Forbidden Magic

Meg Gillingham has a problem. Her parent’s death has left the family penniless and at the mercy of their cruel landlord, who is threatening to turn her and her siblings out of the only home they’ve known unless she hands over her younger sister for his lecherous desires. Squeamishly she resorts to her only legacy for help; a magic statue that grants wishes…..but always requires some kind of payment……….

Meg never expected to receive a marriage proposal from a handsome earl, courtesy of the statue. Having no choice but acceptance, she fears the mismatch in their marriage will be disastrous. As Meg begins being happy with her seductive husband, his dark secrets are revealed and put her life at risk. Should Meg gamble on another kind of magic….love?

Forbidden Magic by Jo Beverleyis a sweet and amusing Regency romance. The characters drew me into the story and were very charming. The dialogue between the hero and heroine was sharp and highly entertaining.

Minerva Gillingham, or Meg as her family calls her, is a practical young woman; she’s served as a governess and is good with her younger siblings. She’s responsible and tries to live her life as a young lady should. When her parents die, she becomes the head of the family but is left no money for their care. She was left a family “heirloom” from her mother’s side of the family, a Sheela Na Gig. The “Sheelagh” is a magic statue which is supposed to grant the wishes of the women in their family born with the ability to wield its magic, a magic that always carries a price. Meg is reluctant to use it for this reason; she fears her parents may have died as a result of using the Sheelagh. She only becomes willing to use it when their landlord, Sir Arthur Jakes, a friend of her fathers, makes it clear that either she will have to pay the past due rent or give him her younger sister Laura, as his mistress. Meg wishes for a solution to her family’s predicament that will keep them together and safe.

Frederic, the Earl of Saxonhurst, or Sax as everyone calls him, is a fantastic hero. He’s good looking, privileged and for the most part a good hearted man. He has a house full of servants who he treats as part of the family, a precocious parrot named Knox and an extremely ugly dog named Brak. He does have some flaws, he flies into a rage and destroys items in his bedroom when he’s crossed and he hates his grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Daingerfield. When he receives a note the day before his 25thbirthday reminding him of his pledge to marry whoever his grandmother chose if he wasn’t already married, he decides that he must marry before the end of the next day. When one of his servants suggests he marry Meg because they are both desperate, he readily agrees and requests her hand in marriage. He’s even willing to take on her siblings and pay off their debts.

The scenes between Meg and Sax are heartwarming and funny. They have great verbal chemistry and sexual tension; they are immediately attracted to each other. Ms. Beverly does an excellent job of keeping both the verbal and sexual tension throughout the story. Being strangers when they marry, Meg and Sax have a lot to learn about each other and about being married. Meg fears Sax will discover how she “wished” him into marriage, while Sax is eager to seduce his wife. Sax is unconventional; he’s eccentric in handling both his house and servants, something that is somewhat disconcerting to Meg at first. When his grandmother makes an unexpected visit and he flies into a rage, Meg wonders if she’s married a madman. When Meg is blackmailed by Sir Arthur and later finds herself in more danger, Sax comes to her rescue and is not above disguising himself as a commoner to save the woman he loves.

The secondary characters are entertaining and contribute nicely to the plot, from Meg’s siblings to Sax’s servants. The villains of the story, Sir Arthur Jakes and the Dowager Duchess help provide some suspenseful moments to the story and keep things interesting. The ending resolves all of the open issues for Meg and Sax and leaves them in a happy place. Ms. Beverley is becoming one of my favorite historical authors to read and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Book Blurb for Forbidden Magic

One of New York Times bestselling author Jo Beverley's best loved Regency novels.

Left penniless after her parent's death, Meg Gillingham is in dire straits. Reluctantly, she turns for help to her only legacy: a magic statue that will grant wishes. Meg never expects the statue to bring her a marriage proposal, especially not from a handsome earl. But when his dark secrets are revealed, putting her life at risk, she dares not believe in another kind of magic: true love...

Night Owl Reviews Feb, 2011 4.00