Thursday, January 28, 2010

YOTH January Review: Something Wonderful

Earlier this month, I treated myself to a book from the Wayback Machine -- SOMETHING WONDERFUL by Judith McNaught.  My plans to use this book as my inaugural post for the Year of the Historical Challenge over at Kmont's still stands, but where do I start?  I guess we could begin with a synopsis of sorts:

Alexandra Lawrence, a penniless country girl, fell almost immediately in love with Jordan Townsende, the Duke of Hawthorne, the day she saved his life.  It wasn't apparent to them that this attempt on his life, which Alex bungled by shooting a would-be assassin, would be the first in multiple attempts on Jordan's life.  Nor did they figure that this chain of events would force Jordan into marrying the young girl  -- but her mama ensured that he would.  Needless to say, the Townsende marriage did not start off on the brightest of notes.  Given Jordan's less-than-positive opinion of women and their beguiling, manipulating ways (his own mother's bed hopping ways did not help), it wasn't long before his initial enchantment with Alex would tarnish.

What follows in a book that I would consider almost like a saga is a beautifully written love story that depicts Alex's undying love for her husband, even after it's proven that he is not the hero or good man she once believed him to be.  Oh, he doesn't kick puppies or pinch children, but his reputation in London is that of a man who gets what he wants and doesn't lose sleep over wasted things like emotions.  The ton gets off on keeping up with his latest mistress and betting on whose bed he'll jump into next.  So, yeah -- he's the antithesis of what we may call a hero.

But what makes him one?  Is he dashing and resourceful, heroic and unafraid of death?  Well, no...ok, yeah, he's resourceful.  And of course he's handsome, so that would probable make him dashing... 

Moving on -- is he unafraid to give his life for the ones he loves?  Does he stare danger in the eye and win each battle?  Hmm, well...

He learns to admit when he's wrong.  And yes -- that made me stand up and pay attention.  Granted, it almost came too late, but it will have to do. There's a distinct difference between heroes written back in the romances of the 1980s (SOMETHING WONDERFUL's copyright is1988) and those being published now.  Let's face it -- Jordan Townsende is an ass.  He's an endearing ass, true, but let's call a spade a spade.  Given his upbringing in which both of his parents were involved in open affairs and his father wasn't exactly going to take him to any father-son banquet, I can hardly fault Jordan for being a snob.  The heroes in today's romances, while many of them are highly memorable and make many of our hearts go pitter-patter, they just don't seem to carry the same baggage as earlier counterparts.  Maybe it's just me...*shrug*

Anyway, I didn't intend for this review to be a character study on Jordan or an investigation into heroes then and now.  SOMETHING WONDERFUL did something for me that I haven't been able to do in a while -- it parked my ass in a chair and forced me to read just for the sake of finding out what happens next.  And Jordan, damn his sexy butt, made my lower lip tremble at the end when he pleads with Alex, saying, "I love you, and if you die I'll never be able to tell you that."

Yeah, I'm sappy like that...



Lori said...

I absolutely loved this book when I read it. I'm afraid to reread it, thinking that it may feel too dated, or that I might not enjoy Alex's wide-eyed innocence. I loved the way that she won everyone over simply by being herself. I'm afraid I might look at it too cynically a second time.

Great review.

Amy said...

Lori, personally I think it stood the test of time pretty well. I forgot to mention that in my review. It didn't *feel* like a book written in the 80s.


Hilcia said...

I loved this book when I read it too. I haven't re-read it in a long time, though. Like Lori, I'm afraid it won't be the same. It is still on my keeper shelf. :) Great review.