Wishing is the third installment in the Fairbourne series, and it has many of the classic elements that have made Miranda Jarrett popular. Like many of her other books, it is a shipboard romance, complete with an arrogant captain hero, a feisty heroine, and colorful maritime detail. Though Jarrett has tread these waters before, Wishing still manages to feel fresh rather than tired or predictable.
As part of an exasperated jest, Captain Samson Fairbourne writes down the qualities of the perfect woman on a slip of paper, puts the paper in a bottle, and casts it into the sea. He then swears to Neptune that if he finds such a woman, he’ll marry her. He is sure such a perfect woman can’t possibly exist.
Samson is in Barbados when he throws the bottle in the ocean, but Polly Bray finds the bottle in her fishing net – in Massachusetts. As soon as she does, a rogue wind sweeps her overboard. When she wakes up, she finds she has somehow been swept clear down to the Caribbean, and taken aboard Samson’s ship. She immediately locks horns with Samson, who makes her part of a wager. Polly is clearly different from other women; she dresses like a man, and she knows her way around a ship. But Samson bets his cousin that within a few weeks, Polly is sure to show her “true colors” and become greedy and simpering like other women.
It doesn’t take Samson long to figure out that Polly is special. As they fight the elements and tangle with an old enemy, it becomes clear that Polly is no ordinary woman. He resolves to marry her, but Polly is hard to convince. She values her independence, and is afraid that she’ll have to give that up if she marries Samson. She also fears that her impoverished background makes her unworthy to be a captain’s wife. She is willing to give Samson her body, but trusting him with her heart is much more difficult.
Wishing is set in 1721, and Miranda Jarrett does a fine job of bringing the Colonial period to life. The speech patterns of the characters and the maritime setting provide an enjoyable background for Samson and Polly’s love story. Jarrett clearly knows her way around a ship; the details are never sketchy.
The characters are interesting and three-dimensional. I particularly liked Samson. His behavior is so arrogant at first that you know he’s headed for a fall, and once he begins pursuing Polly in earnest he wins the reader’s heart. Toward the end of the book he meets with his estranged brother, and the conflict between them gives further insight into his character. Polly is also interesting. Heroines don’t come much feistier. But what makes her unique is her inner conflict; she loves Samson, but she’s afraid of losing herself. She needs to figure out how to reconcile her growing love with her need to feel independent.
The secondary characters are also promising. Samson’s sister-in-law Anabelle is enchanting, and his cousin Zach shows promise as a future hero. Several of the characters have appeared in the first two books of the series, but you don’t have to read those first to enjoy Wishing. Although I have read and enjoyed a few of the books in Jarrett’s Sparhawk series (Harlequin Historicals), this was my first Fairbourne book – after reading this I plan to seek out the other two.
I had a couple of minor problems with the book. The first is that Polly doesn’t seem to reflect much on her amazing sea journey from Massachusetts to the Caribbean. She puzzles about it for a minute or so, then strangely forgets all about it. I also felt that her dressing like a man would have been extremely unusual and unlikely in 1721 Massachusetts. In a nineteenth century frontier setting, it would have been much more acceptable.
But these flaws don’t spoil the book, and they are easily ignored. With a great setting, interesting characters, and plenty of action, Wishing should please Jarrett fans. And if you’ve never tried Jarrett before, this is a nice place to start. Don’t blame me if glomming gets expensive; Jarrett’s got a huge backlist.
I've been at AAR since dinosaurs roamed the Internet. I've been a Reviewer, Reviews Editor, Managing Editor, Publisher, and Blogger. Oh, and Advertising Corodinator. Right now I'm taking a step back to concentrate on kids, new husband, and new job in law...but I'll still keep my toe in the romance waters.