Throughthetrees's Reviews > Charmed & Enchanted

Charmed & Enchanted by Nora Roberts
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May 17, 12

bookshelves: romance, harlequin, magic
Read from March 03 to May 09, 2012

I've read a lot of Nora Roberts over the years. I think she was the author of my first romance novel. You know what you get when you read a Nora Roberts book; no real surprises, same destination it's just the journey that varies. That can be said for this double edition of the Donovan Saga. This is really more of a guilty pleasure than any kind of "advanced reading". I read so much that romances really just fill the time and are entertaining. This book was just that: entertainment.

"Charmed" is the story of Ana and Boone. Ana Donovan comes from a long lineage of very powerful witches. Yeah, that's right. She's a witch. She and all of her cousins (see other Donovan novels) practice witchcraft in varying ways. Ana is an empath. She is sensitive to other's feelings, their aches and pains, and can link psychically to their minds. She works as an herbalist making lotions and potions for her cousin's shop, Wicca, and specialized treatments for her clients. She lives alone and has resigned herself to helping others without getting close or letting them know her true self. This changes when her new neighbors move in next door. Boone Sawyer, father of spunky 6 year old Jessie, has moved to escape the pressures of his extended family and give him and his daughter a fresh start. After Boone's wife passed away four years ago, pressures to find "a mother for his child" were becoming increasingly stressful after constant badgering from his mother and mother-in-law. Boone falls for the lovely lady next door, who picks flowers in the moonlight, takes long walks on the beach and is enamored with his daughter. Yet, Ana is reluctant to give over her heart and afraid to reveal her true heritage having been burned before. Boone, a moderately successful children's book author, seems to have walked right into his own fairytale and found that the witch isn't so wicked.

Seeing as I've read so many of Robert's books, this one tilted me the wrong way. It's no surprise at the end that the main characters are going to be together. That's kind of the mandate of romance novels. What I take issue with is the common belief of these types of novels that all women want is to get married and have kids. I'm not sure when this particular female fantasy died for me, I just know that it did. And I tire of reading the epilogues of these kinds of books where they end up married and have like 10 children. I get it. It's one of those things that is to be assumed all women want. Maybe, in life. But reading allows a type of fantasy free from "normal" life. Especially in a novel about witches. Let's be honest. Are you reading a Nora Robert's novel for the happily ever after ending? No. You aren't. You're reading it for the crazy love-fest that's going to be happening once the main characters stop fighting and realize how bad they want each other. So why the tagged on ending where everyone is married and pregnant? I'm so tired of reading this ending that it makes me roll my eyes and gag with all the sappy sweetness. Maybe I should stop reading the epilogues. Clearly I'm over them.

Another issue with Robert's work is the archetypal female lead who is controlled by her main man. Often during a fight, the woman gets lifted up and tossed over the man's shoulder as he drags her away to a place where she will be forced to listen to him. While the woman doesn't always take this graciously, I think this is one of the most offensive things a man can do to them. Picking someone up and carrying them away by force is degrading, praying on the "weak-willed" female who needs a man to set her straight. Sorry, but if someone lifted me up and whisked me away so that I would stop screaming at them, they are likely to get a booted kick right to the man parts. As wonderfully romantic as it seems to be "swept off your feet", this is directly the opposite - being controlled by man used to getting his way.

As long as we are complaining, why is every female lead a virgin? Ok, I get it. Ana was burned by her former boyfriend who spurned her after she told him she was a witch. They didn't make it to the fun part. Is it fear of labeling a woman as a slut because she's slept with someone else and not the very handsome stranger that happens to appear and romance her? Boone slept with other women. Several, actually! He admits to having lots of "female companions" after his wife died. So, that's ok then? But Ana having one boyfriend isn't? Let's ditch this sorry-story and get real. Why label every female as "virgin"? Just once I'd like to read a story about a woman who isn't innocent as white fallen snow to her rough-and-tumble male counterpart. That's all I'm asking.

If you've put up this far with my ranting, you'd probably assume that I didn't like this novel. On the contrary! Aside from the niggling issues of most romance novels, this story was pretty enjoyable. Ana's magical practices are nifty and homegrown. She's an avid gardener and the whole "naturalist" witch appealed to me. Making poultices, potions, lotions, seemed like a reasonable way to make a living, especially in our organic-crazed world. And unlike some novels (ahem, "Among Others" by Jo Walton), Ana actually did magic. Lots of it too. Not just weaving spells and crafting thunderstorms, but healing and comforting magic. As with most of Robert's "saga" novels, the whole family comes together once or twice and jumbles the story into a mash of names and inside references. Robert's mostly does a good job of keeping everyone straight and giving a first time reader a background story if they missed the first, or even second, installment. I felt a little lost when the extended family showed up, but Robert's clearly knows her stuff and didn't make it about them. This was Ana's story in the Donovan history books. In all, "Charmed" was an enjoyable read. It also spurred some research on the productive Mrs. Roberts, and I realized that, though Goodreads doesn't reflect it, I've read a boat-load of her books. Next up ...

"Enchanted"

It took me a long time to get through this book and I'm not sure why. Time and lack of interest I suppose. Rowan Murray is tired of having her life planned for her by her well-meaning but safe parents, and her well-meaning but boring boyfriend. In desperation to escape, she flees to a friend's cottage in Oregon to find herself again and get some space. There she can relax, spend her days enjoying herself and renew long-buried passions like drawing while in the wilderness. Rowan finds comfort in a wandering lone wolf who appears skulking in the woods around her cottage. She doesn't fear him and even lets him in during lonely nights for company. Then there is her neighbor on the other side of the forest, Liam Donovan. Difficult, stubborn and unfriendly, Liam just wants to be left alone for the most part. Nursing his own life-changing decision, Liam has left his family to make up his mind about his heritage and accepting his birthright. He didn't want to get involved with Rowan, but seeing as she is around and willing, he might make an exception about sleeping with her. It's not until her own heritage becomes apparent that Liam may have fallen in love with the perfect girl.

To be honest, "Enchanted" was a bit hokey. Whereas "Charmed" was cute and vaguely Wiccan, "Enchanted" is just bordering on silly. White robes and glass orbs, glowing white lights and shape-shifting spirit animals, it sort of read something like one of those knick-knack stores that sells incense and wizard figurines. The magic was unimpressive and the psychic "mind-sex" felt sort of wrong, not thrilling. Liam has so many talents in magic that it was almost irritating how many things he could just DO without trying. His attitude fell short of being attractive either, and I found myself wondering why Rowan even liked the guy.

Rowan's character was fine, if a little predictable. I know we aren't inventing the wheel here, but her only character flaw is liking a jerk. While Liam was encouraging of her talents, he was also using her most of the book to his own ends. The best part of the book is when Rowan tells him off and stands up for herself. Mostly she spends her time eating cookies for breakfast and taking long trips into the woods.

I was glad to be finished this one. Don't go looking for anything special. Some of the sex scenes are intense, but otherwise, there are better Harlequins than this one.
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