The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein
by Minda Webber
(Love Spell, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52637-9
*****
Clair Frankenstein has a reputation to uphold. After all, her family is filled with fascinating people. For example, Uncle Victor, well everyone in nineteenth century London knows about Victor's electrical experiments and "monstrous" results. As for Clair, to date her only startling scientific discovery happens to involve pigs and a graveyard. It's not an auspicious beginning for a Frankenstein.

Determined to make her mark and win the award for Scientific Discovery of the Decade, Clair sets off to prove that vampires not only live in London, but are also accepted among the ton. Her first suspect is the rakish Baron Ian Huntsley. Who else but a vampire would have such large white teeth, keep late hours and be so renowned for his lovemaking skills? It is Clair's duty, not only as a scientist, but also as a Frankenstein to expose this dashing fiend. Armed with her trusty Van Helsing stake, Clair sets off alone to expose him.

Ian is flabbergasted. The woman shows up unannounced, breaks into his home, threatens him with a stake and then has the nerve to call him a scoundrel. Surely this young girl is going to get herself killed. After all, Ian may not be a bloodsucking fiend, but in this day and age, Clair is certain to stumble across one; and knowing her, she'll ask him point blank how he likes his blood. Yes, it is Ian's duty to protect her (and her magnificent bosom). Therefore, he enacts "Plan A: The Seduction of Clair Frankenstein," for her own good of course. But with Clair always one step ahead of Ian, he finds himself quickly running out of plans, and letters of the alphabet.

The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein is a zany adventure from the first page to the last. Webber drops names so fast, it's hard to catch them. Clair's best friend is a Van Helsing, her "cousin" Frederick was made from recycled body parts, a man named Artie Doyle follows around her colleague Homes and his pal Whutson. It's all done in a very tongue-in-cheek manner that, in the hands of a less talented writer, could easily be obnoxious. Yet Weber never takes it too far, and makes sure to make each character her own, no matter how unoriginal her naming skills. This makes for an interesting twist on some old tales.

The hi-jinks extend further than just Weber's witty way with words. Clair is a fascinating character, a stunning combination of naiveté, intelligence and wanton hussy. She's a complete anachronism for her time, and noted as such. Weber avoids the trap of having nineteenth century characters adopt twenty-first century mannerisms, simply by making her heroine a bit of an odd duck. As outrageous and unbelievable as the story is, the romance between Clair and Ian rings true. As the tale progresses, it's easy to see why Ian is intrigued by Clair. She's funny, charming, beautiful and vulnerable. But at the same time, she has an amazing strength that allows her to defend that which she loves and believes in at all costs.

As for Ian, he's easily the ideal romantic hero. Possessing the usual hero attributes-strength, looks, charm and a title-Ian also has something else: a sense of humor. He's not only witty; he's able to see humor in the world around him. He doesn't look at Clair and see a bumbling fool or a woman who doesn't know her place. Ian appreciates every aspect of Clair, even that which may get her killed. The two are truly well matched.

While, not likely to be considered world-changing fiction, The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein is a great book. It's cute, it's funny and at times, heart-warming. Weber has created escapist fiction at its best and leaves the reader clamoring for more.

--Amanda Waters


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