Diana is a practicing Wiccan and bookshop owner (occult, of course) who, one stormy Halloween afternoon in (of course) Salem Mass., receives a very old and hand-written book from she knows not where and, seemingly on the aftershock of a lightning bolt, stumbles into the 17th century. In England, in the New Forest. She runs into a man – a strange man, who advises her not to dance – and then flees him into the middle of a coven’s gathering. They take her appearance among them, and her physical appearance, in stride, accepting her without question as one of the Fair Folk. A village woman in the coven takes her under her wing, dresses her appropriately, and tries to smooth out some of those rough Faerie edges.
She has no choice but to adapt. Without any idea how she got there, she has no idea how to get home, but she remains hopeful. Escape from this place and time is made ever more desirable as a proto-inquisition comes to town, led by John Stearne and Matthew Hopkins – and accompanied by the man Diana met in the woods. He just might really be one of the Fair Folk…
One of my initial reactions: if “the Goddess” and Wicca were replaced by “God” and Christianity this would be a very heavy-handed Christian novel. Another initial reaction: oh, God(dess), the main character is a gorgeous leggy blonde, and we’re told this immediately in no uncertain terms. Spare me. This is, at least, made slightly and in a way useful to the plot, as opposed to just to the Hero. Still, it doesn’t predispose me to like her.
This was an odd one. It is labeled on the spine as a romance, and is in fact one of a clump of romances Rosemary Edghill wrote – and, oh, yes, there is … er, romance. Explicit … romance. I have read at least a couple of RE’s Regencies, and I don’t remember this … level of detail in those books, so I was surprised to find this conforming to the Romance Template™ in that respect. In other respects, it is completely and utterly unlike any romance novel I’ve ever dipped into … sadly, not necessarily in a good way. There are traces of Diana Gabaldon, of course – travel back in time and fall in love. There are elements of today’s PNR (ParaNormal Romance): fall in love with someone not human but still sexy as all heck. But this … this is just odd. This hero is damaged – far beyond the damage romance writers love to heap on their characters – and that is on top of his not being human, quite – and not in the usual he-has-an-accent-and-odd-colored-eyes-but-isn’t-he-gorgeous way. It’s … oh, I don’t know, it’s odd.
And – I’ll try to do this without spoilers – the decision at the end is made far too quickly and, seemingly, easily, without alternatives even being discussed. Or possibly without a way to discuss alternatives sensibly. Also – and these are spoilers, if negative ones – there are mysteries left wide open: the messenger who delivered that book to the shop is in at least one place equated with Our Hero, but -? Don’t know who he was or why. Diana never had a clue about where the book came from, so neither does the reader. How and why was Diana whipped back in time, and why to England and not Salem, and is another such trip possible? Don’t know. Was there supposed to be a sequel? Don’t know. It’s all left mysterious. Annoyingly, vaguely, dea-ex-machina-ishly mysterious. Not the best of Edghill’s work.