The Bewitched Baron: Lynn Collum
Naomi Clayton goes to live with her two maiden aunts after her father, the vicar, dies, and there she learns that all the women in her family are witches – herself included! But she is woefully behindhand in her training. Why, she should have been inducted into the coven years ago. Six months into her training, she receives an invitation to enjoy a Season in London as companion to Marion, a childhood friend. Her aunts are delighted – there are ever so many wizards in London, and perhaps Naomi will find one to marry. But Naomi instead falls instead for Marion's brother, Wyndom Long, Baron Newlyn, a Botany Geek about to propose to a humorless shrew who will leave him alone with his plants.
This was a cute story; Naomi is a sweet girl who has much to learn about witch's magic but manages the magic of falling in love with no problem. Wyndom takes a bit too long to dump the shrew, but he makes up for it, and Marion's transformation from tongue-tied wallflower to confident lady is very nice to see.
The Bewitchment of Lord Dalford: Debbie Raleigh
Annie Winsome is a witch who chose to remain with her mortal father when her mother returned to the coven, and is about to have her first Season. Her dear friend and neighbor, Lord Dalford, is a sweet man, but he cannot seem to enter a room without causing chaos. Fearing his bumbling ways will cause him to be shunned by the sticklers of the ton (and herself by association) she slips him a potion to make him less prone to accidents. When Annie next sees him in London, he is a smooth, debonair, highly sought after man about town who goes about rescuing damsels in distress. Obviously something went awry with her potion, and she finds herself not at all pleased with his transformation and not a little jealous of the fawning ladies which surround him.
Lord Dalford is really a powerful warlock who wishes to be loved for himself and so has assumed a mortal façade. He has found his wife-to-be in Annie and has loved her for years while she looked upon him as a brother. He enjoys having Annie see a different side of him and is encouraged by her jealousy.
I enjoyed this story very much. Lord Dalford's longing for love and his devotion to and patience with Annie were very sweet. And Annie's puzzlement over her reaction to the change in her old friend was fun.
The Reluctant Witch: Jeanne Savery
Lady Samantha Forsythe is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, and so, of course, a witch, though she's not particularly happy to be one. Her friend Mary, sharing the Season in London with her, is desperate to snag their hunky neighbor, Lord Dalreath, and importunes Sam to brew a love potion. Sam is reluctant to do so, something always goes wrong with these things, but lately Sam is realizing that she wouldn't mind having Dalreath for herself. Lord Dalreath has loved Sam for several years and is in London to win her, but finds himself having to dodge the annoying Mary at every turn.
I liked Samantha well enough, but that Mary was so selfish and so jealous of any attention paid to Samantha and so over the top, that annoyance with that character overshadowed almost all the action in the story. Add to that another shrewish minor character determined to exploit Sam's abilities and there were too many irritants in such a short format to really enjoy the story.
So, two out of three – not bad. I might wish that the authors had worked together on this anthology and agreed on the basic principles of the witch's world. Each author created their own “world” within their story, but they were all different. So one story had a witch as a human, just gifted. Another's witch was immortal. One witch could not use her magic for personal gain, another could. It was a bit jarring going from story to story and having to learn a new “reality” in each. But I enjoyed the Collum and Raleigh stories very well and can recommend them to those readers who like something a little different.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, September 18, 2003