|Lynn Collum, Debbie Raleigh & Jeanne Savery: A Bewitching Season|
Zebra (Paperback), ISBN 0-8217-7487-5
The three novellas in A Bewitching Season take three young witches -- some reluctant and some eager to embrace their powers -- and thrust them into the lunacy of a Season in Regency London.
"The Bewitched Baron" by Lynn Collum features Naomi Clayton, a vicar's daughter who moves in with her two aunts after her father's death. Upon arriving, Naomi learns that the women in the family practice witchcraft -- a practice extending back decades. Naomi begins learning the skills, but her education gets put on hold when she goes to London to accompany a friend for the Season. Her aunts admonish her to seek a wizard for a husband, but Naomi finds herself entranced by her friend's older brother, Wyndom Long, Baron Newlyn. She fears that his devotion to science will be incompatible with her magical abilities, but he seems drawn to her as well.
In Debbie Raleigh's "The Bewitchment of Lord Dalford," Annie Winsom casts a little spell on her good friend Lord Dalford. He always seems to be tripping over his own feet or knocking something off the table, so she gives him a magical little push so his actions won't cast a pall over her reputation during her Season. But the spell seems to backfire when Lord Dalford turns out to be the most sought-after bachelor in London, sparking Annie's jealousy. At the same time, Lord Dalford hides a secret of his own, one deliberately kept from Annie for a number of years.
Jeanne Savery pens "The Reluctant Witch." Despite her best efforts to hide her abilities, Lady Samantha Forsythe's friend Mary knows Samantha can make magic. Mary wants Samantha to create a love potion to secure the affections Lord Dalreach -- a Forsythe neighbor who Samantha managed to anger each of the two times they met. After much pleading and cajoling, Samantha agrees to make the potion, even though Sam knows how tricky the potions can be and how they tend to cause mischief -- not to mention the fact that one cup of punch looks very much like another…
The biggest obstacle in novellas and short stories seems to be length. With 100 pages or less for each story, the romantic spark often seems forced. That isn't the case with these stories, though the secondary characters could've used more fleshing out. All in all, a decent read, with some fairly realistic witchcraft background.
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