Something Wonderful

Something Wonderful - Judith McNaught This book has the usual "tortured" hero... but it also has a "tortured" heroine. It's nice to read a romance where both the hero and the heroine have past issues they must overcome. Both have trust issues when it comes to love relationships, because of their parents. Who they've each become is part of how they dealt with those issues. And while our heroine is plucky, smart, intelligent, witty, and manages to find something wonderful in everything, she still has to face her own issues before she can be whole.Alexandra is just what Jordan needs. While they actually have quite a bit of common ground, she is the light to his darkness - the laughter to his sobriety. But he is the stability and love that she craves, even if he thinks he's too cynical and jaded to believe it.Alex rescues Jordan from two highwaymen, intent on not only robbing him, but killing him as well. Alex is coming back from a friend's birthday party, and she's dressed in rusty armor from the "jousting tournament" when she comes upon the robbery. When she realizes that the robbers intend to kill the man (Jordan), she pulls her shotgun and shoots one of the robbers, killing him. The shock causes Alex to fall off her horse. With her breeches, knight costume, and short-cropped curls, Jordan thinks that she's a boy. He carries the boy (Alex) to the nearby inn for medical attention. But while he's doing a quick examination, he discovers that Alex isn't a boy, but a girl! Trying to recover, he picks her up and tries to take her to the innkeeper's wife, but Alex's shirt is in disarray, and the damage is done. Even though Jordan takes her home, the impression of the small town, and especially Alex's mother and the prospective in-laws that her mother has invited over, believe that Jordan has "interfered" with Alex.Alex's mother married her father because he, a gentleman, "interfered" with her. Alex's mother forced the marriage at gunpoint. But her father lived mostly in London, supposedly attending to his "business"; he only visited twice a year, bringing very little money and cheap gifts. He'd stay for a fortnight or two, then be gone again. Both mother and daughter lavished their love upon him whenever he came. But after his death, they discovered that this "gentleman" was a bigamist - he'd married a proper London lady and had a daughter with her. They were the recipients of his money and gifts... and love.From the first, Alexandra disarmed Jordan's usual defenses. And because he realizes that she has no ulterior motive in her mother's blackmail to either have Jordan marry Alex or settle a large sum upon her, Jordan realizes he must marry her. But he decides it won't interfere with his life. She's not quite eighteen, and while not yet a beauty, she shows promise; her body is still lithe and not curvy. Jordan decides that he won't consummate the marriage just yet. But he'll install her in his home in Devon, safely in the country, and then continue his debauched lifestyle in London. In a year or two, he'll revisit Alex and probably try for an heir. But he wants his grandmother, an upright, uptight, firm-upper-lip, no-nonsense, member of the haute ton to take Alex under her wing and prepare her for Society and a debut in a year or two.Except that Alex continues to disarm him - to make him see life in a new way. Fresh, full of color and happiness... something wonderful. He finds himself unable to stick to his plans, and they do consummate their marriage in a touching, funny, and tender scene. Alex knows how barnyard animals mate, but she doesn't believe that can possibly how human babies are made. Jordan tells her that he will reveal that intimate secret, but only by showing her. Her complete trust, faith, and love in him and for him cause him to feel as if he's giving away his very soul... which disturbs him and upsets his "plan". So Jordan leaves her bed late one night for a stroll and to purchase some cigars; he's set upon by two toughs, who were paid to kill him. But they decide to get double for their money, and they sell Jordan into a pressgang.Unfortunately, even though Alexandra raises the alarm first thing in the morning, by the time they discover what's happened, the ship Jordan was on sinks - all hands reported lost. In their grief, Alex and Jordan's grandmother find solace in one another, and they forge a lasting relationship. Alex is heartbroken, and she does her best to make Jordan proud, learning her Society lessons and going out in public. But she's too "green"; she knows very little about Jordan except for the romantic hero she's built up... and the few stories that the servants who loved him best told her. She knows nothing of his real life. So she stumbles in society by defending him and making faux paus with his former lovers. Alex becomes a laughingstock, until Jordan's grandmother and his cousin, Anthony (Tony, the new heir), tell her the brutal truth about Jordan. Alex quickly drops most of her practiced pretense and becomes her charming, adorable self - tempered with just enough ennui to pass the brutal tests of the haute ton.Meanwhile, Jordan survived the sinking of the ship, of course. He and another man were pulled from the water and taken prisoner by the French. Because Jordan was involved in the wars in Spain and made quite an enemy of himself to the French, he's treated brutally. The only thing that keeps him going is picturing Alex and her tender, innocent faith and love.But when Jordan finally escapes and returns to London 15 months later, he arrives just in time to stop Alexandra's wedding - to his cousin, Tony. Jealousy, rage, and betrayal are all Jordan can think about; he believes that Tony and possibly Alex are behind the attempts on his life. And he starts to put Alex in the category he's reserved for females - unfaithful, after money and titles, and completely untrustworthy. Jordan believes that he'll pick up with his original scheme, and ship Alex off to Devon. But Alex has learned a lot since Jordan left - not only have her eyes been opened, but she has a sense of herself. Alex believes that Jordan never loved her, and that he's just like her father. So Alex fights back....Alexandra and Jordan find themselves caught in knots - over one another and what will happen to their relationship, but mostly with plots of revenge and jealousy. Is Alex trying to have Jordan killed so that she can marry Tony? Can Jordan see Alex for who she really is again or will he continue to be blind?Thankfully, this is a romance... so all's well that ends well. The journey is rough, full of twists and turns, and thrilling suspense. It's tough to know who's really behind the plot on Jordan's life, and I must admit that I had the wrong person in mind. Which is saying something, because I'm hardly ever fooled!