Notorious & Noble

Summer Kittens

 
The Candlelight Wish
by Janice Bennett
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-6263-X
***
Adding fantastical elements to Regency romances can be enjoyable if well done. But I usually prefer such plot devices to add something special to the story. I’m not sure that giving the heroine of The Candlelight Wish a fairy godmother, rather than a plain, old godmother really made all that much difference.

We meet Lady Xanthe in the prologue as she peers into a basin of water to discern her next project. A face appears, the pretty face of Phoebe Caldicot, a young woman whose head and heart are at war, according to Xanthe.

The scene shifts to Bath where that same Miss Caldicot has slipped out of the Misses Crippenham’s Academy for Young Ladies in pursuit of Lucilla Saunderton, one of her pupils who has a penchant for meeting handsome young army officers in unacceptable places. After retrieving Lucilla from her rendezvous, Phoebe encounters her student’s brother on the steps of the school. Sir Miles Saunderton is not happy that his flighty sister has escaped supervision. Phoebe takes an immediate dislike to the starchy and disapproving gentleman.

Lucilla’s escapade results in Phoebe’s dismissal from her post as teacher of deportment and music. This is a cruel blow, for not only is Phoebe unemployed, but she can no longer help support her brother at the university. She blames Sir Miles for her firing.

But have no fear, for Xanthe is here. She whisks the startled and unbelieving Phoebe off to London, where the young woman will have the “opportunity” to make her wish for financial help for her brother and a home and family for herself come true.

Imagine Phoebe’s surprise and dismay when she discovers that her next door neighbor is none other than the unpleasant Miles Saunderton! This proximity results in dinner invitations, rides in the park, and frequent encounters. It also brings silly Lucilla back into Phoebe’s orbit. Sir Miles and Phoebe clash over how best to handle Lucilla’s habit of falling in love with a handsome face in a handsome uniform.

As you can see, despite the presence of our fairy godmother, The Candlelight Wish has a fairly traditional plot. We have the hero and heroine who seem to dislike each other and who spar their way into romance. We have the young girl who must be rescued from her own folly.

I must admit that I liked both Phoebe and Miles and that Bennett did a good job of showing why they are meant for each other. Lucilla is a fairly typical ingenue, the spirited young miss who chafes against the restrictions of society and falls in love with ineligible young men.

I suppose my biggest problem was Lady Xanthe and her fairy magic. Frankly, a well connected real godmother could have done the job just as well, if one ignores her ability to conjure up jewels and change the colors of dresses to suit the wearer’s mood. My prosaic nature is showing I fear. I didn’t feel that the fantasy added all that much to the story.

I first thought that I would end up giving The Candlelight Wish a two heart rating, but my growing fondness for the hero and heroine led me to conclude that this is an acceptable Regency romance. A pleasant read, if somewhat familiar.

--Jean Mason


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