Miss Chartley's Guided Tour
by Carla Kelly, regency (2001, 1989 reissue)
Signet, $5.99, ISBN 0-451-20461-1


I've read this book three times just to make sure that I am not under some senile dementia thing again, but no, alas, I really read correctly. This time around, Ms Omega Chartley (could be worse, her brother's named Alpha) really does end up with her Matthew Bering.

Then again, best give Daddy Chartley a knock in the head. Come on, Omega? What is this, an episode of Transformers or RoboTech? What's wrong with Epsilon, Psi, or Theta?

Ms Chartley was dumped a few years ago. No euphemisms could hide the fact that she was left high and dry at the altar at what was supposed to be the wedding of the year. Today, Ms Chartley is a schoolteacher - her daddy's monies does a nosedive soon after the altar solo performance - and here she is, taking her much-needed holiday-cum-move-to-a-new-post thing for the first time.

But our heroine immediately postpones her holiday when she sees a Bow Street Runner harrassing a lil' boy. The boy, James, is escaping a nasty guardian and he is running to his uncle's place. Ommie, Mega, or however she calls herself, just cannot help but to become his accomplice and fellow road-tripper. They soon find themselves with a few more buddies and all of them end up at the home of James' uncle, one Matthew Bering.

Oopsie.

Now, I've described half the book already. Somewhere along the way, I have high hopes that Ommie will hook up with that soldier buddy of hers - he is a nice guy after all. And there is no other male in sight. Then comes Matt, surly and detached and all von Trappy. He has an excuse, of course, for that, as well as an excuse for jilting Ommie. They always do have an excuse, eh, those men? So as Ommie warbles "The hills are alive...", as she wonders why Matt won't play-play happily with James like she does with the boy, as she wanders around the house wondering why Matt won't play nice, I think fondly of the male soldier, who by now seems to have taken up position as the unofficial Bering houseboy or something.

Later there will be somebody trying to poison everybody, and Matt will cry as much as manly men could allow themselves to as he asks Ommie to marry him, and James will go "Yay!" as he finds a new happy family, and I just wonder why the author puts Matt so late in the story, makes the man so surly and so... so... predictable, and only puts the emotional stuff at the end so little, so measley.

It's a pretty good read, but as a romance, it concentrates too much on Ommie and Jamey's Happy Road Trip for too long for its own good.

Rating: 76


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