The Bargain

The Bartered Bride

The Burning Point

Captured Hearts

The China Bride

One Perfect Rose

The Rake

Shattered Rainbows

The Spiral Path

Twist of Fate

The Wild Child

A Kiss of Fate by Mary Jo Putney
(Ballantine, $23.95, PG-13) ISBN 0-345-44916-9
Gwyneth Owens is the daughter of a Guardian although she believes she has no special powers of her own. Guardians are human, but individuals who are gifted with magical powers. Guardians use their power to protect humankind. After her fatherís death, Gwyneth married an elderly English peer. It was a marriage of companionship not passion, but now Gwynne is widowed and residing with the elderly Lady Bethany Fox, a powerful sorceress.

Duncan Macrae, Lord Ballister, the laird of a Scottish clan, is a Guardian. He is a weather mage, that is, he can shape and even control the weather. On a trip to England he attends a gathering at Lady Bethanyís and is immediately smitten by Gwynne. She also feels a strong attraction between them and has the sense that he is her destiny.

Duncan sets out on a campaign to win Gynne and seems to be well on the way to accomplishing his goal. Gwynne, however, rejects him after they kiss. His kiss brought her immediate, horrible images of battle and death.

The Guardian council asks that she reconsider her decision and marry Duncan. There are fears that the charismatic Charles Stuart will start raising the Scottish clans against the Hanoverian English king and civil war will ensue. If Gwynne is Duncanís wife, she may be able to influence events.

It is on their wedding trip to Scotland that Gwynne is first confronted with the powerful forces within her and without that will cause tension between her and Duncan. She cannot dispel the strong feeling that she will betray him.

This is the first in the authorís Guardian series. The supernatural elements increase in importance as the novel progresses. It simplifies things to be able to use a spell to deal with the small inconveniences of life. Want to hide something? Just cast a do-not-see spell. Sometimes it seems to come too easily, that the hero and heroine should be relying on their own abilities not magic.

The strongest aspect of A Kiss of Fate is the romance between Gwynne and Duncan. Their instant attraction is very believable, and their courtship is sweet. The conflict that creates tension between them is caused by outside political forces not by stupid misunderstandings. These two love each other and act like it.

A Kiss of Fate is a romance thatís easy to recommend. The narrative flows smoothly. This is one of those books that picks you up and carries you along effortlessly until the final page. For those who are not familiar with mid-eighteenth century English and Scottish history, sufficient necessary background is provided, but the history lesson doesnít overwhelm the romance and the relationship between Gwynne and Duncan.

Fans of Diana Gabaldonís Outlander books may wish to check out A Kiss of Fate which is set in the same time period. This book will also appeal to those who enjoy fantasy romance. Those who like their fiction a little more grounded in reality are likely to enjoy this book just because it features a good story and appealing characters. Whatever the reason, A Kiss of Fate is likely to appeal to a wide variety of romance readers.

--Lesley Dunlap

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