The Marriage Spell by Mary Jo Putney

So it looks like I'm behind on writing blog reviews. So sorry. I'm going to try to catch up and post some of the more recent reads. These might not be as in-depth as usual (hell, they usually aren't that in-depth anyways).

The Marriage Spell by Mary Jo Putney is a paranormal Regency romance. No relation to her Guardian series. Strictly a standalone book.

One of the Duke of Wellington’s most respected officers, Jack Langdon, Lord Frayne, takes his family’s honor very seriously. He also hides a shameful secret: a talent for sorcery he has been raised to suppress and openly reject. But after an injury lands Jack at death’s door, his only chance at survival lies with Abigail Barton, a peer’s daughter and a skilled wizard. Her price: Jack’s hand in marriage. It isn’t long before Jack feels an irresistible attraction to his forthright new wife, whose allure is as intense as the reawakening magical abilities he can no longer deny.

Abigail had to make a great sacrifice to perform a spell powerful enough to save Lord Frayne, and although she cannot help but be drawn to her reluctant husband’s surprising sensitivity and kindness, she knows all too well his distaste for magic. Once she has Jack’s name and the child she has always longed for, she is determined to live apart from him so that he can preserve his reputation–and so that she herself can stay true to her gifts.

But neither Abby nor Jack reckons on the deep, long-simmering passions her spell ignites. They challenge each other’s extraordinary powers and deepest desires for the sake of a love that may cost them all they cherish most.

I really enjoyed The Marriage Spell. It's simple, but incredibly sweet. I also liked how MJP didn't use the Big Mis as a plot element. Abigail and Jack are some of the more open characters I've read about. Yes, the story shows their developing romance, but they go about it in a very real manner. I also really liked how magic is added into the mix. I much preferred TMS to Second Sight, which featured a similar paranormal element. Although I thought Jack got over his problems a bit quick in the end, I also did believe in the end.

I'd say The Marriage Spell is a great book if you're looking for something sweet and simple. And I don't mean simple in a bad way. More that there's not a lot of dark conflict and it's not that complex. It's just a great romance. With some nicely added magical elements. And a rather nice cover, too.

It had been awhile since I read Mary Jo Putney and I think I'll have to start reading some of the books I've missed since I stopped.


SKapusniak said...

I read the e-book version.

I really, really, liked the romance in this. So nice to have a hero and heroine -- especially in an historical (even if it's an alt.historical) -- who are actually sane about their relationship with each other. Who when they're making the inevitable blunders, quickly realise they've done so and set about sorting it without pages and pages of perfectly avoidable angst, and who when their partner says 'You know you're being an idiot here?' are comfortable enough with each other to hold up their hands and admit 'Yep. You're right'.

When the heroine avoided the obvious big mis. possiblity near the beginning by being realistic and sensible, it was such a relief.

So a straight A for me for the romance, because it fit my lo-angst tastes perfectly.


The magic system was good. Interesting and intriguing and well described, but I think it got a bit away ftom Mary Jo towards the end in terms of the scaling up in power for the final showdown with the villain. I didn't find the explanation for that particularly convincing.

So a B for the Magic.


The part of the book I really struggled with, was the alternate history that causes us to have wizards running around in the Regency period with the nobility treating magic as worse than *shock, horror* trade. It has IMO one extremely serious fundamental problem that meant I just couldn't suspend my disbelief about it.


The point of departure (POD) from the history of our world is that during the Black Death the people with wizardly talents, hitherto having kept those talents secret, revealed themselves in order to be able to heal those with the plague.

The Black Death swept across europe between 1347 and 1350. That's a whole *450* years or so before the time period of the book. Prior to huge history shaping events like the discovery of America, and the Reformation. And that's ignoring the POD itself. The Black Death, had a huge effect on the social structure of Europe, something that mitigates it even a bit is going to change things.

And yet in the book it's the early 19th century, and history has changed so little in the intervening years that the English still end up fighting Napoleon under Wellington.

That's just impossible for me to swallow.

450 years after the such a change the world should be pretty much unrecognisable. People doing magic in public, and especially healing magic that can swing the life or death of people one way or the other, would have had a massive effect on the course of history down the ages.

Also, whatever the equivalent of the artistocracy you had by the time of the book, they certainly wouldn't be eschewing magic, because considered over that length of time aristocracy is all about the acquiring and retention of power. Magic would definately be a source of power.

I think Ms.Putney would have done better, and also made the whole backstory more interesting, to bring the point of departure into the recent past of the book. Say tying it into to the French revolution -- wizards in France come of the closet as part of the general revolutionary fervour.

That would also provide a really great explantion for why the English aristocracy (and also the common people) are down on Magic and wizards. It's disgustingly French and Revolutionary! It would also mean the Napoleonic wars happening on schedule with pretty much the same cast of characters, would be at least arguably plausible.


So I'm afraid a mere D for the alt.history background. Nice idea, really mistaken execution, sorry :(


Overall I'd give it a solid B, because it's the romance that's the main thing in a romance novel after all :)

Nicole said...

I do agree with you about the history. It did throw me for a loop when I was reading it, but I liked the romance so much that I ignored most of it.

Bev (BB) said...

How did I miss this one?

Well, I suspect I know how because Putney isn't exactly at the top of my autobuy list but still, I usually have an internal radar for books with magical elements in them.

I shall have to do some research.