Again the Magic
2004, European Historical Romance (1830s [Victorian] England)
Avon, $6.99, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 0380811081
Part of a series
Rarely have I seen a heroine torture a hero as much as Aline tortures McKenna in Again the Magic. Don't get me wrong. I loved their story, but I felt sorry for the hero, and had I been McKenna, I'd have thought twice about quickly forgiving Aline. It's a mark of his character that he let her off the hook after the emotional agony he suffers at her hands.
Aline and McKenna are star-crossed lovers. She's the daughter of an earl, and he a servant. This unlikely pair grew up together under her parents' remote and unloving care. Aline and her siblings are left to fend for themselves emotionally and Aline looks for her support from the housekeeper, Mrs. Faircloth, and her friendship with McKenna. Slowly their friendship turns to something deeper, although both know absolutely nothing can come of their love except heartache. However, Aline and McKenna cannot help dabbling with their newfound passion and the inevitable heartbreak ensues. McKenna is sent away from the estate, with Aline's uncaring father exacting a bitter price from Aline for his safety. Aline must convince McKenna never to return to her. She plays her part well.
Twelve years pass, and in the intervening years, fate has not been kind to Aline. A terrible accident left her with physical and mental scars, although neither are readily apparent to the unknowing eye. The intervening years were not emotionally kind to McKenna either, but he's become a very successful American businessman and returns to Stony Cross Park to finally exorcise Aline from his system and exact revenge upon her in the meantime.
Aline is not exactly adverse to McKenna's advances; though she knows he's not there to declare his love for her, she believes it's her last chance to experience passion. She has no plans to spend her future with McKenna, however. While Aline has never doubted her love for him, she doesn't believe he can love her again. Which fits in nicely with McKenna's original plan - to leave Aline heartbroken while he walks away, believing his love was never more than youthful lust.
These two definitely have chemistry and their relationship fairly crackled the pages, but the Big Misunderstanding that Aline continues to foster caused problems for me, as did McKenna's need for revenge. He is obsessed with hurting Aline as much as she hurt him, and overlooks some obvious changes in her. If not for outside comments from a friend, McKenna might never have realized he truly loved Aline. As for Aline, so desperate is she to hide her scars that she is literally willing to send McKenna away forever to protect herself. This seemed unnecessary since McKenna declares his love for her in no uncertain terms once he opens his eyes.
There is an excellent secondary romance between Gideon Shaw, McKenna's employer and friend, and Livia, Aline's younger sister. Instead of overshadowing the main romance as so many secondary romances are wont to do, it provided a rich counterpart to the main story as Gideon and Livia have their own serious issues to work through. Gideon's struggle in particular seemed true to life and well-portrayed.
I wholeheartedly recommend Again the Magic. Incredible chemistry, lots of torment and torture, and strong secondary characters easily outweigh my difficulties with Aline. I've been reading Kleypas for years now and have enjoyed all of her recent books immensely. This one is a great way to while away a few hours; I consider it time very well spent.
-- Liz Zink
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