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Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Something Wonderful
Sequels #2

Judith McNaught
Historical Romance
First published in 1988

H/h - Jordan Townsende, the Duke of Hawthorne/Alexandra Lawrence
Setting: Morsham, 1815/London, 1816.

Read in May, 2011 (1st read, 2010).
My rating:

                                                                 [spoiler alert]

After my 2nd reading of the book...

I remember being annoyed by a few things when I first read this book, hence the 4 stars rating. But this reading is proving to be quite different and no matter what, I'm liking it so far.

Jordan is a duke and living a duke's lifestyle. But, his teenage life show us a life full of debauchery by his parents (numerous affairs and stuffs) which turned him into a cynical, jaded man. The opening chapter gives us a glimpse of this and I applauded him for not sleeping with that woman. So, even as a 18 yrs old, he wasn't that jaded but now, a 27 yrs old Jordan is different. He doesn't care about women, avoids married ladies but all the other types of 'less virtous' women are welcome in his bed! He'd been a soldier too. I read his musings telling me about his 'unrestrained wenching', when he finds himself saddled with a 'child-bride'. I'm glad so far I didn't have to read any information on his unrestrained wenching *shudders*.
Alexandra is an ever optimistic girl. She believes 'something wonderful' will happen to her soon, even after all the troubles in her young life. She had a selfish scoundrel of a father who married again in London and lived with that family while left his legitimate one in the little village of Morsham in near poverty, visited them yearly when he felt like. His death revealed this betrayal and I felt for Alexandra as she thinks back about that part of her life. The neckless scene was meaningful and sad. Her mother isn't any better than her father. That woman refused to take any responsibitily ever in her vain, self-centered life. It's her grandfather who taught her everything, and she's been taking care of the household after his death at 14 ... this I kinda couldn't believe. She's 17 now, still too young IMO. Then again, like all the other JM heroines, Alexandra is a veritable example of beauty but she doesn't think so! Also, like all the other JM heroines, she's the best in anything she does, whatever it is.

Then, in a twist of fate, Jordan and Alexandra meet in a fateful night and she ends up saving his life. Jordan, at first, took er as a young man and then a girl of 12/13 since Alexandra is ... ermm, less developed in certain areas and spends time with her in an inn as she was injured. This leads to all sorts of gossips. Alexandra's enraged and a bit more than insane mother, who was (according to her) also a 'victim' of a self-serving rake, takes the matter in hand and wrenches out a marriage proposal from Jordan. And, they marry.

Now, Jordan's life is in a disarray. He wasn't thinking of getting married just about now. He has a mistress and was in no hurry to produce heirs. He took his marriage as 'adopting a child' (all his talks of thinking/treating Alexandra as a child I found very irritating!) But, he can't help but like Alexandra's honest and artless demeanor. After a lifetime of vain, vapid and selfish women, she's a breath of fresh air to him, though he refuses to give her an upper hand in his life. He even thought about setting her up in one of his estates and going his merry way. Then after a few kisses, he decides to wait for her to grow older so that she matches him in bed. Then, after spending more time in the journey that's supposed to take them in that estate, Jordan decides he just can't wait to have her! It was funny, the situation. I liked that kissing scene before marriage. Then afterwards, the discussion of 'how to make babies' was kinda weird, a bit exasperating yet strangely funny to me. A curious Alexandra, who can quote all sorts of philoshophical quotations yet knows nothing about making babies, wants to know about it (she's just TOO naive, like other JM heroies) and Jordan promises her he'll show her. Then, where I've left off, he does.

BTW: Alexandra has already decided that Jordan's her 'something wonderful' and confessed she loves him. Even I thought that was too naive. But, I like her, so I'd like to see where it all leads to. Jordan the cynical rake, of course, decided it's just her infatuation and desire for him. I hope he swallows his own words since all he can say to her is 'thank you'! Ugh!
*******************

Dared I hope and expect something better from a JM hero? *sigh*

I guess I've figured out what was bugging me. Even when I was swooning over Jason, Clayton and the others in my first reading, Jordan pissed me off. That's right, even then he was annoying me. So much for hoping he might be a better hero in this reading! I'll come back to my point shortly.

