The Magic Knot
by Helen Scott Taylor, paranormal (2009)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-505-52796-7

I began reading The Magic Knot with no expectation whatsoever, so to my most pleasant delight, this book turns out to be an unexpectedly good read. I have to warn you guys though - nothing on the cover suggests this, but there are some mild homoerotic scenes between the guys as well as a love scene that comes this close to being a threesome in this story. There is nothing here that will shock you if you are used to reading more edgy erotic romances published by electronic publishers - in fact, those scenes may disappoint you because the pay-off is poor. But if you are not used to such elements, these scenes may catch you off-guard.

Rosenwyn Tremain believes that she is nothing more than an accountant when she shows up at the Elephant's Nest Public House in Cornwall. She is to take a look at the books before she decides whether she should notify her employer to proceed with follow-up actions. The owner, Michael O'Connor, you see, hadn't been paying his debts to the bank for a few months now. However, she soon realizes that not only are Michael and his twin brother Niall not exactly humans, she also has a hitherto undiscovered legacy related to those two men as well as the father in Cornwall that she has come to locate. While Michael and Niall are Tuatha Dé Danaan fairies, she has pisky blood in her. Not only that, a vampire nightstalker named Nightshade is also showing interest in her. All of a sudden, she's hot property among the fairies. What is going on here and what exactly is this role she is being asked to carry out? And why is she so darned attracted to Niall, of all people?

Rose is a fine heroine, by the way. She's no delicate lily. I was initially worried when she showed up in the story claiming to be proper and ugly, because those heroines pretty much almost always turned out to be annoying pests. Rose, however, surprises me by exhibiting some steel in her spine as well as a healthy sense of confidence when it comes to taking care of herself and getting things done for the greater good. This story has some familiar trappings if you have read "sexy" fae stories like those written by Laurell K Hamilton, but even when Rose's private part becomes hot commodity, I always feel that Rose is still in control to some acceptable degree of the situation.

The pacing is great, the build-up is very good after the first slow and awkward few chapters, and I find myself at the edge of my seat as I keep turning the pages. I'm learning about the world of these fairy folks along with Rose, and I find the whole setting and the characters that inhabit that world most fascinating.

Okay, except Niall. Now there is one stereotypical boring emo weenie king who spends pretty much most of his time in this story sulking and running away from his problems. Unfortunately, the author decides that she needs to have Rose bound to Niall by hook or by crook, so early in the story, Rose accidentally touched Niall's Magic Knot, the fancy name for a set of magical stones possessed by the fairy folks, which means she's bound to Niall. How nice.

Reading this story, I think it is high time we call for a ban of such stupid contrivances like magic bonds and destined mating nonsense because Niall is a horrible hero here. I still feel Rose is better off paired with Nightshade, because Nightshade isn't only an attractive kind of emo tormented but wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, he is also open and honest in his own way to Rose. Niall just hogs things to himself and keeps Rose in the dark because he's too busy being a boring and tedious weenie king.

I close this book disappointed that this story doesn't pair Rose with Nightshade, or at the very least, ends with a ménage à trois where at least Nightshade gets to be with Rose, because Niall is simply not worthy to kiss the tips of my boots, much less run his paws all over Rose's body.

Apart from the disappointing hero and the slow first few chapters, however, The Magic Knot is an unexpectedly great read with some enjoyable scenes of eroticism especially later in the story. I really want to give Ms Taylor's debut romance novel a keeper grade, but hey, if she wants to blame someone for missing the grade by a few points, she can blame Niall. Seriously, that guy is so boring compared to Michael and Nightshade, I can only wonder what Ms Taylor sees in that weenie king.

Rating: 88

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