Review of THE MARRIAGE SPELL by Mary Jo Putney (see her website)
Ballantine Books, May 2006
Broken of his interest in magic as a young man, Jack Langdon, Lord Frayne now lives for the hunt, the War, and for adventure. While home from the penninsula campaign against Napoleon, Langdon's horse takes a fall and Langdon is critically injured. His friends recognize only one hope--can magic somehow save his life?
Abby Barton has long nursed a crush on Langdon. When his broken body is brought to her home, and his friends promise her any reward at all if she can save him, she impulsively offers a bargain--if she saves him, will he marry her? Marriage seems a better answer than death and Langdon agrees, which puts Abby in a quandry. Can she really enter into a marriage, knowing she's coerced the man she loves into marrying a woman he doesn't want?
As she heals him, Abby learns a lot about Langdon, including the fact that he has magical talents of his own--talents he's not only denied, but hated. The land is full of prejudice against the magical and even Abby, daughter of a Baronet, has to worry about being burned. Langdon's problems go deeper--and include spells cast on him by his teachers, a beautiful Spanish woman, and by someone with a type of dark magic that is more dangerous than anything Abby has ever faced.
Author Mary Jo Putney (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Putney) combines paranormal elements with regency romance, resulting in a winning combination. All of the regency elements--the elegant dresses that turn the ugy duckling into a beautiful swan, the rough criminals of London, the elaborate rituals of balls and society are lovingly painted. Putney's description of magic as something recognized but hated and feared adds a level of complexity to the plot--and to the relationship. Because Abby has used magic to help Langdon, can she really trust that he wants her for herself. Even when she offers to free him from his promise, how can she know whether his honor, or love propells him to stay with her.
Putney's strong writing and interesting characters propell the reader through the story. THE MARRIAGE SPELL is an enjoyable romp.
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