Happy Monday! How is everyone today? Ready for a great week?
Well let's get it off to a great start with a little bit of historical romance! Today's pick comes from Loretta Chase's Miss Wonderful, the first book of her Carsington Brothers series. The rich beautiful covers on the outside are a perfect representation of the rich tasteful writing on the inside. This author is number two on my historical romance authors list with Christina Dodd being the first.
First published in 2004 with a time classic cover it received a places as One of Library Journal’s Top Five Romances of 2004. Now published with a new cover today you can still enjoy this read either on your e-Reader or still in print.
Here's a snippet from Miss Wonderful.
Carsington Brothers, Book 1
Back of the Book
Alistair Carsington really, really wishes he didn’t love women quite so much. To escape his worst impulses, he sets out for a place far from civilization: Derbyshire--in winter!--where he hopes to kill two birds with one stone: avoid all temptation, and repay the friend who saved his life on the fields of 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 Oldridge already has her hands full keeping her brilliant and aggravatingly eccentric father out of trouble. The last thing she needs is a stunningly attractive, oversensitive 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 that seems so wrong feel so very wonderful?
EXTENDED SNIPPET READING
MIRABEL turned so abruptly, she nearly knocked the cup and saucer from his hand. But Mr. Carsington moved quickly. His war injuries had definitely not slowed his reflexes.
"Tea's ready?" said Captain Hughes. "Excellent. I feel in need of a stimulant." He fled to his hostess.
Mirabel collected her composure and accepted the tea with steady hands.
"I hope it hasn't cooled too much," Mr. Carsington said. "I've stood here for a time, because I didn't wish to interrupt you."
"You were eavesdropping," she said.
He nodded. "That, too. I was perishing of curiosity. I wanted to know what had roused your passions."
His voice dropped very low, to become more an undercurrent than a sound. Mirabel's pulse rate climbed, along with her temperature.
He studied the floor. "In your agitation, you have shaken loose a great many pins. I cannot decide whether or not it is an improvement." His hooded gaze traveled in the most leisurely manner up the skirt of her gown, lingered briefly at her bodice, then proceeded unhurriedly to the top of her head.
Every inch of the way, Mirabel felt the narrow golden scrutiny—through her heavy silk gown, buckram corset, flannel petticoat, and silk knit drawers—right down to her skin, which it left tingling.
"Is my hair coming down again?" she said composedly. "How vexing. I wish you would show my maid your method with hairpins. I collect you learned that at Oxford, too. Unfortunately, Lucy did not attend university."
"If she had, she might have learnt how to hold her liquor," he said. "Obviously she was drunk when she arranged your hair. But let me correct a misapprehension, Miss Oldridge. I did not learn how to pin up hair at university. I learnt it from a French ballet dancer. She was very expensive. I might have sent you and your maid and all the other ladies in this room to Oxford for what she spent in a twelvemonth."
"You might send us to Paris, but not Oxford," she said. "Perhaps you failed to notice that women are not admitted to our great English universities."
"I've noticed," he said. "It is a great pity."
"I daresay. No ballet dancers to teach you useful skills."
"True." He folded his arms and leant back against the window frame. "Such forms of entertainment are sadly lacking. But I was referring to all members of your sex. I don't see what great harm would result if women were permitted the same sort of education as men."
Mirabel didn't try to hide her disbelief. "I see what you are doing. Having easily made all the gentlemen love you, you suppose you can turn me up sweet as well. You've guessed that I'm a bluestocking, and—"
"I should say 'intellectual,' rather," he said. "You read the desperately difficult-sounding book about the fossils and strata, and no doubt you understood everything your father had to say about mosses and tulips."
"Mr. Carsington, only on rare occasions can I make heads or tails of what my father is saying," she said impatiently. "He has his own unique thought processes, which I do not attempt to follow. I should not advise anyone else to attempt it, either, for that way madness lies. I have my doubts, in fact, as to whether other botanists understand him."
