Desert Isle Keeper
Stranger at the Wedding
This isn’t a romance novel – it’s a fantasy novel with a romantic subplot. Still, if you like fantasy romances, you should try this book. And if you’ve never read a fantasy novel before, this is a good place to start. While it is primarily a fantasy, it never loses its focus on the outspoken heroine’s story.
Kyra was disowned by her wealthy family and is now studying to become a wizard. Then she learns that her younger sister, Alix, is about to marry the son of a wealthy merchant. Kyra’s usual studies are interrupted by strange signs. One night, Kyra has a premonition that her sister will die on her wedding night. Kyra travels a great distance to return to her family’s home for the first time in six years. She has arrived just in time. Alix will marry her fiance Spens the next day. Kyra has no choice but to use magic to postpone the wedding. This is risky because the Inquisition, a zealous religious group,could catch her – and perhaps burn her at the stake for using magic. Also, if the other wizards detect her spells, she might be repudiated. To make matters worse, Kyra spies her sister Alix meeting with a young man in secret – and it’s not Spens.
Because of Kyra’s spell, the wedding is postponed. Kyra continues to work in secret, casting spells that will interfere with the wedding. Readers will enjoy wondering what she will do next. This adds both suspense and humor. Meanwhile, Kyra tries to find out why someone would want her sister dead. Is it a thwarted lover? Or a wizard with a grudge against her father? When Kyra and Spens join forces to find answers, everything comes to a crisis. Alix runs away, and the Inquisition comes looking for Kyra. Spens helps her escape, and together, they set out to rescue Alix.
Anyone who’s been through a wedding will relate to this book. Anything that can go wrong does. Meanwhile, rivals try to interfere with the wedding. Kyra isn’t the only one casting spells! While the element of magic might be new for romance readers, several other aspects of the plot will be familiar and enjoyable.
Both Kyra and Spens are intriguing characters. Tall and clumsy, Kyra doesn’t conform to the standards of beauty in her society. She is intelligent and quick to speak her mind, even at the risk of embarrassing her family. Her interactions with the other characters enliven the novel. Spens is an unexpected hero. At first glance, he’s a merchant who looks stout when he wears red satin. Over time, Kyra gets to know him better. He can defend himself in a fight, yet he’s also understanding. Not as much attention is spent on their relationship as in a romance novel, but it’s still an important part of the story.
I did have a problem with the structure of the plot. At first, we don’t know why Kyra was disowned. The events are revealed piecemeal. Once the final revelations come about, the reader might wonder why Kyra didn’t suspect the truth all along.
Stranger at the Wedding is a self-contained novel set in the same world as Barbara Hambly’s popular Windrose Chronicles series. She has also written vampire novels with historical settings, including Those Who Hunt the Night. If you enjoy Stranger at the Wedding as much as I did, you may soon be glomming them all.