3 out of 5 disappointed stars
This is the 2nd book in the Leland Sisters series. It reads more like a companion series (I’ve already begun the 3rd book which is a prequel) and that kind of bums me out. The first book really focused on Persy, the bookish twin. I knew this book would focus on Pen (Penelope) the more outgoing one, but sadly, with Persy’s marriage, she’s gone off to her husband’s estate and the sisters are separated. I really hoped this would be a series about sisters working together. Oh well. Also – Persephone and Penelope are lovely names and I would much prefer the author called them by their real names.
Frustrated that her sister Persy had to save her in the affair with Princess Victoria (now Queen) Pen has vowed to re-dedicate herself to her magical studies. To do so, she has followed her former governess, Ally, to her new home with her husband in Ireland. However, Ally is in a family way, and like many magical people, she is having a terrible time with morning sickness that lasts all day. So Pen’s training has been taken over by Ally’s father-in-law, kindly Dr. Carrighar, a retired professor who still teaches young men from his former college in the ways of magic. Like in the last book, we seem to forget about Ally when it’s convenient.
Pen, distracted, is nearly run over by Lady Keating’s carriage. This is a most fortuitous meeting. At first, the Lady in question is cold and haughty, then she gets a good look at Pen and takes an interest. She insists on taking her home. On hearing where Pen is going, she seems doubly interested, as she knows the doctor. Now, unless you are really stupid, you’ve got to assume Lady Keating has sensed something magical in Pen. Lady Keating wants to help introduce Pen into society in Ireland, and invites her to tea. There, Pen meets her children, the sulky and strange Doireann and the dashing and handsome Niall. Doireann is weird. Lady Keating is a formidable woman but she can’t control her daughter. She has a wicked tongue and a changeable nature. Pen is never able to make her out, and it’s clear there is something going on between mother and daughter. I wish Doireann had more to do with the plot, but everything relevant about her character came out after the fact. As for Niall, he makes quite the impression, and that’s just what he’s supposed to do. Lady Keating is plotting, and a huge part of that is Pen falling in love with her son.
I really enjoyed the beginning of this. Up until the ¾ mark, this was on the way to a solid-er 4 star than the first, Bewitching Season. The last one was more like 3.75. This one was way less angsty and the drama was well done. I enjoyed the household of the Carrighars, what with the superstitious staff and the fae living in the wine cellar. Pen is taking lessons with Dr. Carrighars male student’s, and they are not havin’ it. They have this idea that only men are “real” magicworkers. Ha. They are in the land of the fae, Ireland, and they should know better. The Goddess (the personification of Mother, Crone, Maiden, that is three women and yet one) is much stronger there than in England, and Pen is exposed to her magic as well, which I thought was really beautiful. I enjoyed Pen and Niall’s blossoming relationship. There’s lots of parties and balls and hobnobbing, which is always fun in a historical. Besides Lady Keating’s posturing, other women are also scheming for Niall’s attentions. That won’t do, as Lady Keating’s plans require Pen to be enmeshed with her son.This all goes along to make a really enjoyable read. Then things fall apart.
Pen is coming further under Lady Keating’s sway, despite warnings that she is the sort of woman who never does anything for anyone unless it benefits herself. She gives Ally something for her sickness, but all it does is make her sleep all the time. Like I mentioned earlier, Pen just sort of forgets about Ally when she goes off with Lady Keating to her country home. It’s like she just falls off the map. Those things were driving me nuts. Then things between Pen and Niall change. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I really don’t like it when characters are willfully ignorant for the sake of plot. If your plot hinges on a misunderstanding, it needs to be well done. If all you need is a good conversation to clear up your problems, and you make the mistake of having your characters HAVE that conversation, you better have the characters ask the questions the reader thinks would be obvious, OR A DAMN GOOD REASON NOT TO. The misunderstanding was not well handled, is what I’m sayin’. Then, at one point Pen was actually thinking of going along with Lady Keating’s horrible plan. And that was not acceptable. So I have to knock it down a star for pure stupidity. The action at the end, the main danger, the big thing Lady Keating is trying to bring about is pretty good, but sadly, too much of it just didn’t work.