AGAIN THE MAGIC – Lisa Kleypas
Hampshire, England, 1832 and 1844
The Earl and Countess of Westcliff were not the most doting of parents; in fact, the best you could say of them is that they rarely interfered in their children's lives. Most of the loving care Marcus, Aline, and Olivia received was from the housekeeper. Not that the children were particularly unhappy, though Livia was known to be the result of a liaison of her mother's. Marcus was at school, and Aline ran freely on the estate with her best friend McKenna, when he wasn't at work in the stables. The two were inseparable, but the inevitable day came when their friendship changed to love and desire. Lady Aline was still technically an innocent when the earl was made aware of the danger. She bargained with her father not to punish McKenna if she sent him away herself, and she did so in the cruelest way to be sure he never came back.
It's now twelve years later; their mother is still irrelevant to their lives, and the siblings have become a loving family who reside together at Stony Cross Park. Marcus is the earl; Livia still mourns the death of her fiancé, and Aline acts as hostess for her brother's many house parties. When a group of Americans -- led by Gideon Shaw, a member of New York's equivalent of aristocracy -- arrives for a shooting party, Aline receives a shock. The tallest, most commanding presence among them is none other than McKenna -- her McKenna.
No one ever calls McKenna John , though he does indeed possess that Christian name. He came to work at Stony Cross Park as an unwanted bastard of eight; this time he has come for revenge against the one who trampled his heart and blackened his soul. His surprise at finding Aline unwed is only the first of several he'll encounter, but not any time soon, for Aline has secrets she doesn't want him to learn.
AGAIN THE MAGIC is lushly sensuous, deeply moving, and rich in character and plot development. And while you may keep wishing Aline would just sit down and explain everything to McKenna, her reasons for not doing so work for her. She and McKenna are such passionate individuals that their faulty choices are understandable in the context of their lives. Besides, while you await the resolution of their differences, there is enough else going on to keep you turning the pages. Though Aline and McKenna are the main protagonists, Livia and Gideon enact a touching subplot of their own. Other personages add to the story and gain our empathy, most notably the lonely Marcus and Aline's good friend Adam, Lord Sandridge.
For another excellent read from an author you can count on, I recommend AGAIN THE MAGIC.