Medallion Press, Inc.
I have a confession: I’m a sucker for anything that has to do with Scotland and castles. My family went to Scotland when I was in high school and I made them stop at every castle we came to…that’s like tripping over Starbucks here in the US. While I’m not the biggest romance reader, when I saw that Amy Tolnitch’s A Lost Touch of Magic took place in the medieval highlands, I had to read it.
A Lost Touch of Magic is the fourth in Ms. Tolnitch’s Lost Touch series, a series which focuses on the lives and loves of intertwined characters. The heroes of previous books make small cameos in this one and vice versa. This was my first of the Lost Touch series and I was able to slip into the world easily. Not having read the others did not hinder my reading or understanding of this book. I suspect, however, that reading all of the series will deepen readers’ enjoyment.
Padruig is the disgraced laird of Castle MacCoinneach. Aimili is the wild daughter of the laird next door. Fiercely independent, she has a secret power. Touted as a paranormal romance, a ghost sets the story in motion by convincing Padruig to return to the castle and reclaim his right to be laird. After a marriage of convenience to Padruig, Aimili realizes she must give up her childhood fantasies of love, even though Padruig is the man she has been fantasizing about. Meanwhile, the clan is in jeopardy from poor management and a vengeful force from the fey kingdom of Paroseea. Can the MacCoinneach clan be saved? Can Aimili and Padruig truly be husband and wife?
For a paranormal romance, I expected more paranormal, but the ghost only seems to arrive when the plot needs a push forward. The overwhelming “other-worldliness” of A Lost Touch of Magic springs from the magic of Paroseea. This insertion of the fey kingdom was disconcerting at first. I felt like I was reading two different books that had nothing in common. However, as the book progressed, the worlds became more tightly entwined and the scenes in Paroseea made more sense to me. However, I greatly preferred the scenes that took place in the “real” world. Not only were the characters more intriguing, but the action was more immediate. Also, the description of the Paroseea with its multi-colored dolphins and pink sun, reminded me of the Lisa Frank trapper keeper I had in elementary school.
In true romance style, everyone in the book is deeply involved in the love life of the main characters, but I had to wonder why. The clan is facing many dire situations, so why is everyone more concerned with the love life of the laird and lady than their upcoming troubles?
The language gave me the most hang-ups. I appreciated the use of the Scottish dialect (bairn, laird, loch, och, dinnae) and Gaelic names (Padruig). However, the attempt to make the story sound like it fit the historical timeframe through long, flowery sentences made for difficult reading. There were also times when the language switched to a shorter, more modern sentence structure. The mixing of the styles was distracting. I also questioned the use of some names. I understand that the French and Scottish were allies, so the use of De Grantham made sense, however the names Loki and Freya are both from Norse mythology. The meaning behind the names certainly highlighted character traits, however since the story was supposed to take place in a real country at a real time and not a fantastic realm, the names seemed like a stretch.
Ms. Tolnitch plants hints at the beginning of the story but does not give readers enough bread crumbs to make the connections needed for those sweet ah-ha moments. There was also incongruity with a plot point.
All that being said, I did enjoy the story. I kept turning the page to find out what happened and Aimili’s secret power gives us many interesting scenes with horses. The details she provides give the reader a feeling of insider knowledge.
A Lost Touch of Magic is a satisfying romance but, as a reader who loves Scotland, I wanted more of a sense of place. For romance readers, this book had the struggles and victories they’re looking for. Readers who enjoy fantasy will find more of what they love than those looking for the paranormal.
Reviewed by Cam Robbins
© August, 2008