When Captain Nicholas Sinclair recovers from injuries incurred when his ship was sunk, King Charles II offers him an opportunity to claim an estate in the country. However, in his need to avenge his crew Nicholas arranges with the king's mistress, the Countess of Castlemaine, for a loan to outfit a new vessel.

Meanwhile, he travels to Thornwood Hall to investigate why a once-prosperous, tax-paying estate is now in dire straits.

Becky has been running the estate, caring for her younger siblings and hiding her own secrets. When she meets Nicholas, Becky mistakes him for Ben Twaddle, her maid's ne'er-do-well son, and gives him a job.

Nicholas is fascinated with the fiery young woman and decides to go along with the charade to find out just what is going on at the Hall, but not before he arrogantly steals a kiss.

Becky is stunned at her attraction to the lazy Ben. She sets him to work, keeping him away from the ledger, for she has been cheating the Crown and fears that when Sinclair arrives he'll unmask her as a traitor.

How can Nicholas expose her treachery when he has fallen in love and how will he ever manage to pay back his loan and return to the sea when his heart is tied to Becky?

A WISH FOR NICHOLAS is a charming, heartwarming romance set during the colorful restoration period. Ms. Manning's lively, likable characters and situations will definitely make you smile and bring a tear to your eye. SWEET (Jan., 350 pp., $5.50)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin