The Guardian's Witch

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Expected Release Date: July 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Carina Press
Author’s Website: http://ruthacasie.com/
My Source for This Book: Netgalley
Part of a Series:  No
Series Best Read In Order: N/A
Steam Level: Steamy
Pet Peeves: Laughable Villain, Too Stupid To Live Moment
Favorite Tropes: Arranged/Forced Marriage

Official Blurb:

England, 1290

Lord Alex Stelton can’t resist a challenge, especially one with a prize like this: protect a castle on the Scottish border for a year, and it’s his. Desperate for land of his own, he’ll do anything to win the estate—even enter a proxy marriage to Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, the rumored witch who lives there.

Feared and scorned for her second sight, Lisbeth swore she’d never marry, but she is drawn to the handsome, confident Alex. She sees great love with him but fears what he would think of her gift and her visions of a traitor in their midst.

Despite his own vow never to fall in love, Alex can’t get the alluring Lisbeth out of his mind and is driven to protect her when attacks begin on the border. But as her visions of danger intensify, Lisbeth knows it is she who must protect him. Realizing they’ll secure their future only by facing the threat together, she must choose between keeping her magic a secret and losing the man she loves.

What Worked For Me:

  • I’ve always been a fan of the Arranged Marriage in romance, and this one was especially interesting because the heroine wasn’t even aware that she was married until the book was half over.  Not only was this a change from the heroes that show up and just demand that their new wives warm their beds, but it was fun because the longer Alex went without telling Lisbeth that they’d been married by proxy before his return, the worse it would be to finally tell her. This made for some lovely squirming on his part as well as a nice set up for the Big Reveal. 
  • I adored Lisbeth’s magic, especially in the events around the river.  Up to that point, it seemed that her “powers” were merely in mixing healing potions and maybe some precognitive dreams, but it soon became apparent that the Magic in her veins was indeed, well, magical.
  • One thing that definitely stood out was the chemistry between Alex and Lisbeth. Even though I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about a lot of the “steam” occurring in dreams/visions, it was still pretty hot, so I count it as a positive point.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  •  The villain was ridiculous and not in the least bit frightening. It was painfully obvious early on who the “baddie” was, and even when this person did something dastardly that should have created a lot of drama and tension, it was practically laughed off as just being a bit odd.  This was actually a pretty big negative point for me — if you’re going to have a villain, then have the villain at least be threatening or add intrigue and suspense. If you want the story to be mainly character driven and about the developing relationship between the protagonists, don’t throw in a limpid “villain” to stir the pot. 
  • There is a definite Too Stupid To Live moment on Lisbeth’s part that she frankly should have been thrashed for. She was very lucky we had such an insipid villain or things would have been quite bad for her based on her stubborn and rash actions.
  • While I loved Lisbeth’s magic (especially as it seemed to be getting stronger as the story progressed), I didn’t particularly care for the sudden revelation about Alex and his family at the end. It was an interesting twist, no doubt, but I wish there’d at least been hints of it before his family arrived.

This book had such a good premise to me — a beautiful ward of the king, living in a sort of exile as rumors of witchcraft surround her, is married by proxy to a handsome knight who really wanted her land far more than he wanted her.   As I began to read, and Alex and Lisbeth became actual characters, with their own strengths and weaknesses, the story only got better.

Unfortunately, what sank this story for me was a combination of some incredibly foolish actions on Lisbeth’s part, and a truly ridiculous, weak villain.   I never felt that Lisbeth was ever in any real danger, which meant that there was very little tension in the story.  It was obvious very early on who the villain was, and yet even the Big Reveal was a bit of a let down, and I ended up feeling a bit sorry for the villain rather than happy that justice was being served.

Even so, there was a lovely amount of sexual chemistry between Lisbeth and Alex, and I truly enjoyed her magical and psychic powers.  It just didn’t quite make up for the bland villain and lack of danger.

03stars
3/5 Stars