Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-380-81108-1
Historical Romance, 2004
Like too many of Lisa Kleypas’s recent romance novels, the plot of Again the Magic soon fizzles away when the hero starts “understanding” the heroine, for the want of a better way to phrase it, and the book starts revolving around a tedious premise as to when the heroine will get off Martyr, her best little horsey ever, and get on with the hero. Like too many martyrs, heroine Aline Marsden doesn’t actually have any good reason to play the martyr in the first place, so this annoying tale of Bollywoodian misunderstandings and sentimentalized martyrdom is already on flimsy grounds from the get go.
Aline is the daughter of a nobleman (this nobleman, of course, cares about ranks and social powers so he’s a bad daddy and a lousy nobleman) while her buddy John McKenna is the Stony Cross Park stableboy. When their hormones start surging, Aline and John begin to start their fiddle-diddles… until Aline just has to pretend that she loathes him for his lowly status and sends him away! If it sounds bad here, wait until you read the detailed reason as to why she sends him away. It’s a no-brainer. So cut to today, when John has made a fortune for himself in – where else? – America. He wants revenge. She has been so miserable and blue and hurt all this while, just like the delightful little martyr that she is, that she must experience that One Night of Love to cherish forever and ever before sending him away – forever! Yes, forever! Where’s the dramatic drum beat when I need it?
It doesn’t take long before John abandons his half-baked plans for vengeance a la heartbreak as he falls deep in love again with Aline’s neediness and helplessness. Aline, of course, has loved him forever and ever and ever (imagine another dramatic drum beat here) but she just cannot have John, she really cannot, et cetera. After a while I wonder just how bad John’s rescue complex has to be in order for him to keep hanging on to Aline despite her irritating tendency to hurt him while making a bigger martyr out of herself with the turning of the pages.
A more sane and hence more enjoyable secondary romance takes place between Aline’s sister Livia and John’s employer/best buddy Gideon Shaw, but to my dismay, this one actually becomes more and more ignored as the story progresses. So much for my hoping that there will be some escape from John and Aline’s tedious melodrama of unnecessary sufferings, secrets, and martyr nitwits. Again the Magic is a very readable story as Ms Kleypas is a polished storyteller and her dialogs are cleanly written, but the story on the whole is a very tedious and predictable read that will provide a few hours of forgettable escape and nothing more. It’s sort of like drinking cheap and bad beer when one could be enjoying some vintage champagne, actually.