Katherine Scoville, orphaned daughter of a minor baron has lived with her unscrupulous uncle for some years, until now of age her uncle intends to rid himself of her by bringing her to London and getting her wed. Along the way uncle and niece stop at an inn and Katherine is given a room to sleep in, unbeknownst to her that the original occupant of the room had not been informed that he'd been moved and another occupied his room. When Katherine woke up screaming because of Alexander Stanton, Earl of Shelton was half undressed leaning over her bed in the middle of the night, her uncle availed himself of the opportunity at hand and forced the Earl to marry his niece! Katherine, in her innocent dreams had always thought she'd meet the man of her dreams (hopefully a Duke) but settled for the handsome earl instead. What Katherine hadn't bargained for were Alexander's total disgust of what he thought of her as a scheming fortune hunter; or that Magician's were going to be using her in a contest of wills in their own battle of supremacy.
**** Talk about "clueless". Poor little Katherine really didn't have a clue as to what was going on, or how miserable a beast her husband could be. At times, I wasn't even quite sure what was going on, as I tried to grasp the period we were in and the many references to King Arthur's Round Table and Merlin when I felt this was a Regency period story. I finally understood that the period was Regency, and the fantasy aspect, references and characters were paralleled out of Camelot right along with Merlin... but I digress.
Katherine was a total innocent in all of this and was treated dreadfully by Alexander who accused her of all sorts of crimes, including calling her all sorts of names (i.e. lightskirt) which unfortunately, as a well brought up country lass, didn't even know what they meant. The biggest sham was when Alexander approached Katherine and convinced her to go along with a divorce (another term Katherine didn't know the meaning of) and instead become his lover. Yes, although Alexander was forced to wed Katherine, his treatment of her was scandalous, and the poor innocent had no clue as to what he had in mind for her especially with Shelton's mother, Lady Elvira, a magician's apprentice, aiding and abetting some of Alexander's plans with plans of her own.
Bottom Line: As confusing as I was in the beginning of this story, there was no help in not being totally drawn in and thoroughly entertained, especially to see what other things our `clueless' heroine would have to endure before Alexander would realize what a treasure he had unearthed. I can't deny it; I was totally entertained and completely engrossed by this clever and intriguing story.
I enjoyed this latest edition of Ann Marr's work. Regencies can become very cookie cutter; what I like about Ms. M's work is her knack to weave in fantasy aspects (magic), not to mention her strong voice. The writing and plotting technique is all there. She has a fantastic sense of humor-- not taking her characters so seriously although they certainly do. A great read.