Review: Merely Magic

Posted March 3, 2011 by Jen in 4 stars, Historical Romance, Rating A Tags:

Merely Magic
Release Date: re-release March 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks/Casablanca
Magic Series Book 1
ISBN: #978-1402251931
Genre: Historical Romance
Format(s): paperback (352 pgs), e-book 
I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review.
From the back cover:
She has the magic as her birthright…
Ninian is a healer, but she’s a Malcolm first and foremost, and Malcolms have always had a bit of magic-unpredictable though it is-to aid them in their pursuits. She knows she must accept what she is or perish, but then Lord Drogo Ives arrives, brining the deepest, most powerful magic she’s ever experienced and turning Ninian’s world upside down…
A man of science doesn’t believe in anything he can’t see….
Drogo Ives has no time for foolish musings or legends, even if he can’t seem to resist the local witch. Thrown together by a series of disastrous events, Ninian won’t give herself fully to Drogo until she can make him trust and believe in her, and that’s the last thing he’ll ever do…
As the danger and chaos surrounding them escalates, Drogo and Ninian will be forced to decide: their love or their lives…
What I’m talking about:
Ninian is an outsider in her small village. Although she grew up among the villagers and counts some as friends, the legend of the Malcolm witches keep the superstitious denizens at a cautious distance.  On the night of the Beltane, Ninian watches the villagers from a far before moving on to collect some herbs. On her walk she discovers that Lord Drogo, the Earl of Ives, has moved into the Wystan castle – the first Ives to live there in generations. She is instantly taken with the dark stranger, and he is held captive by Ninian’s charm.  Soon a series of events ties the two together. 
Although Ninian and Drogo fight instant attraction, his meddling step-sister brews an aphrodisiac that lands the two in bed early on in the story. Neither is willing to change his/her life nor do either want marriage. Yet when Drogo discovers Ninian is pregnant, a hope for the heir he’s never had emerges and he insists on a wedding.  
I throughly enjoyed this love story. Ninian and Drogo are both stubborn yet not so obstinate that they are willing to give their relationship a chance, even with all of their differences. They undergo a “one-step forward, two-steps back” type of courtship, but find their way in the end. The story is told from both perspectives, and each was balanced and thoughtful. I loved that their romance wasn’t a “sweep me off my feet” type story. Their love had to grow, just like it does in real life. They are strongly attracted to one another, but both logical people. They both realize that they don’t think the same, and both recognize their own faults and weakness in making the relationship work. And although each pulls away at different times, neither truly gives up, which leads to an emotionally satisfying tale.
The story has a hint of mysticism – a little magic, a mysterious ghost.  But it is written in such a way as to mirror both Ninian’s and Drogo’s own beliefs. She sees magic, he finds reason and science. Both sides are equally presented and it’s left for the reader to decide what is real… but in truth, the reality is based on perception.
There are a slew of side characters as well. Some we get to know more than others. One is Drogo’s step-sister, Sarah.  She is meddlesome and overly protective, but her heart is usually in the right place. I enjoyed watching Sarah go from front and center to the background as Ninian learns to “take her place” as head of the household.  I would have liked to know more about Sarah – her strained relationship with her mother, her children, etc.
Sourcebooks Publishing has re-issued this delightful tale, and I for one am glad. It’s an honest look at true love through diverse and sometimes dire circumstances. I can only hope that Sourcebooks will re-issue the subsequent stories!
My Rating: 
Really enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)

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