Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas
I don’t pretend to know a lot about romance novels. I’ve been reading them since I was old enough to steal them from my Mom’s stash, but I don’t know what makes them good. I don’t know about the latest trends, or what other people may like to read. I just know what I like to read. And I like Lisa Kleypas.
I’ve read almost all her historical romance novels over the years, and several stick out as recommendation worthy. Most notably, for me, is Again the Magic. The story is entertaining, the sex is hot, and it illustrates the points I like most about Kleypas’ writing. Most notably, a look at how the Industrial Revolution changed the class structure in England and female characters who are curious about and willing to take charge of their sexuality.
In Again the Magic, Aline Marsden is the daughter of a powerful earl in the English countryside in the 1830s. She is mostly ignored by her parents, which leaves her plenty of time to run around with handsome stable boy John McKenna. Their childhood friendship grows into something more as they age, but McKenna is wise enough in the ways of the world to know that he realistically has no chance with the daughter of an earl. That doesn’t mean Aline can’t encourage him to explore a more physical side of their relationship. When the earl discovers Aline’s liaison with McKenna, the stable boy is forced off the estate and disappears from our heroine’s life.
McKenna reappears on the estate 12 years later as part of a business delegation from America come to discuss investment opportunities with the new earl, Aline’s brother Marcus. A lot can change in 12 years: McKenna is now a wealthy businessman, Aline has suffered through a mysterious illness that has kept her from marrying, and the new earl is much more socially progressive than their bear of a father was. McKenna’s feelings have changed too. He blames Aline for his forceful removal from home and has a plan for revenge. Aline knows that she can’t marry, because of her hang-up on this whole silly “illness” issue, and misses the hot fooling around she used to get up to with McKenna. She decides to take what she can get and sets out to seduce the stable boy turned businessman. This works well with McKenna’s bitter plans for revenge. Though there isn’t a crazy amount of sex in this book, the sex is hot and not the standard two positions that often get repeated in historical. So, who can blame McKenna for losing sight of his desire for revenge and Aline for forgetting that she was only after some casual sex?
Though the conflict that eventually brings our couple together feels a little forced, a stellar cast of secondary characters make the rest of the story entertaining. Look for a sassy gay friend, a younger sister recovering from a scandal, an alcoholic business partner, a matronly housekeeper, and a young, socially progressive but grumpy earl. These types of secondary characters often appear in Kleypas’ books and are always funny and engaging without being over the top.
Of course, Aline and McKenna find a happy ending but we also get to see a glimpse of the happy endings for a couple secondary characters. And if you still can’t get enough of Stony Cross Park, the estate where all this lovin’ goes down, several of Kleypas’ other books take place there as well. It’s a small, historical romance novel world.
Also, please ignore the terrible cover art. I swear the book is better than that.
Thanks to gertymac for the sexy review! A historical with more than two positions, you say?