by Victoria Lamb
Harlequin Teen, $9.99 trade paper, ISBN-10 0373210973, September 2013
Meg Lytton has always known she is different—that she bears a dark and powerful gift. But in 1554 England, in service at Woodstock Palace to the banished Tudor princess Elizabeth, it has never been more dangerous to practice witchcraft. Meg knows she must guard her secret carefully from the many suspicious eyes watching over the princess and her companions. One wrong move could mean her life, and the life of Elizabeth, rightful heir to the English throne.
With witchfinder Marcus Dent determined to have Meg’s hand in marriage, and Meg’s own family conspiring against the English queen, there isn’t a single person Meg can trust. Certainly not the enigmatic young Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, despite her undeniable feelings. But when all the world turns against her, Meg must open her heart to a dangerous choice.
From the outside, this book appears to have it all: a beautiful cover, a catchy title, appearances from famous and popular historical persons, intrigue with an eye to rebellion, an illicit romance. A medieval witch falling for a priest? Forbidden love doesn’t get much more forbidden. Did you hear that, Thornbirds? This author sees you your priestly affair and raises you one witch.
Unfortunately, the story reaches none of its potential. Characters, setting, and system of magic remain undeveloped. The romance may be forbidden, but it’s also flat and unconvincing. Will teens check it out? Probably, based on how good it looks on paper, and I imagine it will have crossover appeal for adult fans of historical romance. Whether readers will find it satisfactory, however, is another matter entirely.
To buy or not to buy: Strictly an additional purchase.
Recommend to: Readers who devour all historical romance without prejudice.