The Candlelight Wish

Notorious & Noble

Summer Kittens

Starlight Wish by Janice Bennett
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-6417-9
Lady Xanthe, fairy godmother extraordinaire is back and busy once again trying to show her charges the way to true happiness. This time her task is to show Aubrey Kellands, the new Earl of Daventry that love and laughter are more important than sober considerations in choosing a mate.

Aubrey had left his home, Kellands Court, many years ago, unable to get along with his cheese-paring and overbearing father. Now, after a distinguished military career (though I doubt he was at the Battle of Borodino while serving in Portugal) he has returned. He faces the need to repair the ravages to the estate his sire’s stinginess had caused and to care for his two young half-sisters. He concludes that he very much needs a sensible wife, although he has little idea of how to find one. His fervent wish for assistance reaches Xanthe.

Imagine his surprise when Xanthe appears before him, wings flapping, and informs him that as his fairy godmother, she has come to help him find the perfect wife. As is ever the case, she will but provide the opportunity. Aubrey himself must make the right choice.

To help the cause, Xanthe arranges a houseparty at Kellands Court. Here her magical abilities come into play. All of the guests are simply delighted with the idea of seeing Lady Xanthe again, although none of them are completely sure how they “know” her. Thus, she has been able to assemble all of the local families with eligible young ladies for Aubrey’s inspection.

Among the guests are Sir Joshua Lynton, his sister Charlotte, and his daughter Desdemona. When Aubrey meets the Lyntons, he assumes that Charlotte is Xanthe’s candidate. After all, she abandoned her own marital prospects eight years earlier when her brother’s wife died and has since efficiently run his household and cared for his lovely young daughter. Certainly, Xanthe cannot be thinking that nineteen-year-old Desdi is a suitable bride? Desdi might be lovely and charming, but she is also the kind of young lady who will climb a tree to rescue a mewling cat.

How Xanthe insures that Aubrey makes the right choice is the heart of the story. It requires all sorts of danger and derring do for the earl to discover that marriage is not all duty and responsibility, but must also include joy and laughter.

Starlight Wish is a pleasant and entertaining Regency romance with a nice touch of fantasy. Bennett has a sure hand with the secondary characters and with the social setting of a houseparty. Her hero is nicely heroic and her heroine is attractive in a harum scarum sort of way. There is a quietly charming secondary romance (yes, we can’t leave Aunt Charlotte languishing on the shelf.)

All in all, Starlight Wish is a nice story with nice people. (Well, the villains aren’t especially nice but then they aren’t supposed to be.) The word pleasant keeps popping into my head when I think of this book. Yes, a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, that’s my final verdict on Starlight Wish.

--Jean Mason

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