades, rumors abound about her as well, though none of them are true. To squelch the wagging tongues, she agrees to marry Jordan's cousin, Anthony (who inherited the dukedom) to settle down as his duchess. She doesn't love him, but it's a future she can live with.
Guess what happens just before they say "I do" in the church?
I was up and down over Jordan in this book. I kept wondering if McNaught was deliberately killing him off and we were going to read about Alexandra finding love with someone else - his cousin. I was mentally preparing myself for that kind of storyline, unsure of my feelings of whether I wanted her with Jordan or Anthony. At times I hated Jordan, he is not painted as a sympathetic character at first. He's haughty and unfeeling, plus a real womanizer with many sins in his past. While he was missing, Alexandra heard all about his exploits, his mistresses and paramours to the point where she was sickened by it. She was determined to erase his memory from her mind and start fresh again. Yet, upon his miraculous return Jordan wants his "wife" back. Uh-oh.
Can Alexandra accept the man who has returned as her husband? Faults and all? Can Jordan accept the accomplished and glamorous young woman his wife has turned into in his absence? It's as if he believes she has blossomed because he "died." He can't accept that she simply grew up. A lot has happened to both of them in the last two years, but one thing hasn't changed. Someone is still trying to murder him. Unfortunately, Jordan becomes convinced that Alex and her "fiance" Anthony are plotting to murder him. Grr! So much angst and miscommunication! They should be happy and loving each other and instead Jordan is being a jerk and brooding, brooding, brooding, taking it all out on innocent Alexandra who just wants to love him again and forget the past and move on. I hated the way Jordan treated her at times - so typical of McNaught's heroes.
Yes, Jordan is the stereotypical jumping to conclusions McNaught hero. Tall, dark and handsome, masculine, commanding with the haughty demeanor only a duke can have. He assumes the worst of his wife. Never does he give Alex the benefit of the doubt, even though he claims to love her. He doubts her love for him and assumes that she couldn't wait to get married again after he "died" and had been living it up as a merry widow! It drove me crazy that he was so wrong about her, but at the same time, I love, love, loved it! I'm a victim to these kind of Judith McNaught heroes, if I met one in real life, I'd probably hate his guts, but in print - I swoon!
So, how do these two resolve their differences and live happily ever after, read the book and see! It's a great book all the way up to the end-simply wonderful!