So, as I was reading, the story took a dramatic turn and while they were off to Devon in his estate, Jordan was kidnapped. The next day, one very concerned Alexandra finds out that he's missing. Soon she's taken in by the Dowager Duchess from the deck of that ship to their London townhouse. As days go by without positive news, Alexandra lives in a frantic edge of horror for Jordan and then comes the bad news, which tells them Jordan was kidnapped and the ship that has taken him has drowned. The events that follow, I really loved though all of them were in mourning. I really enjoyed reading the way Alexandra, Tony (Jordan's cousin, who becomes the duke later) and the Dowager's relationship developed. I loved Alexandra's courage, the way she communicated with seemingly cold, reserved dowager. And then, she put Jordan on a pedestral of bravery, honesty and courage, convincing herself of course Jordan loved her too! There were descriptions of her devotion to Jordan made me wanna scream and tell her girl, how wrong you are! Poor Alexandra! She had no idea what kinda man Jordan actually was, she didn't know about his paramours, not even about the governess he slept with in the very house (by then they were at Hawthorne) she was living in. The old groom and stable master (not sure) did everything to keep that illusion alive, exaggerating Jordan's very questionable 'virtues' to her. I felt so sad, can't quite explain it.

Reading Jordan's lifestyle was a chore for me, something I couldn't quite swallow. It was awful, disgusting and everytime I thought of Alexandra, I felt so angry! Jordan always cosorted with beautiful, loose women. And it's written in the book, that nature bestowed Alexandra with 'beauty' as a yr passed by in between. It felt like some sort of demeaning comparison to me, though I dunno why I felt like that. I believe Alexandra was already quite a fine heroine, with a lot of strength and inner beauty, since she wasn't a conventional beauty. Then, I loved the way she stepped into the London society, as the dowager convinced her that this is what Jason would've wanted for her. She had no idea about his lifestyle there, not even a clue that she'll have to face his whores because nobody told her. Have to mention this, I was furious, when in this picture scene at Hawthorne, a portrait of Jordan's Alexandra loved so much, was later revealed by Tony's musings, was painted by one of his whores while he was having a 'torrid affair' with her. To poor Alexandra, the look in his eyes and the intimate smile reminded her of their times together ... Only if she knew!

So, she steps into London but despite everything, all the pain she went through to make herself a part of the Ton, she fails miserably. And, then comes the events of 'making the heroine look like a fool'! (read my review of Once and Always) She enrages one of the popular guys with some of her guileless loyalty to the dowager and in return her reputation gets a blow. She admires two beautiful women, not knowing they were Jordan's whores. She speaks of ballet and Jordan, not knowing Jordan's last whore was one of the ballerinas. She speaks of Jordan to everyone as if he's a saint, which was just too much for the Ton! GOD! I felt embarrased and sad and so so angry for her because all these made her the joker of the Ton, they were all laughing at her expense. Then Tony, being the gentleman is (I really really like him because he was actually angry at Jordan on her behalf), informs her about all of Jordan's worthless character (including Jordan's cheating on her just on the 2nd day of their marriage *gag*, about he making fun of her with his mistress *gag gag* and his ultimate plans for her). Tony informs her Jordan felt pity for her, not love and Alexandra knew finally that the lovemaking she thought sacred actually was nothing but a child's play for him. She's horribly disillusioned as all these came to her like a slap on her face. And, I wished she kept that rage alive when Jordan came back home. Now, she thought she's free of the burden of loyalty and as she gained back her popularity, Alexandra started moving on and living her life. Then Tony proposes her and even though she wasn't in love with him, she knew he'll make her happy, so she agrees. And then happens the disaster, on their wedding day no less!

Yah, I'll forever call it 'the disaster' because the moment Jordan returns, things, inevitably started to go downhill, thanks to him. And, I lost a lot of my interest in the story. Before his return, I was enjoying it immensely and then when he did return, I thought he was better off dead. That hypocritical, domineering, cheating SOB!! Would you believe, upon his return, that pathetic a$$ thought people didn't mourn him enough and he was mad angry! Really Jordan? I don't remember you doing anything significant in your life (other than f*cking around) for which you should be mourned and remembered! Then he accuses Alexandra of trying to stay as the Duchess by any means (read: even by marrying Tony), calling her a 'a scheming opportunist', giving no one any time/chance to explain what really happened when he was gone. He just came to his own pathetic conclusions and started acting all betrayed with his infernal Dukal manner! He expected Alexandra would pine and waste away for him, mourning forever. My god! And when he didn't find it happened, he started a campaign on how to tame her/teach her the lessons she deserves (seriously????!). He actually dared to make a list of things she did that makes him look bad *I was agape, felt speechless*. Alexandra in return, gave him a list of his paramours. Oh, I was hoping for an intense scene where she gives him hell. But, sadly, no. In that whole, VERY frustrating scene, he treats her like a child (though bodily, he was thinking about ways to get her to bed) he was amusing himself with; no shame, no remorse that she found out about him ... She lost control and it wasn't at all what I expected of her. I thought she had enough fire to give him pain. But, he tames her with a few kisses and caresses, calling her 'princess' once and she immediately thought about forgiving him?! WTF???? I wish Alexandra would stand upto his dukal a$$ and shout out loud that, you don't deserve me at all you worthless pile of s*it, how dare you accuse me of things when you're worse than a worm yourself!

