Jill Barnett is a new author for me. She was recommended by my fellow Yahoo Group readers several years ago and I proceeded to pick up this one and its sequel at the time but quickly got diverted by other books. I think what really turned me off was that the blurb was not very enticing and really didn't give much away:
"She had bewitched the most serious, snobbish, and handsome Duke in England. Joyous MacQuarrie...the pixie-like, green-eyed beauty had appeared from nowhere and fell unashamedly into his arms. And all that his society friends knew of the mysterious lady was that she was Scottish and that her grandmother had been a Locksley. Even her fine bloodline didn't make Joy quite proper enough to be a Duchess, but a proud nobleman like Alec, Duke of Belmore, did as he pleased...and he wanted to marry the beautiful girl who aroused his desire.
But Alec soon discovered he could not do what he pleased with Joy Fiona MacQuarrie. Bubbling with laughter, filled with spirit, she turned stately Belmore Park upside down with merriment and strange occurrences. She might even have gotten Alec to laugh -- and to cherish her -- if it had not been for the truth she hid. Though he turned to fire when he tasted her petal-soft lips, he turned to ice when he discovered that this winsome lady was, in fact, a witch. A witch whose powers of white magic were not always perfectly under control....Too late, Joy knew she was desperately in love and that nothing could stop the course of their destiny -- the scandal threatening to destroy her and the passion that held them both spellbound in a forbidden, irresistible match of two enchanted hearts"
I NEED DETAILS PEOPLE! GIVE ME DETAILS!! I have gotten burned so many times by blurbs that misrepresent the book that when something is that vague I tend to shy away from it. Well, with Portrait of a Lover being a bust I needed another 'crafty' book and so I fell back on my most reliable literary craft... Witchcraft!
Joyous MacQuarrie is one of the worst witches of her clan. She is of mixed heritage so her blood has been thinned by mortal taint. She is very naive and is always dreaming this and dreaming that but most of all she dreams of a happy ever after. When her Aunt, the great MacLean goes on a sabbatical to the Americas, Joy is to travel to Surrey to be with her other side of the family. With her incantation laid out and her bags packed, her bad luck just creeps right in and causes her to burn the paper that her Aunt had written the travel spell. Desperately trying to get to Surrey she gives the spell a try from memory... She falls straight into the lap of the Duke of Bellmore.
Alec has retired to his hunting lodge after his fiancee jilts him the night before they are to wed and runs off with a mere Capt. She tells him that he is stiff and predictable and that she wishes for a love match. Alec was raised with a stick up his dukish arse and is completely humiliated. He does not show it to the world but his pride has taken a swift blow. He was raised in a very strict environment with a family history that goes back 700 years. He was drilled the standards of the Dukes of Belmore since he was in nappies and has lived his life based on those stds. When a Scottish lass falls from the heavens into his arms and the gossips from London run into him while Joy is being tended by a physician, he takes his first step outside the path his ancestors had laid for him and decides that he will prove to everyone that he is not predictable and at the same time regain some of his pride. He asks Joy to marry him!
Joy thinks she is in a dream and she tries to be upfront with Alec and tell him she is not all that she appears to be, or better said she is much more than she appears to be, but he will not listen. He railroads her into marriage and then when he learns the truth he freaks! Well that is when the remolding of this high strung Duke starts!
This book was actually the funniest and yet poignant book I have read in soo long that it has become my favorite of 2008 (as of right now). It also has earned a spot in my keeper shelf (with the other 5 books I hold there).
There were scenes that had my laughing out loud (like when she brought to life all the statues on the roof of the estate and Alec found her) and then other times that I actually had to blink to stop from crying (like when he thought they were going to die in the blizzard). I think I can count in one hand the books that have EVER made me feel that emotionally connected.