Again The Magic, by Lisa Kleypas

>> Monday, July 19, 2004

Some comments in the July 1st, 2004 ATBF at AAR made me want to read a book that had previously not caught my fancy: Again The Magic, by Lisa Kleypas.

She gave him her innocence . . .Lady Aline Marsden was brought up for one reason: to make an advantageous marriage to a member of her own class. Instead, she willingly gave her innocence to John McKenna, a servant on her father's estate. Their passionate transgression was unforgivable -- John was sent away, and Aline was left to live in the countryside . . . an exile from London society . . .and he took her love.

Now McKenna has made his fortune, and he has returned -- more boldly handsome and more mesmerizing than before. His ruthless plan is to take revenge on the woman who shattered his dreams of love. But the magic between them burns as bright as ever. And now he must decide whether to let vengeance take its toll . . . or risk everything for his first, and only, love.
Very readable, but also a bit frustrating. I'd give it a B.

Well, this is a Big Secret book. For a Big Secret plot to succeed with me, I need that the secret be really "Big", that is, important enough that it be reasonable that the character with the secret be so worried that it may come out. Also, I need that it be kept secret only long enought as it's reasonable that the character does so.

Did Again The Magic fulfill those criteria? Well, it's complicated. Ok, this is not really a spoiler, as we know about it early on, but if you don't want to know, stop right here:


the reason Aline doesn't feel she can have a relationship with McKenna is that she had an accident not long after he was sent away and her legs got burned and are now a mass of scar tissue and so on. She doesn't want him to see them, because she fears he'll either be repulsed or sorry for her.

Another secret is the reasons why Aline told McKenna to leave in such a merciless way: she knew he wouldn't stay away unless he thought she really wanted him to, and she feared for his safety unless he left. This secret was ok to me, because, actually, she didn't reveal it only because it made it easier for her to keep it secret, in the sense that McKenna was less likely to pressure her into having a relationship if he thought he was a bitch who had played with his feelings all those years ago (the reason she didn't want him to love her being, of course, the other secret). Hope this all makes sense!

Ok, then, the secret about her legs. On one hand, this is the type of thing people actually do feel very insecure about, so it didn't exactly stretch my credulity that Aline would be so bound and determined to keep it a secret. A single instance of trying to put herself into McKenna's position (how would *I* feel if his legs were scarred all over) would have been enough, I guess, but I understand how she could have been a little irrational about it all. So far so good.

However, on the other hand, I got the feeling that Aline was a bit too determined to be a martyr about her legs. Also, all her insistence, near the end of the book, not to reveal her secret was about preserving her pride, no matter how much this made her and McKenna (the man she supposedly loved) suffer. This was much less palatable to me, and meant that the Big Secret plot didn't completely succeed with me.

What I did like, and a lot, was McKenna's attitude towards Aline. Yes, his plan is to get revenge on her, but it's terribly obvious that he still loves her too much to follow through with his plans. He just cannot be cruel to her. And the scene near the end, when he tells her it doesn't matter if she doesn't love him, he has more than enough love for both... awww. It really exacerbated my frustration with Aline, unfortunately.

I also enjoyed the secondary romance, between Aline's "ruined" sister and McKenna's alcoholic American partner. I especially liked the resolution, it felt much more realistic that those alcoholics magically cured from one day to another by the love of a good woman.

I liked the plot very much, the complete focus on the relationships and the lack of an extraneous suspense subplot. A couple of things felt a bit anachronistic, though, like the ease with which both Aline and Livia would go around making out and even having sex with their lovers all over the place, right under their brother's nose, seemingly unworried that someone would notice.That stretched even my credulity, and I'm not much of a stickler for historical accuracy.

All in all, a very enjoyable book.


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