All A Woman Wants
by Patricia Rice, historical (2001)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-20289-9

Beatrice Cavendish is, to put it bluntly, a ninny. When her father croaks, leaving behind an estate falling to pieces and on the verge of bankruptcy, Bea has no idea what to do to save it. See, she has never learned how to do anything but to do needlework. Oh, she knows some stuff, the bluestocking parody that she is, but none of what she knows is practical. No, wait, I'm making excuses for her. This is a woman who has a stableful of her father's horses and hounds but she just wouldn't sell because "they were Daddy's favorites!"

Thankfully, "Mr Warwick" comes into her life for a mission of mercy. No, he is not here to euthanize her, but he needs somewhere to keep his two kids "Buddy" and "Bitsy" and someone to look after them. Actually, "Mr Warwick" is Duncan MacTavish, rich shipping tycoon in the making. Those kids are actually his late sister's, whom he kidnapped from his brother-in-law who is neglecting them and leaving them in the care of abusive nannies.

So, "Mr Warwick" will teach Bea how to run things, and Bea will take care of the kids. No, actually, "Mr Warwick" will make everything okay and Bea can go back to being trippy. That's a more accurate description of this story.

I really try to keep in mind that the author has deliberately started out with Bea as a nincompoop. And from my experiences with teaching, nincompoops can be a bit slow in accepting changes. Nonetheless, Bea frustrates me because she, well, it's like that horse-and-hounds thing. She just doesn't have any decent ideas on her own. Even when her world is falling apart, she clings on to denial. Maybe something will come up and fix things right. Yeah, and maybe Hugh Jackman will beg me to run away with him.

Lachlan/"Mr Warwick" is a blustery guy who isn't too comfortable around ladies - he's a seafarer, and he has no time for fripperies, you know. But he does have infinite patience around Bea, which is a good thing, because for a 30-year old, Bea can act like a twelve-year old silly girly at times.

But despite a heroine who makes me want to place my fingers around her neck and squeezesqueezesqueeze, I had a great time reading All A Woman Wants. Make no mistake, this is a rescue fantasy, complete with Bea's kooky aunt declaring at one point that all we women need in this world is a man to make our lives A-OK. But the author also create enough cutesy tiny moments between Lachlan, Bea, and the two brats that are charming enough without making me want to vomit glucose. I don't know whether to be worried that I find changing diapers cute in this story, but I am won over. Bea and Lachlan seem perfect for each other - ninny and the Daddy authority figure. A match made in heaven.

Never mind that author has way too many secondary characters dancing in and out of this story, and never mind Bea the Hen. I find AAWW a rather cute read.

Rating: 78

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