Title: Forbidden Magic
Author: Jo Beverley
Publisher: NAL, A Division of Penguin
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Print ISBN: 978-0451232182
eBook ISBN: 978-1101210437
Length: 368 Pages
Format: Trade Size Paperback
Left penniless after her parents' death, Meg Gillingham is in dire straits. Her cruel landlord threatens to turn her and her siblings out of their home at Christmastide -- unless she surrenders her young sister to his lecherous whims. Only a miracle can save them: a magic statue that grants wishes -- for a price.
Meg never expected the statue to bring her a handsome earl offering marriage, and warily waits for the sting in the magic's tail. Soon, however, charming, eccentric Sax is weaving magic of his own -- until the statue is lost and Meg is plunged into danger of losing him, her family, and perhaps even her life.
This is a sweet and light Regency romance with a heroine who has a touch of paranormal power. The dialogue between the characters is sharp, occasionally funny and highly entertaining. Both the primary and secondary characters drew me into their world and kept me engrossed in the story.
The heroine, Meg Gillingham, is a practical young woman whose parent's death has left her responsible for her siblings. Unfortunately her parents left them penniless and at the mercy of their landlord, Sir Arthur Jakes, a "friend" of Meg's father. The only heirloom her parents left is a Sheela Na Gig or "Sheelagh", a magic statue that is supposed to grant the wishes of the women in her family who can wield it's "magic". A magic that always carries a price. When Sir Arthur demands that Meg either pays all of the past due rent or hand over her younger sister, Laura, to be his mistress, Meg realizes she has no choice but to use the "Sheelagh" and wishes for a solution to her family's problem.
Frederick, The Earl of Saxonhurst, or "Sax" as everyone calls him, is a fantastic hero. He has a house full of servants who he treats as part of his family, a precocious parrot named Knox and an extremely ugly dog named Brak. He does have some flaws though, a temper that leads to the destruction of his own property and a strong hatred toward his maternal grandmother, The Duchess of Daingerfield. When he receives a note the day before his 25th birthday reminding him if he is not married by the end of the next day, his grandmother will get to choose his bride, he becomes desperate and confides in his servants. One of them suggests that he marry Meg and he promptly agrees and makes his proposal via letter. When Meg replies that she's willing to marry him if he agrees to help her take care of her younger siblings, he readily agrees and makes their wedding arrangements.
The scenes between Meg and Sax are charming and funny. Their dialogue is highly entertaining and they have great chemistry. Being strangers when they married, Meg and Sax have a lot to learn about each other and Ms. Beverly did an excellent job developing their characters. Meg is afraid that Sax will discover how she "wished" him into marriage and Sax is determined to seduce his wife. Sax is also somewhat unconventional and at times Meg wonders if she's married a mad man.
When Meg finds herself being blackmailed by Sir Arthur, Sax has to come to her rescue, which gives them an opportunity to develop their relationship further. The secondary characters were well done and I was happy to see the "villains" in the story get their just desserts. The ending of the story is well done and resolved all of the open story lines. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more of this author's work.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
FTC Disclosure: The book reviewed was purchased by the review site