by Patricia Rice

August 2004
ISBN: 0-451-21264-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Signet Books
Mass Market Paperback

Author Patricia Rice has penned another “Magic” story about the fascinating Malcolm family and their otherworldly gifts. She has created a heroine who has only dabbled with her talent, and a hero who has too many burdens to bear.

Christina Malcolm Childe sees auras, colorful clues about how a person is feeling or their true nature. Once, when she was very small, these auras actually took corporeal form when one of her ancestors warned her about a dangerous place in the woods. Now, a betrothed young woman, she is convinced that her fiancé has come to break their engagement. After all, Harry is now the Duke of Sommersville, not the carefree second son she agreed to marry. Surely he will need a more powerful family connection, a more accomplished lady as his Duchess. Christina and Harry have known each other forever, and while they have true affection between them, each one knows that they have family duty as well.

Harry Winchester has not come to break the betrothal, but to enforce it - immediately. Discussing the matter with Lord Childe, he explains the reason for his haste. He has inherited a disaster. Reeling from the sudden death of his father and brother, Harry has been informed that the estate has been mortgaged to the hilt and that the entailment papers are missing. Unless he can obtain funds, he will lose everthing. Can a duke still be a duke when he is homeless and nearly penniless? Harry has lived quite comfortably on his own income, but it is a pittance compared to what is owed and what is needed to continue to support an estate, staff and village. He must marry Christina so that he can keep the wolves from the door while he searches for a long-term solution.

Christina is shocked. What has happed to Harry? Always so carefree, so comfortable with her, his aura has turned a startling shade of brown. He is hiding something from her, no doubt, but it is his insistence on marriage that has her worried the most. She doesn’t feel that she knows him anymore, and agrees to wed, if he will give her some time to reacquaint herself with her husband before consummating the marriage.

All of Christina’s talents - and patience - will be required to help Harry set to rights his new title and home. Of course it can’t really be called a home. It is a dilapidated monstrosity with an inner ancient core and reconstruction and new building in various directions. The estate is barely habitable. Unless you are one of the many ghosts who reside there. Ghosts who are eager to make their presence known to Christina, ghosts who have their own reasons for using her gift.

This Magic Moment has plenty of humor, but the overlying theme is so dark, that you cannot really call it a romp. Harry seems to think that he must shoulder all the burdens and troubles alone - arrogant man! Why he does not confide in his childhood sweetheart is beyond me. Pride can be a terrible companion and of little use when someone needs help. He adores Christina, but wants to keep her sheltered from the ugliness of the truth. He is so concerned about her safety that he forgets her strength. I liked the way that Christina goes on about her business anyway. She learns to rely on her talent and in doing so brings the support and love Harry so desperately needs. It is a fine love story that will enchant and entertain.

Reviewed in July 2004 by Paula.

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