Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dangerous Magic by Alix Rickloff

Cornwall, 1812

Gwenyth Killigrew, the Witch of Kerrow, has seen the tragic fate that awaits any man she's foolish enough to fall in love with. Yet she yearns for a daughter to carry on her healer's wisdom and otherworldly gifts of Sight. When Rafe Fleming, a notorious smuggler, washes ashore near her home, she thinks she's found the man to father that child.

Rafe knew his time as an outlaw was coming to an end. He just hadn't realized it would be on the dangerous Cornwall coast, in the home of an alluring witch. After Gwenyth saves him, they strike a bargain: he'll give her a child, and she'll help him find a proper wife so he can reenter society and pick up the pieces of his shattered life.

But the more time Rafe spends with Gwenyth—in and out of bed—the more he questions what he thinks he wants. He must choose between the wife he needs and the woman he desires...if falling for Gwenyth doesn't kill him first.

Reviewer: Fashionta
Gwenyth is the local witch and healer in the Cornish village of Kerrow. She’s more than that – she’s a woman of Sight that gives her ability to read others’ emotions and sometimes predict the future. It is in one of these visions that she’s seen the death of her lover so she’s careful not to fall in love in order to avoid the disaster. However, she comes from a long line of wise women and it’s her duty to carry on that line and produce a child of her own. She’s already 28, good and ready for motherhood, the only problem is to find a suitable man – and not to fall in love. Luckily in her family a woman doesn’t have to marry the father of her children – witches’ ways are not the same as the common folks’.

Rafe wouldn’t marry her anyway – even if he is a smuggler and an outcast, he’s still noble born. And now that he has amassed enough money by his trade he’s determined to take back his place in society. He’s been betrayed before so he makes a bargain with Gwenyth – a child of his body for her help. But of course by the time they make that bargain they are inn too deep with each other to think rationally.

It is a pretty original plot for a Regency romance – even if the falsely accused prodigal son is common, a village witch helping him is not. But it’s been problematic for me to accept Gwenyth at face value so I just don’t know what I think of her. She’s supposed to be a “peasant” (and a Cornish one, at that) in respect to Rafe’s noble family, but neither her speech nor her habits are much different. To me she looks more like an impoverished gentlewoman – not used to servants and luxury, but well acquainted with the rules of the society. That’s right, I can believe in reading emotions, past and future (I read a lot of paranormal books), but supernatural abilities that can compensate for a lifetime of education – no way. And the reading emotions part didn’t endear me much to the heroine either. The author did a good job of describing The Sight, how it’s mostly uncontrollable, coming and going, not always there for Gwenyth to navigate her way in the world of not-so-gifted humans, how she’s always sick after “reading” someone. It’s not that perfect a life to have it. Still, I find myself unable to relate to the heroine who always knows what people around her feel about her and each other. And it deprives the plot of much of the tension and the action.

Can’t say I felt much more for Rafe – he was okay, but I didn’t fall for him. For the most part I felt distanced from the heroes, maybe because the first third of the book was extremely slow paced. I understand the need to set up the characters and the intrigue, but the plot didn’t move at all and I got very restless, even stopped reading a couple of times. Luckily it got going once they reached Rafe’s family home but by then I already resigned myself to the role of an observer.

That said, I would never call Dangerous Magic a bad book. It is beautifully written, more so than many a historical romance. The author has a flair for describing places, you literally feel the salty air of Cornwall coast and hear the leafy language the Sussex forest speaks, even if you’d never been there, like me. Usually I’m not a fan of landscape descriptions, but Alix Rickloff knows a trick to make them interesting. I also spied two intriguing male characters I’d like to read more about – one a war-crippled nobleman-spy and the other an Irish assassin our witch felt could be a better man. So I’d definitely keep an eye for a possible series involving them, even if this book wasn’t quite to my taste. 3 stars

Publishing Date: Oct. 31, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press
Review Courtesy Of: NetGalley

See the original review on goodreads


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Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

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