ISBN: 978-0-345-44919-1 (Ballantine Books)
Finished: 3 November 2007
Who: Abigail “Abby” Barton and Jack Langdon, Lord Frayne
When: 1793; 1813
Summary: Knowing all to well his distaste for wizards, Abby Barton takes a great risk by performing healing magic powerful enough to save Jack Langdon, Lord Frayne, after he suffers a devastating accident. Her price: Jack’s hand in marriage. Once she has Jack’s name and the child she has always longed for, Abby is determined to live apart from him so that he can preserve his reputation — and so that she can stay true to her gifts.
Comments: After several weeks of globe-trotting for goddess grails; battling a mind-controlling, evil albino faerie in DC; and hanging out with a lion king, hellhounds, and assorted magic users — good and bad — I felt I needed something a little less. . .intense. No hanging out with Dark Lords of the Sith, you know? However, it was still October and there was a good chance that, whatever I chose to read, I would finish the book by Halloween. I didn’t, of course, but not because of the length of the book or my ability to get into it. Time. Uninterrupted reading time.
The Marriage Spell is a Regency with a twist. Magic has been an accepted, barely, since the time of the Black Death. The nobility looks down on it as something that only women and the working classes dabble in. The ability appears in any person, regardless of station in life, and the aristocracy isn’t happy about that. So if a nobleman’s male heir shows an interest in — or any latent ability for — magic, he’s sent to Stonebridge Academy. The students are taught to hate magic and their in-born abilities for it. That’s what happened to Jack.
The near-fatal accident has Jack reevaluating his life. He’s decides to accept Addy’s hand — even after she’s tells him that she’s releasing him from the betrothal — sell out of the army, take his place in the House of Lords, and finally return to his estate, which he’s been neglecting for quiet some time.
For her part, Abby’s had a crush on Jack for a number of years. Her father’s estate is located on prime hunting land and Abby first spied him ten years previously. As the daughter of a baronet, she is still considered well-born enough to have socialized with him — and even considered a potential wife — if this were a traditional regency. However, as the daughter of a wizard with substantial talent herself, she might as well be the daughter of a tradesman.
Jack’s friends — fellow alumni of Stonebridge — bring the grievously injured viscount to Abby’s door. The damage is so extensive that Abby fears that her abilities will not be enough, and that her efforts will be in vain at the risk of her own life. She agrees to call together a healing circle — and shocks even herself when she ask nothing in payment but marriage.
Jack and Abby click right away. Jack realizes, while he’s recuperating, that he knows her real character better than any debutante’s and finds that he enjoys her company. They also talk to each other and listen to what the other has to say. There is no Big Misunderstanding — that’s saved for Jack’s sister and her husband. Jack and Abby work through things as a couple, and that’s what made this book a “comfort read”.
This is my first Mary Jo Putney book and I enjoyed it very much. I chose this book because of the positive review it was given on All About Romance. I know that many long-time fans of her work don’t rate it very highly, but I think it makes a good introduction to her. In fact, I will definitely look into her other works.