by Mary Jo Putney

July 2004
ISBN: 0-345-43705-5
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Gwyneth Owens is a scholar of Guardian history, ancient spells and traditions. She doesnít believe she has inherited any of her fatherís powers and, recently widowed, she enjoys her independence. Then Duncan Macrae, one of the most powerful Guardians, threatens her equilibrium. He claims her with a fateful kiss.

On his return to the British Isles, Duncan only plans a short visit to London before heading home to Scotland and his responsibilities as Laird to his clan. Upon meeting Gwyneth, heís irrevocably drawn to her. He knows that fate has brought them together. And so he does not question her sudden acceptance of his marriage proposal after she previously had so strongly refused him.

Gwyneth is urged by the Guardian Council to marry Duncan. Itís up to her to prevent Duncan from going against Guardian principles, from supporting the Stuartsí claim to the British throne and causing disaster for England and Scotland. Not that much persuasion is needed . Gwyneth is already drawn to him even while weary of his immense powers.

Their union proves to be the catalyst for her magical potential. Plain and scholarly Gwyneth turns into an enchantress. And it is those powers that will help her betray her husband. Mary Jo Putneyís characters might be powerful and sometimes wise but they are also human. And as such they make mistakes. At least they are willing to acknowledge them and to learn from them.

A Kiss of Fate is about love and loyalty to a cause, to a beloved and an identity. Itís about tolerance for traditions and beliefs other than your own. Itís about the responsibilities that come from wielding power, of using them to serve a greater good, one of humanity and peace. Itís also about understanding that prevention is better than retaliation.

I donít know why I was so surprised to see such strong and clear messages after having read Mary Jo Putneyís previous trilogy, but I honestly was. It is a pleasant surprise though, as it meant not only enjoying a romance between two very powerful and beautiful people which are clearly on equal standing, but also to delve deeper and realize once more that one can learn from historyís lessons.

In the beginning the writing was too heavy for my liking, too rich. Later on it all seemed more clear and precise. Less suffocating and lush, it allowed for a very satisfying read. Although had it not been for the interesting lessons and the way the were woven into the storyline Iíd have found the story lacking, as the romance and the struggles in itself were too easy resolved. Iíd have loved to see more of the relationship aspects to be expected from a woman having to cope with such a strong mate and a powerful mage suddenly finding himself bound to an equally strong partner. Maybe thatís the storyline waiting for me when reading Mary Jo Putneyís next release featuring Simon and Jane?

Reviewed in June 2004 by Kris Alice.

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