Review: Enchanting the Lady by Kathryne Kennedy

Format read: ebook borrowed from the library
Formats available: Mass market paperback, ebook
Genre: Fantasy romance
Series: Relics of Merlin #1
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: August 1, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Their magic lives within each one of them…
In a Victorian England with a rigid hierarchy of magic, lion shape-shifter Sir Terence Blackwell is at the bottom rung of society. Only Lady Felicity Seymour, who has no magic, no inheritance, and no prospects, may be willing to judge the man strictly on his own merits…

However deeply it may be hidden…
When family pressures push Lady Felicity into a terrible fate, she has only Sir Terence to turn to. As the two outcasts are propelled by curcumstances beyond their control, they are forced to explore the unseen depths beneath society’s facade. And what they discover about each other is more real and more beautiful than they ever could have imagined…

If you enjoy fantasy romance blended well with lots of storybook tropes, you’ll really love Kathryne Kennedy’s Enchanting the Lady.

I counted at least three classics in this mix: Beauty and the Beast, The Ugly Duckling, and a touch of Cinderella. All the situations were created with a ton of magical interference, well, except maybe the rather handsome beast. Throwing in Merlin’s relics as nasty little matchmakers (yes, you read that right) in an alternate England should have been over the top.

Instead, it turned out to be just right.

Terence is literally the beast. He is a were-lion, and the nobility detests him. Shapeshifters are immune to the magic that the nobles prize as their birthright. He can see through the illusions they weave to conceal their weaknesses and their flaws.

Terence is also the chief royal relic-hunter. Relics are evil magic that Merlin embodied in jewels, and they cause nothing but disaster. Soul-stealers, magic-stealers, dream-thieves, will-stealers. The relics and the ones who use them are sickening and disgusting.

Terence’s brother Thomas died hunting the nefarious relics–because the woman he loved was enthralled by a relic-user. Terence now hunts zealously for the scent of relic-magic.

He finds just a whiff of it clinging to Felicity Seymour when she is presented at court. The touch of it is so faint, he is uncertain whether she is the wielder of the relic, or merely if it has been done in her presence. And he must know.

Because Felicity is the most tempting woman he has ever seen. But what puzzles him almost as much as the elusive air of the relic is that no one else notices Felicity. People sit on her. They step on her. And she has inherited no magic, none, in spite of being the daughter of two of the most powerful nobles the court had seen in generations.

But her parents died when she was a child, and her aunt and uncle have raised her in relative obscurity. While her cousin tormented her with sorcerous nightmares.

Terence senses that all is not as it seems. But he can’t figure out whether the problem lies with Felicity herself, or someone around her. All he knows is that he must find the relic at any cost. He convinces himself that the best method for doing so is to court Felicity.

Felicity’s disgrace after proving that she has no magic gives him the perfect excuse to court her, because her family wouldn’t have allowed it otherwise. The difficulty is that his lion-half doesn’t think he needs any excuse whatsoever. And Felicity is genuinely thrilled by his attentions.

The more often Terence spends time with Felicity, the more attention he wants to pay her. And the more often she is attacked–not in the open where it can be seen–but through illusion and dream. There is a relic involved, but he still can’t find it.

How far will he have to go to find the truth? How far will the relic-user go to maintain control of whatever part Felicity plays in the game? Will there be anything left of anyone when all the secrets are told and all the lies are exposed?

Escape Rating B+: Felicity is just a bit dense about her situation, although if she hadn’t been somewhat willfully blind, she’d probably be dead. She does pull a few too many of the obviously stupid heroine moves, like “don’t go into the house of your enemies alone after you know they are your enemies” kind of thing.

The story should fall of its own weight, it really should. But it absolutely doesn’t. Instead, it’s a whole lot of frothy fantasy romantic fun. “The Perils of Felicity” with magic. I couldn’t wait to see how she’d get herself into, and out of, each scrape.

You will guess who the villain is long before the ending, but you’ll be having too much fun to care.

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