Of course, the people around her (including the dowager and another woman who is supposed to be her 'friend') is as usual convincing her since she's his wife, she should live with him. Doesn't matter that she's trying to get out of this farce of a marriage, that she wants to live her life in peace, doesn't matter she actually wants to stay sane by not living with a disgusting man. I hated the way that 'friend' of hers tried to manipulate her and then did something stupid which led to that 'list of things that make ...' incident. Alexandra then planned to gain some money from betting on a horse race and leave for Morsham but of course, that plan of hers ended in another debacle which lead to Jordan's big mouth telling her she has to abide by his rules *SOB*. Then, one of Alexandra's old servants explained Jordan some of the things that happened to her when she was young along with how Jordan actually is a selfish a$$ and nothing else. This leads him to plan on another ridiculous bet with her. He, of course, manipulated her to take part in it. Seriously? Well, I don't give a damn anymore! I don't think Jordan honestly plans to remorse his actions on anything so far, and I'm not sure he will in the end since Alexandra is already letting him win.

PS: I didn't give a s*it about what happened to Jordan when he was kidnapped because he deserved all that and more for his activities. That's why I mentioned none of that part in my review.

PPS: If I read the line "reformed rakes make the best husbands" in another JM book, I'm gonna throw it out! I don't care for your 'rakes' Ms. McNaught, they should be under lock and key with special surveillance equipments 24/7, psycho that they are!
*******************

*sigh* ... Hmmm ... Well, don't look at me like that! I still can't bring myself to terms with the fact that the last 2 chapters, including the epilogue were the most gripping yet sweetest in the whole book. I know I know, I still dislike Jordan for what he did to Alexandra through the whole story but hey, guess I've read some clues to why his life was like the way he lived it [ref: his parents and their influence on him]. I only hoped he redeemed himself a bit more and not made Alexandra go through the trauma of getting a bullet in her head. Yah, you heard me right. I'm amazed that she got through. Then again, the way Jordan was grovelling away taking her in his arms ... *sigh* ... And, I kinda forgave him for being an a$$ (I wasn't sure if I'd kill him or kick his arse even in the 29th chapter) and mentioning one of his mistresses in that govelling (generally, I JUST CAN'T STAND IT). It was so good, I wish I had met this changed man earlier so that I didn't have go through the trauma of hating him myself. *sniffs*

But before it all happened, they were playing the making babies which was what that bet was all about. I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. Then I was angry that Alexandra forgave him for not trusting her until the 29th chapter. I was enraged that he accused her of collaborating with Tony and contriving a plot of murdering him. Jordan's life had been under threat before and after he came back from the abduction. So, he appointed investigators to look into the matter (Alexandra knew nothing of it), which lead to those conclusions. But, there were a lot of 'what if's in that investigators words, which that lout (read: Jordan) didn't think through and jumped into conclusions himself *as if that's anything new*. I was about to wring his neck when the story finally gripped me and then those last few chapters kinda helped me get through my anger. It also helped that, as Jordan was confessing many things, thinking Alexandra would surely leave him now since he's made the stupidest mistake of his sorry life, he mentioned that he didn't cheat on her. And, I really adored the way he said 'I love you' to her. And I'm so glad that, though he was a lout for the most of the book, had a wasted life in most regard; he didn't abuse Alexandra physically in any way.

Anyway, I'm still gonna take away half a star; it was 4 stars before re-reading, now it's 3.5.

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I'm a simple girl. I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. I also write, mostly songs/poems, though I'm not published. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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