RogerBW's Blog

Goblin Fruit, Celia Lake 29 October 2022

2019 romantic fantasy, second of its loose series. In a slightly sideways magical 1924, Elspeth Penhallow finds herself looking into the suppliers of an addictive magical drink. As does Lord Geoffrey Carillon…

As before, parts of this are obvious, other parts unexpected. There's a fine meet-cute (they're each trying to sneak in to observe a party where people are only admitted in pairs), there are various misunderstandings (he's considered a great catch and expected to marry someone of his own class, she isn't). As is becoming increasingly and refreshingly common in the modern romances I read, they sort these problems out like adults rather than going off in a snit. They are of course a perfect match in bed, but as in the first book they talk about what they each might like or dislike rather than simply assuming (another feature of modern romances of which I thoroughly approve).

At the same time, Elspeth has a younger sister who's got in with the fast set that's associated with the drink, and might be getting addicted to it, and Elspeth gives her a strong warning… and she listens, because they have been good friends in the past and Elspeth makes it clear just how serious she is. Too many stories even by good authors would show the principals having to rescue her from her folly; but no, she has some agency of her own, and she uses it. (Indeed, the principals don't need to be in at the kill; that's a job for the police, and they stay back and let the police do their job.)

There are some questions that aren't entirely answered, and what feels like a whole missing scene dealing with Welsh dwarves, but perhaps I'm reading this with too technical a mindset: I want the full solution to the procedural problem that our heroes have been working at as well as the happy romantic ending.

Clearly Lord Carillon has a touch of the Wimsey about him (well-off and socially respected; he had a bad time in the War; he has a faithful servant who knows about his post-traumatic stress) but I wouldn't call him a copy in any but these blunt elements; the details are quite different, and he's very much his own man.

I'm continuing to enjoy this series; they're not quite like anything else I read.

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Previous in series: Outcrossing | Series: Mysterious Charm | Next in series: Magician's Hoard

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