Enchanted by Magic
This is a difficult synopsis to write, for I didn’t know what was going on for the longest time. I read the prelude twice which, I believe, laid out the rules and history of the fantasy world as described by the pixies Allegro and Largo along with the future roles of the hero and heroine. There was something about a broken harp, a troll-trap, The Flower – it was incredibly confusing – and I decided to go on and let it flow over me, concentrating on the romance and hoping all would become clear. Well, it didn’t until the pixie Allegro had to explain it all to a six year old girl almost 100 pages into the novel:
”I, young miss, am a faerie and my name is Allegro Soprano from the country of Jubilant. Pixies live on the love of humans, or harmonics. Our lives depend upon happiness between couples. I’m here to restore the lock on Sedah that keeps trolls underground by making Grant, the Keeper of the Flower, and Lauren fall in love. It’s the ruby that holds the powers that will repair the harp which is needed for its magical song to keep the trolls at bay.”
Got that? Ok, so Grant is the Duke of Chillhart (or maybe he’s the earl. His title changes back and forth so many times, often within the same chapter, that I’m never quite sure. At one point he and Lauren are introduced as “The Earl and Duchess of Chillhart.”) and he is up to his eyeballs in debt due to his late father and living brother’s gambling. His recently deceased grandmother left him her vast fortune on the condition that he wed Lady Lauren Hughes, purported to be her long-lost granddaughter, who disappeared at sea with her family years ago.
Lauren is not the long-lost granddaughter, but the daughter of a thief and swindler who had previously stolen the Chillhart ruby, “The Flower of the Heath.” It was eventually restored to the Chillhart family, but because of the theft, Grant’s father committed suicide and Lauren’s was deported and died. She and her two younger sisters were left on their own in the London stews and now the middle sister, Beth, has been kidnapped. She will be released in exchange for “The Flower,” and so Lauren has cooked up the scheme of posing as the long-lost granddaughter in order to have access to the Chillhart family home and search for the ruby. She grew to love the old lady and is still in the house when Grant arrives, angry, but ready to marry the scheming fortune hunter and make the best of it.
According to the first chapter’s heading, this story takes place in 1811, but the entire book is riddled with so many blatant historical inaccuracies that I found myself listing them rather than tracking the development of the relationship; an easy thing to do for there was more happening on the inaccuracy front:
- Lauren reads Pride and Prejudice two years before it is published and the book’s heroine is now Miss Bingley, rather than Elizabeth Bennet.
- Prime Minister Spencer Percival (who was assassinated in 1813) is spoken of as being killed several years previously.
- There is talk about the approaching battle of Waterloo (1815).
- Beth’s disappearance is explained away by her attendance at a boarding school in France (in the middle of the war?)
- The East India Company is spoken of as having been dissolved (1874)
- The Bride’s Cake has little bride and groom figurines on top of it, a Victorian custom.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Given that I read an “Unedited Advance Reading Copy,” some of this may have been spotted by someone and fixed before it went to print, but I would also assume that the book had already been through several readers before getting to this stage, so I don’t hold out much hope.
So how was it aside from that? Pretty bad. There seems to be such a nice built-in conflict – falling in love with the daughter of the man responsible for the death of your father – but that is never really an issue, as Lauren’s true identity isn’t revealed until very late in the book. When Grant then asks for her true name, a not unreasonable request to my mind, Lauren gets all huffy and lectures him on his lack of trust. I’m with Grant on this one. I would find it hard to trust a spouse who won’t tell me her name, especially as her having signed a false one on the marriage certificate renders the marriage invalid, something which doesn’t seem to occur to either Grant or the author.
The villain is blatantly clear and Grant and Lauren’s actions around him deliberately obtuse. The pixies are supposed to offer some comic relief, but they were, for the most part, simply annoying, though I did enjoy Allegro’s interactions with Lauren’s six year old sister, Chloe. In fact, Chloe is the reason why this book didn’t receive a grade of “F,” for she is a charming girl, quickly ensnaring Grant’s affections long before he fell for Lauren. But I don’t read romance to fall in love with six year old girls.