In my efforts to familiarize myself with various literary genres, I have begun cracking a few romance novels. Or, rather, many of them. I began by checking out a half-dozen or so out from the library, only to return all of them without getting past the fifty page mark. Determined to find some romance novels which would appeal to readers with a bias towards contemporary literature (like myself), I set up shop at my local bookstore. After reading the first few pages of dozens of books, I left armed with a list of promising leads. One of the books on my list came from Patricia Rice’s magic series: The Trouble with Magic. Like most romance novels, the magic series consists of six interlocking books which can be read individually or in order.
Set in Regency England, the historical period which preceded the ever-popular Victorian era, Rice’s magic books revolve around the antics of the Malcolm family. Although they are respected due to their social stature, the Malcolms are not quite respectable. A magic streak runs through their bloodline, imbuing them with altogether unorthodox abilities which result in a great deal of mischief and general mayhem.
While Rice successfully musters all of the components of great romance novels in her books–quality writing, relatable heroines with solid character development, imperfect yet lovable heroes, sexual and dramatic tension, a steamy sex scene or two, and a story which hinges on a romantic relationship–the subtle originality of the magic in the series sets it apart from the ever-growing crowd.
In Must Be Magic, the second book in the series, the heroine Leila spins a unique magic. So bizarre, in fact, that she believes she has no magical gift at all. She mixes personalized perfumes grown from her own roses which, when applied, reveal an individual’s true self and dark secrets.
The Trouble with Magic, book three, revolves around Felicity Malcolm, Leila’s younger sister. An empath, Felicity tunes into the emotions of others with even the most casual touch. Bombarded with sensory overload, Felicity has trouble functioning in the world, where a night on unchanged sheets reveals the exploits of their former occupants. Rice fully exercises the comic potential of empathic abilities in a Regency courtship setting.
Rice exhibits romance writing at its best in her positively magical series.