Another Chance to Dream

Dreams of Stardust

From This Moment On

The More I See You

Opposites Attract

Star of the Morning

This Is All I Ask

The Very Thought of You

 
A Tapestry of Spells
by Lynn Kurland
(Berkley Sensation, $15, G)† ISBN 978-90-425-23213-2
***
First off, let me tell you what the publisher wonít: A Tapestry of Spells is the first in a new trilogy, and readers are going to have to pony up another thirty dollars Ė or two booksí worth - to find out how it ends.† If Iíd known that going in, I might have thought twice.† Instead, I closed the book fairly ticked off.

Sarah of Doire makes her way in life providing spells to those who can pay her.† Daughter of a witch, Sarah is alone in the world except for her nefarious brother, Daniel, who is a nasty piece of work.† Sarah doles out bits of her motherís leftover magic and looks forward to the day Ė soon, she hopes Ė when she can gather her carefully-hoarded money, take her horse, and leave the grim county of Shettlestoune.† One more paying customer and sheíll have enough.

Daniel is dabbling in dark magic and declares his intent to destroy the world.† Heís a loudmouth braggart and hugely overestimates his power, but Sarah is afraid heís stumbled into some dark magic far beyond his control and could do real harm unless heís thwarted.† Daniel steals Sarahís hidden funds, transforms her beloved horse into a dog with hooves, and disappears.† Sarah decides to seek help in stopping him, and this leads her to a hermit named Ruith, a mage who wonít use his power.

He has good reason.† Ruith watched his family be destroyed when his father misused his powers and opened a dark portal, allowing evil to enter the world.† Ruith escaped with his life and for the past twenty years has hidden himself away from people, vowing never to use his own powers again.† When Sarah arrives on his doorstep, he at first refuses to help her, than finds himself reluctantly drawn into her predicament.† If Daniel is to be stopped, first they have to find him.

Sarah and Ruith set out on a journey through the kingdom of Neroche, adding more magic-wielding folks to their entourage as they travel.† Little do they know that a bigger danger is following them: a mage named Urchaid who has the power to suck the magic from others.† Along the way, Sarah and Ruith are undeniably attracted to one another.† Yet Sarah has a secret - she possesses no magic of her own.† This makes her vulnerable to anyone who discovers it, as magic-wielders are widespread.† Since her mother was a witch, nobody suspects.

As a fantasy story, A Tapestry of Spells has a lot going for it.† Even though I didnít read the first trilogy set in this world, I had no trouble following the plot or the magical elements.† Ruith is intriguing, and his portrayal as a man drawn into a battle against his will because his honor wonít allow him to do otherwise really resonates.† Sarah is intelligent and mature, making her story a pleasure to read. One just knows that these two will be a great match.

And thatís the frustration.† Lynn Kurland has written some of the finest historical romance of recent years, and her books are on many a keeper shelf.† So why would she leave out that which she does best Ė build a strong, believable love story between two people who are obviously perfect for one another?† Forget heat, this story doesnít even make it to warm.† The G rating is no accident.† Thereís little chemistry and virtually no physicality between Sarah and Ruith, intriguing characters though they may be.† The most the author can work up is to have them wonder about each other a bit and secretly admire each otherís looks.† It just doesnít cut it.† Itís apparent that the next two books will take their relationship further, but Iím betting that many readers wonít bother to come back.† Certainly at $14.99 apiece, Iíd be getting them from the library.

If you enjoy fantasy, and arenít looking for a strong romance to go with it, have a look at A Tapestry of Spells.† If fantasy romance is more to your taste, be warned that youíll only be partially satisfied.

--Cathy Sova


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