Bewitched

Sandra Schwab
2008, Paranormal Historical (1820s England)
LoveSpell, $6.99, 321 pages, Amazon ASIN 0505527235

Grade: D
Sensuality: Warm

Sandra Schwab has received two B's here at AAR, and the blurb to Bewitched spoke of a klutzy witch having a London Season and falling in love with a rake. It sounded like fun, but all the fun to be had was contained within the three page prologue. It went downhill from there.

Amelia Bourne is an orphaned witch who likes to experiment. When her latest efforts resulted in the family home being turned cobalt blue and sprouting chicken legs, her uncle put a spell on her to suppress her magic. She is sent off to London in the care of a friend whose daughter is also having a Season, in order to find a husband and settle down. Amy is stunningly beautiful and has no dearth of suitors. She also meets Sebastian Stapleton, brother to an earl, with whom she shares a mutual dislike. But suddenly, they find themselves violently in love, engaged, and ensconced in his family's country estate.

An old enemy of Sebastian's family has cast a love spell on Amy and Sebastian, hoping through her to wreak havoc on the estate, the family, and the earl himself. However, most of the action is held off until the end, where things get very bizarre and deadly and creepy. But until then, all is sweetness and light, which, frankly, was mind-numbingly boring.

There is a 120 page section, right in the middle of the book, in which Amy and Sebastian are sickeningly, treacly, blissfully in love. They muse on their great love and the beauty of the other, take long walks together and sneak kisses in the garden, saying profound things like, "Oh, you!" to each other. It made me fairly nauseous. During this section, just for a change of pace, we are treated to a chapter where Amy gets a tour of the house, with all the history, architecture and furnishings of each room described in detail, and another chapter where Amy sits and reads a book of strange little fairy tales. In fact, Amy reads these stories throughout the book and I came to wince every time she had a servant fetch the book out of her room. These stories were completely unconnected in any way to the action of the novel and just seemed like a time and space waster to me.

Then there's the language. At times it is very modern in tone and I felt like Schwab was channeling Chandler Bing when Sebastian says things like, "I am so going to break your heart." And then there's Sebastian's favorite expletive: "heck." Heck?! This seemed so out of place that I had to look it up. First recorded use: 1865. But more than the historical inaccuracy is that this is so not how an English nobleman, a rakish man about town, would choose to express himself when perturbed.

Bewitched was just a disappointment all the way around, and after the first few chapters became a chore to read and get through. All in all, a major disappointment.

-- Cheryl Sneed

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