Underneath what is undeniably a bland and uninspiring cover lies a wonderfully different and utterly enjoy...more4.5 stars
Don’t judge this book by its cover!
Underneath what is undeniably a bland and uninspiring cover lies a wonderfully different and utterly enjoyable romance. The Enchantment is unlike any romance I have read to date, with its cover to cover adventure, bumbling but wonderful beta hero, historical New Mexico setting and Native American legend. I really enjoyed it.
This is not a book that has garnered much attention here on Goodreads, and that’s such a shame, because it really is worth reading. Were it not for Lady Danielle "The Book Huntress"’s wonderful and appealing review, I would likely never have discovered it myself, and I’m so glad I did (thanks so much, Danielle!).
Dr. Larence Digby’s dream has always been to locate the lost city of Cibola, and he believes he has the information necessary to find the legendary hidden city - he just needs financial backing. When a mutual friend arranges the professor’s introduction at a gathering of possible benefactors, he is not altogether surprised to find the door slammed in his face. Larence has always had trouble understanding society’s rules.
Wall Street financier Emmaline Harris is having a bad night. Forced into hosting this fundraising party and with the butler a no-show, she opens the door to an idiot who proceeds to drench her, ruin her Aubusson rug and break her Meissen vase. If that’s not bad enough, she discovers that the ‘idiot’ she expelled from her home is none other than the guest of honour.
Dr. Digby is determined not to let the misunderstanding affect his presentation to the guests. This is the moment he has been working towards for half his life, and it is essential he make a good impression and gain backing for his dream to finally become a reality. When he faces the room after finishing his presentation to find every single guest asleep, Larence is devastated to realise he’s blown his one chance.
On waking, Emmaline, never one to admit defeat, is determined to turn the disaster into a success and funds Dr. Digby’s expedition herself, handing him a cheque for $10,000. Little does she know that this investment is all she will have to cling to when the stock market crashes and Emmaline loses everything.
With the money already spent, Emmaline has no alternative but to join Larence on his quest in the hopes of discovering the treasure-filled city so that she may rebuild her financial security. With Emma indignantly stuck on the back of a donkey, they begin a perilous journey through the New Mexican desert and these most unlikely partners gradually realise each other’s value.
The Enchantment makes wonderful use of humour and also vividly depicts their travails across the desert, where they encounter danger in the face of isolation, sandstorms and Indians who are determined to protect the mythical, magical Cibola. This is one of the best adventure romances I have had the pleasure of reading.
Emmaline is a prickly and unlikeable character, but the author does a wonderful job of stripping away her defences as she faces unimaginable conditions, and making her a sympathetic character the reader will come to love – something that seems very unlikely at the start of the journey.
Larence starts off as something of a caricature, but the author settles into his characterisation and he becomes wonderful leading man. Although he is the farthest thing from an alpha male you are likely to find, he becomes a hero in his own right and I absolutely adored his character.
The love story is believable and touching, as these two opposites find something in the other that has been missing for all their life. Their HEA seems destined to remain out of reach as both Emma and Larence are unable to compromise on their very different values and ideals, and they will have you on the edge of your seat to the very end.
If you like adventure with your romance, an endearing beta hero, unusual locations, or are just in the mood for something different, you should definitely give The Enchantment a try – it has something for everyone and is a wonderful book. (less)
Joanna Bourne is one very talented author. Her crisp, unfettered style is brilliantly lacking the over-wrought sentimentality that often prevails in h...moreJoanna Bourne is one very talented author. Her crisp, unfettered style is brilliantly lacking the over-wrought sentimentality that often prevails in historical romance, and results in moments of breath-taking poignancy. She is a striking talent bringing a fresh and unique voice to the genre. It’s no surprise that she has rocketed up the list of my favourite authors.
The Forbidden Rose is a prequel to the amazing The Spymaster's Lady and My Lord and Spymaster, and doesn’t disappoint on any level. Bourne again showcases her unique voice, seamlessly providing the reader with a sense of time and place, always ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’, with the dialogue providing the bulk of the flavour.
This is William Doyle’s story, who we originally came to know in The Spymasters Lady, and saw again in My Lord and Spymaster. Although I liked his character in those books, they didn’t quite prepare me for what a wonderful, amazing man he really was. Doyle is not a flashy character; he doesn’t need or want to be centre stage. He is a man of tremendous strength, substance and subtlety with a sly sense of humour – a combination that I found compelling and irresistible.
Luckily, the author gave him a worthy match with Marguerite de Fleurignac – intelligent, practical, daring and self-reliant, she is nonetheless rendered in a very believable way. Bourne writes some of the best couples going around, and although they generally start the book at ‘political’ odds, the progression of their relationship is deftly handled – nothing ever feels forced and the author has no need to rely on overused, clichéd devices.
I cannot possibly write this review without mentioning Adrian. While Doyle was too strong and impressive a character to allow someone else to steal the show, Adrian came as close as possible to that line. I adored Adrian in The Spymaster’s Lady, and was left feeling a little bereft of his sparkling character in My Lord and Spymaster. Oh, but he was brilliant in this one.
I’d never thought to see Adrian’s life before his entrée into Britain’s elite spy agency, and what a loss that would have been. The twelve-year-old Adrian was something to behold. In fact, I intend to re-read these books (something I never do), starting with this one first, just so I can appreciate Adrian in chronological order, along with Doyle and Maggie. (Ignore what Goodreads says about chronological order – this one would come first, not third.)
The Forbidden Rose is the story of two people who know they cannot be together, but neither can they bear to be apart. Neither conforms to society's standards of beauty, but each sees the inner beauty of the other. I could wax lyrical about this series all day. I will refrain, but let me just say this: Read. These. Books. (less)