My Rating: 4 stars Read: 3/18/2017
New Release (revised reissue of a 1996 title)
- New Release Challenge
- My Romance Challenge
Originally written under the pseudonym Deborah Martin, this unforgettable tale of mystery, treasure, and passion is back in print at last and newly revised for today’s audience—and available as an ebook!
Welsh widow Catrin Price is haunted by a family death curse. Any man whom she marries without first drinking from an ancient Druid chalice sold by her ancestor long ago is unquestionably doomed. But when she hunts it down to purchase it, the chalice’s former owner ends up dead. Who will believe her innocent with the man’s treasure in her hands? Now she lives in fear of discovery, afraid to trust, afraid to give away her heart…
Even Newcome, a scholar struggling to overcome a difficult past, travels to Wales to find the mysterious woman last seen with his murdered friend. So when the lady proves to be a beautiful yet shy creature who shares his love of Welsh mythology, he’s torn between believing her guilty and trusting the passion blazing between them. But as unscrupulous men seek the chalice for their own devious purposes, will Catrin and Evan let their wall of mistrust stand between them? Or will they defeat their enemies together and embrace the love intended for them since time immemorial?
It’s been a while since I indulged in a regency romance, so I was looking forward to this one. It’s a rather “plotty” romance with strong sub-plots (besides the romance), which is something I quite like. I also enjoyed the fact that it involved unusual elements and places–a small town in Wales, ancient Druidic curses, and a ‘magic’ chalice.
Despite the Druids and the chalice, this book is straight-up regency romance and doesn’t delve too far into fantasy. The heroine is Catrin who comes from a Welsh family allegedly descended from Morgana, a Welsh Druidic priestess/part fairy. Catrin lives a normal regency heroine sort of life running her estate, but she’s shy and tender-hearted. When her first husband is killed on her wedding day, Catrin looks into her family history and discovers that Morgana, angry about her daughter marrying a common tradesman, created a chalice and a curse, dooming any future marriages unless the bride drinks from the chalice on her wedding day to show her respect for the old gods. Catrin buys into the curse whole-heartedly, and decides to hunt down and buy back the chalice before she ever attempts to marry again. Unfortunately, after she buys the chalice in London, the young aristocrat who sold it to her is murdered.
The hero, Evan, is a Cambridge scholar in ancient legends, and he goes to see Catrin supposedly in that context, but really he’s looking into the death of his friend, the man who sold Catrin the chalice.
The plot has plenty of danger/obstacles including the true murderer, another man who has his heart set on Catrin and is quite nasty, and various instances of stealing/regaining the chalice. The romance aspect comes on fairly heavily from the first time Evan sees Catrin (she happens to rise out of the lake in the mist since she was, coincidentally, out for a swim). There’s a fair amount of sex in the book.
At 20% I loved the story. The writing is quite good and every scene feels like it needs to be there. As I said, there’s quite a bit of story in the story, and there isn’t a lot of filler or meandering, which is good. I was engaged and read through the book in 2 days. I loved the villains and the Druid/chalice aspects of the story a great deal. The romance was good, though both h and H are pretty deeply flawed characters.
I took off one star because there were several things about the story that bothered me. Catrin continually lies, which the reader knows is a very bad idea, and while I could understand her desire to protect herself initially, after awhile I just wanted to smack her for it. It was so clearly going to blow up in her face. And then, when it did, the hero behaves abominably. He really lost my sympathies there. The thing that bothered me the most, however, was ****MILD SPOILER the way Evan initially keeps pushing Catrin for sex, even though she says ‘no’, and he tells her flat-out it’s just sex and he’ll never marry her, and he learns she’s still a virgin. He still ignores her protests and pushes hard to get her into bed. He acts dishonorably and way too boarish, IMHO. I don’t find that sexy. **** END SPOILER
Despite these nits, it was a fun read that really kept my attention and made me want to read more Sabrina Jeffries. If you enjoy plotty regency romances I can recommend Windswept.