Once in a while a book comes along whose title eloquently describes your reaction to the story, and such is WONDERFUL. Jill Barnett has written a delightfully charming, glorious, tender love story with just the right touch of humor, poignancy, colorful history and magic to make this a classic.
Lady Cloi of Camrose waited years for Lord Merrick to come and make her his wife. True, she is not over eager to be any man's possession, since all her "wonderful" ideas of how to do things have gotten her into trouble in the past, but she's still ready to leave the convent when Merrick arrives to take her home.
The Crusades were bad enough, but nothing compared to the Lady Cloi, who might be more of a problem than the Welshmen on their borders. Once at Camrose, Cloi continues her work as an alewife, striving to recreate the legendary and magical Heather Ale that gave the ancient Picts unusual strength. She also sets the castle and its inhabitants on their ears with her unique way of getting things done and her unusual helpers, young Thud and Thwack.
Though a hardened warrior, Merrick becomes enchanted with his bride and she uncovers the warm and gentle heart within his hardened exterior. When she is wounded it is Merrick who feels he has not protected her well enough and who nurses her back to health. The love that grows between them is based on friendship, respect, understanding, compassion and goodness-it is so strong that nothing can separate them forever.
With a cast of characters you will never forget (the orphans and the one-eyed cat), with humor and warmth and love, WONDERFUL will find a way to curl up in your heart and stay there, keeping you warm and feeling wonderful. Jill Barnett brings a unique joy to writing that is infectious and makes her books shine like a priceless gem. SENSUAL (Sept., 400 pp., $5.99)