Athena's Conquest

The Hero Returns

His Bride to Be

The Scandalous
Miss Delaney

A Perfect Mismatch by Catherine Blair
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-7229-5
Ah, the irony of it. The blurb on the back of the cover flat shipped with this book didn’t match the story - the characters were completely different. A Perfect Mismatch started out as such even before the first page was reached.

Georgiana Palmer has decided to marry her brother’s close friend, Viscount Iverley. They are fated to be together, you see. She just knows it, even though they’ve only been introduced once and have never actually spoken. When Iverley shows up at her family’s country home for a few weeks of congenial hunting, fishing, and other sportsmanlike endeavors, Georgiana decides to marry him.

Problem is, Iverley is completely uninterested in Georgina. He’s recovering from the embarrassment of a broken engagement, and women aren’t high on his list. Hanging out with his friends and doing a bit of riding and such is much more the thing. So Georgina, after fumbling her way through an initial meeting, decides she’ll simply have to turn herself into the sort of woman Iverly would most admire: a sportswoman.

Georgiana, of course, dislikes hunting, fishing, driving, and shooting. No matter. Iverley is fated to be her true love, you see, and therefore she’ll just have to get over her aversion to outdoor pursuits.

For the first third of this novel, Georgiana is little more than a silly teenager with a mad crush on her brother’s best friend, and a head full of romantic babble to go with it. When presented with the idiocy of her plan by her staid older brother, William, she considers that she might be making a mistake - and then decides it’s not possible, since she and Iverley were meant to be. Even after Georgiana decides to tell Iverley the truth, she just can’t make herself do it.

And then on page 103, something wonderful happens. Georgiana starts to grow up.

Yes, after a spat with Iverley in which he declares he’ll never love anyone, the stars fall from Georgiana’s eyes and she admits the truth to herself. Iverley doesn’t love her, and even the light affection he seems to have for her is based on a lie. They are completely different types of people.

Georgiana then avoids Iverley, who finds he misses the fun times they spent together. He eventually decides no woman will suit him as well, so he might as well marry her. His proposal, met with a flat “no” by Georgiana, sets in motion a chain of events in which both will need to do some growing up. Iverley is no more self-aware than Georgiana has been.

Georgiana’s is the stronger characterization. She morphs from silly girl into somewhat mopey young woman, and while she’s neither wholly sympathetic nor completely irritating, she is vivid. I just wished she’d spent less time being tragic and withdrawn whenever Iverley came into view during the last half of the book. The “he can never love the real me” got a bit old after a while, and ended up feeling like martyrdom. And the romance, while warm, never really caught fire. Iverley spends fun times with Georgiana, is turned down by her, then decides he really loves her. It didn’t quite ring true.

Iverley is a good-hearted fellow has skated along till now on his title and family money, but now finds he must take a hard look at his life if he wants to win the woman he loves. He’s no paragon, though he does grow into a rather endearing man, one who is willing to try and change himself into something Georgiana would want. (A nice twist on the storyline, that.) And his final gesture to Georgiana, in an attempt to win her back, is as clever and romantic as one could wish.

A Perfect Mismatch has a few bumps in the road, but overall, it’s a cleverly-plotted Regency that's quite entertaining.

--Cathy Sova

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