Monday, January 02, 2006

Forbidden Magic

I'm not exactly sure what to make of Jo Beverley; her books always get great reviews and most readers tend to adore her characters. I always struggle to finish her books; they're very long and I always think they could be shorter. I recently finished her book FORBIDDEN MAGIC.

Left penniless after her parents deaths, Meg Gillingham is in dire straits. Her landlord has threatened to throw her and her siblings into the winter streets unless she surrenders her young sister to his lechery. Reluctantly, she turns for help to her only legacy: a magic statue that will grant wishes - for a price...

Meg never expects the statue to bring her a marriage proposal, especially not one from a handsome earl. But Lord Saxonhurst lives amid dark secrets, and even Meg delights in her seductive husband, she hesitates to trust him. Soon a villain will use her doubts to try to destroy their union and their lives. Now Meg must put her faith in another knd of magic - the magic of love.

The heroine must figure out a way to get out of the mess her parents' death left her in; short on funds, she in deeply in debt and has not paid her parents' friend, Sir Arthur, any rent on their cottage in months. Sir Arthur offers her a very simple solution: his help in exchange for her sister Laura. Meg is desperate, so decides to use something she promised herself she would never use: a magic family heirloom called the Sheelagh ma gig (or whatever the fuck). She makes a wish and next thing she knows an earl is asking for her hand in marriage.

The Earl of Saxonhurst is desperate to get married in order to spite his grandmother and prevent her from concocting some devilish plan to ruin his life (they don't exactly have the best relationship); he has his servants look for someone who is desperately in need of marriage; they find Meg. Soon the two are married. Meg forgets the magic statute at her old house and it's soon stolen by Sir Arthur; she doesn't tell her husband because she's afraid he'll dump her ass if he finds out (even though he insists he had to marry her because of the grandmother, she believes he'll still dump her because he'll think she tried to trick him with magic...whatever!).

The story proceeds with Meg lying through her teeth in order to get this statue back; all at the same time, the hypocrite develops a high and mighty stance and tells her husband FLAT OUT that she won't sleep with him until he makes peace with his grandmother. She wants his to be one big happy family. Argh! The back blurb is a bit misleading because it indicates that the "villian" nearly destroys the characters' marriage. This is false. The heroine did a pretty good job out of that all by her lonesome self. Her lies were really getting to me at a certain point. There's a part when she goes to visit Sir Arthur; he ends up dead somehow and everyone's looking to hang her, believing she killed him. What does she do? Does she run to her husband? NOOOOOOOOO...why would she do something crazy like that, when she can run to her husband's evil grandmother instead? I had enough of her and her reasoning and that was just the last straw for me.

Sax, the hero, won my heart. Never have I encountered a man with so many issues who's come out so remarkably well. What a delight! His interactions with his servants and his eccentric ways of dealing with anger made me laugh out loud. The fact that he really seemed to be happy with his marriage and his new family (Meg's brothers and sisters) really touched me.

Now, there were times when I liked Meg. Whenever she interacted with Sax, you could cut the sexual tension with a knife, but I really didn't appreciate her lying to him so much. It was unnecessary and I felt betrayed for him. She should have known better; everyone around her was telling her she could trust HIM and NOT HIS GRANDMOTHER, yet she never listened. Whatever...the book wasn't a complete loss. I would give it a strong B. I might one day reread it, but I think I'm done with Beverley for a bit. Her books really get me thinking...they're challenging and I love the challenge...I just wish her heroines were more likeable.

Next - another non-Avon author.

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