6 Rated Books

Smugglers Do The Classics: Something Wonderful

So, as a newbie to romance novels, I am little by little working my way through the new releases and the “classics” of the genre as well. Something Wonderful is a beloved romance novel and JM is hailed as The Queen by many readers. Did I like Something Wonderful? Yes, I did. But did I also think it was a bit too much? Yes, I certainly did. So much so, that I didn’t think I could write a proper review because I need to make fun. I need to poke at things that were so over the top, I can’t control myself. Because of that, we thought of this new feature called Smugglers Do The Classics for those instances where we feel the urge to write more than a review, we feel the need to make a parody. So this is a warning!

1) There will be spoilers in this post
2) Even though I liked the book and I respect JM immensely for what she has done for the genre and I also respect the readers who think this is one of the best romance novels out there, I WILL BE MAKING FUN OF IT.
3) I felt a huge range of emotions whilst reading this book and to my understanding, images speak loudly than a 1000 words so I will be using JackFaces because no one can convey emotions better than Jack Shephard, from Lost. Fans of Matthew Fox, be warned: we mean no harm or offense to the actor Matthew Fox. We simply can not resit his character on LOST, Jack Shephard, and his Jackfaces. All caps are courtesy of Lost-Media.com.

You have been warned!!!

Title: Something Wonderful

Author: Judith Mcnaught


This book was a complete rollercoaster that left me, befuddled, happy, sad, hurt, befuddled, happy and sad all over again. And the tears? Holy crap, I was feeling dehydrated at the end of it.

First let me say that I have read two JM’s books so far. One was Whitney, My Love which I hated with the force of a thousand storms (even though I loved parts of it. I think my intense hatred comes from the fact that my enjoyment of that book was marred by the many abusive actions coming from the “hero”. I hear the new, edited version is more politically correct) and the other was A Kingdom of Dreams which is possibly my favourite medieval novel ever. I love that book with the force of a thousand sunshines.

Gee. I am a poet today.
I have had Something Wonderful in my TBR shelf for quite some time and the recent JM’s extravaganza over at The Book Binge has prompted me to read it now. So, how did this one fair in the end? Humm… I would say it is much much better than WML but still not as good as A Kingdom of Dreams.

So what is it all about? Bear with me cause this is going to be looooong.

The book opens and it is a sort of a prologue where we learn that Jordan, our hero, is 18 years old and already a jaded cynic. In bed with his lover, a much older, married woman, he is by the window when he sees his father coming out of the bushes (hee) with his recent lover right after his mother comes out of another bush with her lover, who turns out to be the husband of Jordan’s lover.

Phew. I am tired already and it’s only the freaking prologue. He doesn’t have a good opinion of women, that one, oh no. At that same point, we learn about Alexandra, a 13 year old girl who lives in a small cottage with her bookish grandpa and her mama and whose father, whom she worships, lives in London and visits twice a year.

We jump to a few years later and now Jordan is 27, the current Duke of Hawthorne and Alex is….17.

First moment of befuddlement happens right there.
There is something wrong here, right? I am no mathematical genius, but the age difference is all wrong. Anyways, I pretend I don’t notice. Back to the point at hand which is to show that Alex’s life has taken a turn to worse, her father died and they learnt he was a bigamist, and her illusions about him came tumbling down along with her mother’s sanity. Her beloved grandfather who taught her to quote Plato and Plutarco, also dead and the responsibility of the household lies completely on her shoulders. But you think she is sad about it? Oh, no, not our Alex. Alex is gentle, gay and incurably optimist with a zest for life and an innocence that could have been a drag to read but it was truly a delight.

Jordan on the other hand, who is rich, famous, handsome and has everything going for him is world-weary, restrained, guarded and cold. He is also in danger right now.

Someone is trying to rob him by an inn near Alex’s Village. Alex, who at that moment was coming back from her friend’s birthday party-tournament thing and get this, was dressed in fully medieval armour rushes to help Jordan and ends up killing one of the bandits. She faints and Jordan, who thinks she is a young boy, takes her to the nearest inn and the two spend a good half an hour alone in a room waiting for help and by the time Jordan figures out she is a young lady, it is already too late, scandal had fallen upon them and Alex is ruined. Her mother takes her to Jordan’s estate and threatens with going public with the story of her daughter’s ruin in front of the dowager Duchess and Jordan who was completely amused by Alex’s quips and joie de vivre and also feels he owns his life to her, decides they have no choice but to marry. He secretly plans though, to carry on living as he always did, to keep his mistress and send Alex to a godforsaken part of the country pretty much like her own father did to her mother. Alex, knowing that they could never fit , tells him straight away why they can’t possibly marry. But Jordan knows they have no choice and he tries to seduce her into accepting him and there is a wonderful first kiss when the seducer becomes the seduced.

They marry in a rush and although Jordan wanted to wait a couple of years before consummating the marriage he realises he can’t fight his lust and their first time is at same time hilarious (for Alex has no clue on what is supposed to happen) , hot, sweet and tender – Jordan feels the first signs of something growing in his heart right there and then. But before they can do much, only a couple of days later and right before they are to leave on a short honeymoon, Jordan disappears. Alex, who already luuurvs him (she thinks he is gentle, honourable and sweet, poor Alex)is devastated at the loss of him and after a few days, everyone believes he is dead. That moment when acceptance hits both Alex and Jordan’s Grandmother, the duchess, is stuff for a Hollywood (alright, make it Bollywood) movies. It was heartbreaking.

Bollywood stuff
One year goes by and Alex, who is completely devoted to Jordan is preparing herself to be presented to the Ton , she wants to create a good impression so that she can make Jordan proud in heaven. She has her coming out but things turn really sour because she makes a fool out of herself. Oh, my poor baby. She carries her heart in her eyes and is so very open about how she thinks Jordan was the greatest, purest man alive when everyone knows how much of a rake and seducer he really was. She is ostracised for her innocence and when she finally learns who Jordan really was, how she was gullible and naïve, she crumbles down.

But Jordan is not in heaven , as you may have guessed. Oh nooooooooo. He is in hell aka a French dungeon where he is kept prisoner and tortured. But then he escapes.

Second moment of befuddlement.
How exactly, does one escape from a French dungeon after being beaten almost to death for almost a year? Not sure if I understand the dynamics of that. Anyway, again I pretend not to notice, because at that point, I am so anxious, and turning the pages because OMG Alex is about to marry Jordan’s cousin Tony and Jordan who spent the last year entrapped and dreaming and fantasising about Alex comes home and has to rush into church and coming back from the death in front of everyone. And he, who dreamed of having the innocent woman waiting for him crying her eyes out, is completely furious when he sees this ravishing young woman who DARES marry his cousin. He is now furious and cold again and assumes she is a money grabber and an opportunistic bitch.
This is the point when I thought I distinctly heard in the background “ like the sand through the hourglass these are the days of our lives”

because this is so like a soap! The turns and twists and then Jordan has to learn to trust his wife, and she has to learn to love him again and they try and try but someone is still trying to kill Jordan and he thinks she is involved and voila, Le Big Misunderstanding and until things are completely cleared, I am sitting by the edge of the seat , being furious at Jordan for hurting Alex until finally, finally we reach The End. Woonza!

It has an older book feel to it – if this notion is comprehensible to anyone but me. It doesn’t mean that this feel is particularly bad but it also didn’t knock my socks off.
I am not fond of the Big Misunderstanding, I feel the BM is an excuse to bring conflict to a story and it just doesn’t feel organic to me. I would much have preferred that they dealt with their misgivings or the sad childhood they both had instead of dealing with the constant feelings of mistrust from Jordan caused by his jumping to conclusions about Alex’s innocence in every aspect. Tsk, tsk.

My feelings exactly, Jack.
I rolled my eyes over and over – I have no patient for this sort of plot development – because the fact that the characters assume things makes it clear to me that they can’t communicate and when a couple can’t communicate it makes it hard to believe in their love. Simple as that. Another point that bugged me and that also points to lack of communication was the fact that both Jordan and Alex learnt about their sad pasts from other people. They never talked about it to each other. Another thing that intrigued me was how there is not a single mention of what Jordan went through for a whole year being tortured. Isn’t he sad? Doesn’t he have scars? Nightmares? Nothing? Nada? Niente? hummmmmmmmm, wow, he must be really strong. A fortress.

Could Jordan be as strong and perfect as Jack Shephard?
Having said that about the points I disliked, the good points were truly, amazing. The prose is good, the story flows beautifully and most of all , Alex the heroine was an absolute delight from her beginning as Pollyanna through her disillusionment and eventual turning into a mature young woman, but one who still believed in the goodness of people and in the miracle of life. She is Jordan’s knight in shinning armour, the one to bring joy and happiness to his life and to melt his cold, cold heart. Her innocence provided some of the funniest parts in the book.

