cover image Wish


Marianne Willman. St. Martin's Press, $6.5 (372pp) ISBN 978-0-312-97577-7

Readers will find a good amount of enchantment in Willman's latest historical romance (following The Enchanted Mirror and The Lost Bride), set at the end of England's Regency period. The defiant hero is Justin, earl of Ravenall, who needs the cachet of his missing ward's fortune to retain and restore his birthright. Could the missing heiress be Perdita, a young servant who knows nothing about the circumstances surrounding her birth? At long last, Justin and Perdita find each other, but their romantic alliance is based on half-truths: Perdita does not reveal that the six-pointed birthmark on her wrist, which marks her as the missing heiress Pauline Hexham, is only a scar; and Justin allows her to believe that he protects her because he is an altruistic nobleman. The novel's gothic flavor enhances the danger that threatens to harm both Justin and Perdita and invites added suspicion about their relationship. Though the novel has some awkward, even strange, phrasing (""he caressed her breasts, held them in his hands as if they were doves""), readers will race through to the end to find out how Justin and Perdita's tenuous relationship is resolved and, of course, to find out if wishes and dreams can come true. (Dec.)