Bewitched, by Heather Cullman

>> Monday, November 18, 2002

On Sunday, I read Heather Cullman's Bewitched.

Plot summary:

Once the most sought-after bachelor in England, Michael Vane, Duke of Sherrington, now lives in isolation at his dark, brooding mansion on the moors. Ever since the strange illness that nearly took his life, Michael has suffered debilitating seizures that leave him weak, and far worse, a madman in the eyes of the ton. As no respectable lady will have him, Michael has accepted his hermitage, oblivious of his distant cousin�s devious plan to have him declared insane.

But his grandmother has other plans to save Michael from a fate worse than death, and preserve the duchy for the rightful heir. She plans to wed her dearest friend�s granddaughter to Michael. The dowagers devise a plan for the American heiress to wed Michael when she arrives in England.

Though Michael is opposed to the marriage from the start, his grandmother has a few tricks up her sleeve and convinces Michael that marrying Emily is his only option. Thrice-betrothed, Emily knows the curse that haunts her will prevent her from ever finding and marrying for love, and thus she consents to her grandmother�s wishes, never expecting to find love on the isolated moors of Dartmoor.

But Emily and Michael find a love that transcends all else as it heals wounded souls and hearts, conquering the inner demons that would keep them enslaved within the darkness of a world without hope.

This was a lot like the last Cullman I read, in that it had some things that were so great that I wanted to love it, but I couldn't because it had too many flaws.

First, I loved that it was so romantic. We have a very simple plot here: no villains, no real trouble, but 2 people falling in love and trying to deal with Michael's illness. The thing about Michael's cousins trying to declare him insane just disappears after being used as a plot device for getting them married, but I didn't miss it. Michael and Emily become friends first, friends! This is so uncommon in romance novels, and then they fall in love, platonic love, and just throw verbal flowers at each other for pages on end. Incredibly enough, not too boring. ;-) And Michael was a wonderful wounded hero. No stupid "my momma didn't love me, so I fuck everything in skirts" excuse for his bitterness, the guy really did have reasons to be a bastard but didn't choose to be one.

The problem is, the novel has to have some conflict, and Cullman, apparently not believing Michael's illness to be enough, throws in some lame stuff about a curse and magic. This lowered the book a full point for me. I thought Emily was stupid when she started blathering about the curse, but when I came to the scene in the stone circle, with spirits floating about, I thought the book was stupid. The only thing I liked about all this was Magellan the goat. He reminded me of my cat O'Neill (I'll have to remember to post his pic!).

I also had a problem with Michael's reasons for not wanting to consumate the marriage. He was going to have a seizure some day or another, and Emily was going to see it. Better to have it now and not dread it for months. But it made for a really hot first (and only) love scene.

All in all, a B+. A real keeper which wasn't because of the stupid magic stuff.

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