Monday, February 15, 2010

Review: A Kiss of Fate by Mary Jo Putney

Kiss of Fate
by Mary Jo Putney
2004 Ballantine Books
345 pages
Hardcover Edition
Genre: Historical Romance

4/5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)
Laird of an ancient, powerful Scottish clan, Duncan Macrae is committed to ending the ceaseless strife between Scotland and England. But he also has other, secret powers - those of a Guardian, humans with mystical abilities to control nature's forces and see into the hearts of others. And from the moment he encounters the young and independent English widow Gwyneth Owens, his fiery spirit is irrevocably drawn to claim her as his own - a passion that will not only set his loyalty to his land against his sworn Guardian vows, but will also threaten everything he cherishes most.

Though Gwynne's father was a Guardian, she believes that she has inherited only her mother's beauty, not her father's power. Then one kiss from the dangerously alluring Laird of the Macraes ignites a hunger that shakes her to her soul - and reveals visions of a looming catastrophe that threatens England and Scotland both. Only by becoming Duncan's wife, and ultimately betraying the man she loves, can she avert disaster.

As destiny and two mighty nations clash, Gwynne and Duncan must push their powers and passions beyond the most forbidden limits if they are to save their love - and secure the future.

My Thoughts
I love the concept of The Guardians, who have supernatural powers, living among the mortals, and sworn to protect them. They do not interfere in the normal course of events, but do on occasion help control the outcome when a large number of people are threatened. Many years ago, Gwynne's father risked alienating his family by marrying a mundane, something that was discouraged as a Guardian man needed to marry an equally powerful woman in order to keep the bloodline strong and to balance his own powers. Gwynne, thinking she was born without any Guardian powers, develops her father's love of history and lore and academia, and is content with her life as the companion of her late husband's sister. The women of the Guardians are certainly as equally powerful as the men during this time period, and women who are born of the Guardians, but do not have any powers, are trained to be useful and lead fulfilling lives. This would not necessarily be true of all women during this time period, where many women died of disease, childbirth, famine, and labour.

When Duncan Macrae enters her life, she sees him and knows he is her destiny. However, at the first kiss, she sees images of blood and destruction and is completely horrified. She is shocked and reluctant to marry Duncan as she can't get the images out of her mind. The Guardian Council asks her to marry Duncan in order to keep an eye on him and prevent him from interfering in a future event that will have cataclysmic effects on both England and Scotland. She is the only one who can stop him and before everything is done, she may have to betray everything she holds dear.

While the concept of this novel is really exciting, I actually thought it didn't live up its promise. Gwynne and Duncan, while both passionate creatures, don't seem to connect in a way that kept me completely fascinated and enthralled. I was actually more infatuated with Simon and the events of the Jacobites and the magic than I was with the developing relationship between Gwynne and Duncan. I love romance and passion and it's not to say that there weren't great and unexpected moments in this novel, but not enough to keep me interested in their relationship. I thought the second half of the novel was much more interesting than the first half. The events leading up to the rebellion and the emotions underlying it brought a lot of tension that made the rebellion seem more real. It was easy to see how people were torn in two during this time and the difficult choices they had to make between the idea of freedom from England and the Hanoverians or to continue following what they perceived to be an unjust and weak English ruler; it tore families apart. It was a passionate and patriotic time period.

There are some amazing characters in this novel that I would love to read more about in future novels. I think there is a great story about Simon, Lord Falconer, a man who really interested me as he was mysterious and secretive. He is Duncan's best friend, and shows up at the most unexpected times. The dark, brooding, good-looking, mysterious type gets me every time. There is Duncan's fiery and passionate sister Jean, who led a group of Jacobites herself in the rebellion and narrowly avoided her own dark fate. She has her own untapped Guardian power that is just waiting to be developed. I loved her power and her strength and how she wasn't afraid of anything.

I really admire Mary Jo Putney as a writer and have enjoyed many of her books. While this novel had many wonderful elements, and I would definitely read more Guardian novels to find out more about Simon and Jean, this is not my favourite Mary Jo Putney novel.


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