Star Bright
by Miranda Jarrett, historical (2000)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-7434-0356-8


Oh, by the way, the back cover blurb? It's not a blurb - it's a summary of the entire story. The first paragraph describes half of the story, the second paragraph finalizes the second half. Whoever wrote that thing must have been the same buffoon who got sacked from Hollywood for creating trailers that tell the whole story.

Having said that, Star Bright is a much better book than its prequel Starlight, particularly because its heroine's naivete doesn't seem out of character. It's easier to accept naivete from a sheltered woman who has been taught that love is the most important thing in a relationship than naivete in a woman who is on the run from the law. The former is human, the latter is roadkill.

Diana Fairbourne is excited upon her impending marriage to the Marquess of Roxby. She loves him with all the naivete of her young age, and she is certain she can tame her American artlessness to conform into the English aristocracy. But things are not what they seem, rather, Roxby isn't who he seems, and Diana gets her first warning in the form of an anonymous letter informing her of Roxby's mistress.

As her doubts start to pile about her future life, she meets Captain James Dunham, a war hero who suffers from a crippled right hand. She doesn't like him - he's rude, she catches him poaching in Roxby's estates, and he's... well, rude! And he doesn't like her either, that hoyden! But thing is, they find themselves behaving in their true self, free from artifice and pansy rules, in each other's company. Love can't be too far behind.

There are some minor conflicts to make things interesting towards the ending chapters, like James's orders to sink the Fairbournes into deep waters and Roxby's maniac behavior. Still, James and Diana make such a lovely couple, if I may say so. Their relationship evolves slowly yet convincingly from childish don't-like-you-nya-nya-nya to affection, and their quiet times together are wonderful. He may see himself as crippled and not fully man enough but he never actually makes Diana suffer for his self-pity. Diana can be pathetically naive at times (she actually segregates lust from love, i.e heavy petting before marriage = lust = no good, but after marriage = love = okay), but she's young and she has very little else to compare her experiences and thoughts to.

My only complain is that irritating magic cat Star Bright, which distracts more than it enhances the romance. This cat's presence gives James and Diana plenty of excuses to act petty and indulge in childish bickering, for it is supposed to play matchmaker. Thankfully, the author restrains herself from making the two main characters bicker, bicker, bicker so that Star Bright can act cute.

Overall, Star Bright is a nice, sometimes funny but always readable romance with two very likable characters. The cat may be irritating, but it's sure been fun following James and Diana's relationship.

Rating: 87


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