Years ago, Miranda and Evan were passionately in love and planned to marry. But Miranda’s father was in debt, as heroine’s fathers so frequently are, and Miranda jilted Evan in order to marry the wealthy Lord Crandall.
Seven years later, Miranda is now the widowed Lady Crandall. She has come to stay at the country house of some friends, to give their daughter Artemis some polish before her Season. Artemis is an athletic young woman who is plagued with insecurity and an inner conviction that is unattractive and unfeminine. Miranda’s hosts throw a house party, and to Miranda’s discomfiture, Evan is invited. He is no longer the penniless, ardent young man she remembers: since she saw him last, he has inherited an earldom, and now his manner toward Miranda is extremely cool.
Miranda’s rejection changed Evan. He was appalled by the extremes of emotion he experienced – love, jealousy, rage. He has done his best in the intervening years to become emotionless and logical. He intends to court and marry Artemis, whom he doesn’t love and isn’t even particularly attracted to, because she will never upset his emotions the way Miranda did. When he sees Miranda standing by Artemis’ side, his self-control slips. In spite of the attraction that still burns between Miranda and Evan, he is threatened by the feelings she stirs in him. He continues to court Artemis.
I do love a good traditional Regency. There’s something very satisfying about a perfectly-told tale of two people finding love within the strict rules of Regency society. For some reason, though, I was not moved by the story of Evan and Miranda. I felt very distant from both of them.
I believe that there are several small things that contributed to my disinterest in the protagonists. For one thing, although we are told that Miranda and Evan shared a passionate love many years ago, we never see it. Both characters’ motivations lie in the past, but the reader is never shown anything about how it was between them. Evan, in particular, is harmed by this. A man of powerful emotions who fears to be controlled by them, he could have been a compelling character. But while we are told that he felt consumed with rage and jealousy, we never see any of this. His quest to be emotionless seems unsympathetic and hard to understand as a result. A single flashback would really have helped.
Miranda is a likable heroine. She loves Evan and, now that she’s widowed, sees no reason they can’t continue the relationship they once had. I found her forthright behavior with Evan to be extremely refreshing. She is always polite and feminine, but she lets him know what she wants and isn’t afraid to use her beauty to her advantage. Unfortunately, though, she also embodies one of the most tired romance-novel clichés: the widowed virgin. This device has been used to good effect; but in this book it’s not used to any effect at all. The way I see it, married virgins must surely be so rare that, when one shows up in a book, there should be some reason for it. Throughout this book I kept waiting to find out what purpose Miranda’s virginity was going to serve. Was it going to illuminate some aspect of a character’s personality? Would there be a plot consequence? No, and no. We never know why her husband didn’t have sex with her – she doesn’t know herself – and it serves no purpose as far as the book is concerned. It did nothing but remind me that Miranda is not a real person.
The third angle of this triangle is Artemis, whom I found to be quite sympathetic as well. Evan’s loveless courtship of her made me feel indignant on her behalf. But she never quite rises above the tomboy stereotype, which is too bad.
Miranda’s Mistake is very smoothly-written, with an interesting foxhunting setting and a likable heroine. There is certainly nothing terribly wrong with it. But for me, it was difficult to get involved in the romance. This is not a bad book, but there are better ones out there.