Mayhem and Miranda
Wow, was this a tough rating to give. Carola Dunn has written some of my favorite Regencies – gentle books full of humor about people and situations that are just a bit extraordinary, no vicious back stabbing, no hurtful or domineering heroes or wimpy, overly giving heroines. In short, she writes books that are perfect for an afternoon you just want to read something to make you feel good. I found myself continually checking the front cover to make sure what I was reading was written by Ms. Dunn.
Miranda Carmichael is lucky to be employed by Lady Winston as a genteel companion. Her options have been few since her father died leaving her penniless. Lady Winston is eccentric and generous; she has a substantial inheritance, and uses it to better the lives of those around her, including boxers, street children, handicapped officers, and penniless genteel women. She takes yoga lessons and has afternoon tea for various acquaintances from all stations. Miranda takes all of this in stride, being of a practical and tolerant nature.
When Lady Winston’s adventuring and penniless drifter-of-a-nephew, Peter, arrives for an extended visit, Miranda fosters no illusions about his nature. Although she finds him to be charming and good company, while he aims to recover from his travels and begins to write a novel about his adventures to the Colonies, Miranda vows to get him motivated so he can finish and cease mooching off of his soft-hearted Aunt. She helps him with his ideas, transcribes his scribbles, and makes herself available for any other help he might need. When one of Lady Winston’s other nephews, Lord Snell, arrives, they join forces to save Lady Winston from Lord Snell’s scheme to get his hands on her fortune. It is during this time that Miranda and Peter discover how important they are to one another.
Of the enjoyable aspects of this book, a few stick out in my mind. One is Lady Winston, who is eccentric, smart, generous, and ahead of her time. The other is the couple – Peter and Miranda are two very likeable people. Miranda, for her good sense, spirit, and acceptance of the differences of others, and Peter, for his acceptance of what he is – he is and he remains a not-very-ambitious, sailing-through-life kind of guy throughout the book.
There were several, not-terribly-great aspects to this book as well. The most important to me, was the lack of time the hero and the heroine spent together. It is implied; the author breezes over their time together and dwells on Miranda’s activities separate from Peter. Peter is hardly in the book at all. I also had difficulty with Miranda’s faith in Lord Snell for much of the story, just because he is a Peer of the Realm. She is supposed to be a sensible woman, after all. I found Lady Winston, although delightful, to be overly generous – no one with that much sense would throw money around the way she did. I also found her practice of yoga in front of family, friends, and strangers alike, to be silly. Yoga is a personal thing – not something to be done in the sitting room where guests are having an after dinner drink. The plot was interesting, if not unique, but it got clunky at the end when Peter and Miranda were running across the countryside trying to find Lady Winston. The way they finally run into her is way too convenient, if not bizarre.
Meyhem and Miranda is light, frivolous, and not aggressive in any way, which in my mind are great qualities to have in a Regency. I just wish there had been more to the book, that it had what most of Carola Dunn’s books have – a bit of humor, a great deal of common sense, quality relationship development, and most of all, class.