My emotions were completely engaged and I felt my innards turn and turn and hurt along Alex’s. Oh the poor girl went through so much. There are small scenes that were so pungent and poignant: like Alex standing in front of Jordan’s portrait and talking to him. Or how her father, her miserable father has given her a pendant made of tin which she treasured until she learnt that his other daughter with his other wife, had earned one made of gold; or how her one treasure was her grandfather’s watch, which she presented to Jordan twice, and twice he did not care for it. OH, At points I wanted to wring Jordan’s neck!

Twice I bawled like a baby: when they think Jordan is dead and the Duchess and Alex cry together and in the end with one of the best grovelling scenes in the history of mankind: when Alex lies in the throes of death and Jordan breaks down beautifully begging her to not leave him when he finally, FINALLY realises what she means to him? That was really, something wonderful.

I cried like a baby in the end
There are parts of the book that are so amazing, I would give it a 10 if it wasn’t for the Big Drama, the Big Mis and the lack of communication between the main couple, which as a plotline does not work for me personally.

Rating: 6, Good. But I can see how other readers would give this a 10.

You Might Also Like


  • Katiebabs
    August 9, 2008 at 8:42 am

    I have never read Something Wonderful but yet again you are a bad ass mo fo book pimp and now I must go read!
    You should do Kingdom of Dreams. I so lurve that book to pieces.

  • Ana
    August 9, 2008 at 8:45 am

    KB I learnt book pimpage from the best! *wink*

  • Heloise (& Abelard)
    August 9, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Perfect review, this sums up my fears about going back to read any of my favorites, The Wolf and the Dove, Whitney My Love, etc. There is something about reading them in your teenage years that allows you to miss much of the ridiculousness.

  • M.
    August 9, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    hee! you are reminding of a great site i haven’t visited in a long time, don’t know why, called ‘popcorn and chainmail’ where historians do running commentary on all the errors and such in popular historically based films. it is absolutely hilarious, and you can tell that really, they really like (mostly) those films – the comments are made with affection rather than contempt. it’s great!

    Whitney My Love was one of the first romances I ever read, and somehow, at that stage in my reading career, found it both unputdownable and infuriating. I HATED the hero for not getting his comeuppance at all, and the heroine for allowing him to come back again and again. I’d be interested to know how it’s been edited…

  • M.
    August 9, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    totally forgot why i came here today in my previous post:

    wanted to say, ‘the accidental demon slayer’ arrived yesterday, thanks so much, smugglers!

    i will let you (and angie fox, in case she’s interested) known when i post a review.

    spahetti neck stella wheelie gig

  • Ana
    August 9, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks Heloise – it’s hard when you re visit old books or movies and find that you don’t like them anymore, isn’t it?

    M – Yay for the ADS! I understand completely your feelings about WML. The editing was made to the infamous “rape” and whipping scenes. The end has a bit more grovelling as well. It seems it has become much more palatable to the newer readers.

  • Jill D.
    August 9, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Damn! I have to skip this review because I haven’t read this book yet. I actually love JM, because I love DRAMA! But this review looks so good, because you used Jack. Damn, double damn!

  • Kate
    August 9, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Ok, I have to admit I just skimmed through the review looking for the interpretive photos of Jack. No offense, since it’s the best use of pop culture in a romance novel review I’ve ever, um, sort of read 🙂 Now I need to go watch the Olympics.

  • pidute
    August 9, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    arf i read it a long wile ago and like it .
    There was a scene at a party (i think) where she bet she never will be with him ,i thought it was quite funny .

    Thank you for the books by Lisa Shearin i received them on Wednesday ^_^

  • Zeek
    August 10, 2008 at 6:27 am

    I haven’t read this book in so long I so forget all what went on- but I LOVE those picture of Jack! I was SO lmao!

  • Srebrna
    August 11, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    You guys really know how to make review look awesome beside being great read.
    Great work Ana

  • Shannon
    August 14, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Oh thank god! I felt like there was something worng with me that I was so annoyed by Whitney, My Love. The Big Mis needs to be used sparingly and with great thought, not liberally peppered throughout. Argh.

    Your review was great. It convinced me (in the best possible way) to avoid this book. 🙂

Leave a Reply