Wizard's Daughter

Catherine Coulter
2008, European Historical Romance (Regency England)
Jove, $7.99, 368 pages, Amazon ASIN 0515143944
Part of a series

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Warm

I picked up Wizard's Daughter to read as I have always been partial to Catherine Coulter's Sherbrooke family series and was happy to see so many familiar faces well used in the outset of this book. But some of Coulter's old magic is definitely missing in this one.

At the age of eight, Rosalind de La Fontaine was discovered in a London alley, nearly beaten to death. Ryder Sherbrooke (The Hellion Bride) found her and took her to the orphanage he sponsors - she was raised to adulthood as his ward. Rosalind chose her own name, as she had no memory of who she was or where she came from, although she could speak excellent English and Italian, so it was believed she came from an upper class home. Ryder decided not to look for her family, as he was afraid it would tempt the villains who tried to kill Rosalind into another attempt on her life.

As the story opens, Rosalind is in London for her first season, where she meets Nicholas Vail, Earl of Mountjoy. Nicholas was drawn to meet Rosalind by a series of dreams and a family legend. He recognizes Rosalind immediately as the girl of his dreams and knows that his family's debt is to protect her. Rosalind is drawn to Nicholas and feels as if she has always known him. After their first meeting, magical things begin to happen that draw Nicholas, Rosalind and the Sherbrookes into a deepening mystery.

Rosalind is a very likable and bright heroine; her dialogue with Nicholas and her "brother" Grayson Sherbrooke sparkles. I also believed her falling so quickly in love with Nicholas, who is all one could ask for in a hero: hunky looks, intelligence, and a mysterious past with enough angst to be interesting. He is quickly aware that Rosalind's intelligence matches his own and is not challenged by that fact. Nicholas is a man of mystery whose whereabouts since the age of 12 (when his father disowned him) are cause for speculation by the ton and his father's second family, who hate him. It is rumored that he is broke and shopping for an heiress, but the reader senses from the beginning that Nicholas is too adept a character not to have prospered in any environment.

Nicholas and Rosalind are led to a mysterious volume that is written in code that neither Nicholas nor Grayson can decipher, but which Rosalind easily reads. As Rosalind and Nicholas attempt to get to the heart of the mystery, they quickly fall in love and their magical adventure alternates with their "real" world problems of family and friends. Nicholas and Rosalind's dawning awareness and shock that he is a Wizard and she is a Witch is well done and, as I said, I completely bought their immediate love for each other.

This book initially read as a B+ for its wonderful couple and the great use of the Sherbrooke family - I still love Douglas and Alexandra and enjoyed even a glimpse of them. But the book bogs down from an excess of magic. Page after page of boring, awkwardly written, and completely uninteresting and undecipherable magic poetry yanked me from the story, and brought the grade way down. I finally solved the problem by just skipping all of the magic gobbledygook. Another disappointmentwas the final showdown in the Wizard's territory, the resolution too easily resolved after the tremendous build up it was given throughout the book.

Those who love the Sherbrookes, as I do, may enjoy the relationships in Wizard's Daughter, but I suspect skimming will be a necessity for those undecipherable and dull magical poetry pages. Personally this book just made me want to reread The Sherbrooke Bride, where the whole series began.

-- Linda Hurst

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