Island Magic


Under Your Spell

Illusions of Love
by Marcia King-Gamble
(Arabesque/BET, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-104-9
Creed Bennett has been a master illusionist for most of his life. As a child, he grew up as the son of Mill Creek, Pennsylvania’s town drunk. His father abdicated his responsibility so Creed quietly took on the role as “both son and surrogate husband to his abused mother.” In high school, he received a respite from his unhappy childhood by parlaying his personality and good looks into an act as the popular and jovial class clown.

As a child, Creed had seen David Copperfield on television and was impressed by his work. As a college theater major, he met an illusionist during a work-study assignment and set his career path. “Illusions help you escape the realities of life,” he said. Creed mastered his craft, eclipsed Copperfield’s work, and has traveled and performed throughout the world as “The Mighty Creed.”

Creed has returned to his hometown and the impressive house he built five years ago. He is performing in a local benefit for sickle cell anemia and breast cancer research. Creed Bennett is the town’s most famous citizen and most of Mill Creek has come out to see him.

Journalist Skyla “Skye” Walker is among them -- for her own reasons. There is speculation that “The Mighty Creed” has been practicing a little more than sleight of hand. Five women with a Creed connection have disappeared. The body of one has been found with a red scarf, like the ones Creed uses in his act, around her neck. One of the missing women is Skyla’s first cousin, Kristina Brown. She is determined to find out what happened to her.

Skye is an illusionist in her own right. As a teenager, she was not part of Mill Creek’s in-crowd. Schoolmates called her “Luke” after the “Star Wars” character. Skye Walker was a chubby, pimply faced girl with braces. She has since lost her “baby fat” and has a face and figure that have those who once ignored her, vying for her attention. A communications and language major in college, Skye has carved out a successful journalism career that includes a stint with “Le Monde” in Paris. It is proof that you can go home again.

Skye and Creed have a history, of sorts. She has never forgiven him for standing her up the night of the junior prom. For his part, Creed cannot forget a bad relationship with a journalist who used him to get a story. But Skye brings her journalistic objectivity to her assignment and skillfully interviews Creed and covers his performance. They come together as antagonists who strongly attracted to each other.

Illusions of Love is a very well done romance. Marcia King-Gamble has done a good job of plotting the natural progression of their relationship. The wariness amid the attraction of her main characters is evident and provides strong sexual tension between them. Secondary characters -- particularly Creed's father, Jed and Skye’s dog, Hogan, add dimension.

And, while all the elements certainly are there, the suspense in Illusions of Love is not as strong as the romance. There are dropped clues and early revelations. In addition, the transitions between scenes are often rough and a couple resolutions don't quite ring true. However, Illusions of Love marks continuing forward phase in Marcia King-Gamble's career development as a romantic suspense writer.

--Gwendolyn Osborne

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