Merely Magic
by Patricia Rice, historical/paranormal (2000)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-20049-7

Ninian Malcolm is a witch living in fear in tiny lil' corner of backwater England. "Stay away from Ives men!" is an adage the Malcolm women take by heart, because Great Calamities would befall if an Ives man takes a Malcolm woman for wife or mistress. That's because Ives men tend to deny Malcolm witches their powers and identity, see.

Guess what? Ninian has to fall for Drago Ives. Drago comes over to see the stars and ends up desiring the local witch. Since his family is well known for having too many illegitimate brats, after one night of boinking, Drago insists that they wed if she is with child.

Ninian, however, is terrified when disaster starts hitting the place. Floods, storms, polluted water sources... eh, the Curse is true! Oh no, they are doomed!

Now, I confess I find Merely Magic very readable. I can't stop reading, because the characters are just done right with enough emotional depths. But it is frustrating nonetheless to realize that Drago is the Ives type the Malcolm women should stay away from. He refuses to believe in Ninian's powers or the paranormal aspects of the incidents that befall everyone around them. Fair enough, but he does it in an aggressive style that runs aground Ninian's sometimes pathetic attempt to gain a spine. And Ninian, with all her hand wringing and Let me save the world antics, just cannot stand up to Drago.

Weird really, that a couple with lousy communication can be found in such a well-written, sometimes frustrating, but pretty entertaining tale.

Rating: 79

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