"It would be more useful for me to understand your thought processes than his," he said.
With not-so-steady hands, she set down her neglected tea on a small table nearby. "In order to change my mind?"
"I must do something," he said. "If you speak to the rest of your neighbors as you did to Captain Hughes, I shall be here for months, trying to repair the damage."
"You should have anticipated me and bolstered your cause when you had the opportunity after dinner. You cannot expect me to hold my tongue merely because you are amiable and charming."
His dark eyebrows arched. "You've found my behavior to you amiable and charming?"
"That is not the point," Mirabel said. "The point is, your position and fame don't signify to me, and I won't be seduced by your charm, so I recommend you not take the trouble of exerting it. Also, while I am grateful for your efforts and sacrifice on behalf of your country—"
"Pray let's leave that nonsense out of this," he said stonily.
The frigid tone did not intimidate her. She was accustomed to men using every sort of tactic to make her retreat or yield. She was accustomed to men trying to make her feel insignificant or unsure, and thrusting Keep Out signs in her face. She had learnt to disregard these ploys. She'd had no choice but to learn.
"It isn't nonsense, and I cannot fathom why you would say so," she said. "You fought bravely. You suffered damage, permanent damage. Still, you aren't the only one or the one who suffered most."
He stiffened as though she'd slapped him. But in the next instant his expression softened into puzzlement, and by degrees the faintest promise of a smile touched the corners of his mouth.
His rigid posture relaxed, too, and he said, "An excellent point, Miss Oldridge."
So, he was not offended. Mirabel's estimation of his character rose a cautious degree. She went on, "It does seem to me that we ought to keep the two matters separate. Gallantry in battle is no assurance of wisdom in other matters."
He regarded her steadily—seriously, she would have thought, but for the smile that yet hovered at his mouth. She wanted to ask what the almost-smile meant. She was tempted, terribly tempted, to touch the place where it lurked. Her heart was beating a little too fast.
She folded her hands at her waist and said, "I wish you to understand that it would make no difference to me if you were the Duke of Wellington. I should still think ill of this canal scheme and do my best to hinder you."
"Have you ever met the Duke of Wellington?" he asked.
"No, but I understand that he, too, is handsome and charming and possesses an immense force of personality. Still, I fancy I could stand up to it."
The amber gaze raked her up and down. "I should like to see that. Perhaps you could."
The slow survey made her knees wobbly. Amusement danced in his eyes, and something inside her danced, too, a darting pleasure and excitement she hadn't felt in a long time: the thrill of flirtation.
But it couldn't be. She was long past flirting age, and dressed like a hag besides.
"All the same," he went on, "I think you would not deny His Grace a fair hearing. Would you not at least tell him what you did and didn't want?"
"Did he tell Napoleon his strategy?" she answered calmly enough, though her mind was neither calm nor clear, and she wasn't sure what she wanted.
"Miss Oldridge, I am not trying to conquer the world," he said. "I only want to build a canal."
She became aware of movement, and glancing past him, noted, with mingled relief and vexation, that the young ladies were casually meandering this way. "Your fleet draws nigh," she said.
He didn't look away from her. "Tell me what's wrong," he said. "Better yet, show me: what you've invested, what you stand to lose. Show me what you were talking about to Captain Hughes."
"You could never understand," she said.
"Suppose I cannot? What will it cost you? A few hours of time?"
What I love about discovering older published reads is that new generations of readers get to enjoy the great books that maybe our mother's or aunt's loved before us that we were unable to enjoy at the time of original publication. In fact, it's a way for me to connect with my mother though she is no longer with us. I can download the book to my readers and discover the fabulous stories that she devoured long into the nights while I slept. I guess now that I am older I know what all those secret smiles were about as she flipped through the pages. :)How about you? Do you like diving into oldies but goodies no mater the genre? Any favored titles you'd like to share that you've read over and over though they are not the latest and greatest?