Reviewed by Rachel Mann

I was excited to receive the book Merely Magic by Patricia Rice and looked forward to seeing how magical elements were interwoven into a historic romance. When I started the book, I was hoping for a full-fledged descent into magic and mystery, an unabashed integration of magical elements into traditional romance. Instead, I found the book to be more of a straightforward romance with magic included just occasionally. Merely Magic got off to a slow start but picked up once the hero and heroine, Drogo and Ninian, were forced into a household together and into each other’s arms.

I found the strongest parts of the book were the love scenes between Ninian and Drogo; when they became separated due to external conflicts, the story wasn’t as interesting as when they were together. In its middle section, Merely Magic got a little caught up in the introduction of secondary characters and backstory about the characters’ families. Ninian and Drogo’s ancestors, the Malcolms and the Ives, have a contentious history together, which makes for interesting context, but at times it distracted me from the main plot.

Ultimately, I ended up wishing there had been even more magic in the book, and magic on a grander scale. Ninian is a witch/healer but her magic is always based somewhat in the realm of possibility. Her magic is used for good: for healing people and for healing plants. She helps birth babies and can sense when people have good and bad auras. I think it would have been exciting if her magic had been even more imaginative and less realistic, but perhaps that would have pushed the book too far into the fantasy genre.

Rating: 2/5

Rachel, who has a Ph.D. in English, is a freelance writer/editor and a voracious reader. You can talk to her about books at http://twitter.com/writehandmann.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Casablanca. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.