The Marriage Spell

( 17 )

Overview

New York Times bestselling author Mary Jo Putney is acclaimed by critics and readers alike for unforgettable storytelling and arresting characters. Now she introduces a Regency England you’ve never seen before, where dazzling magic is practiced in all but the highest reaches of Society, and where desire is the most mysterious and seductive force of all.

One of the Duke of Wellington’s most respected officers, Jack Langdon, Lord Frayne, takes his family’s honor very seriously. He...

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Marriage Spell

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Mary Jo Putney is acclaimed by critics and readers alike for unforgettable storytelling and arresting characters. Now she introduces a Regency England you’ve never seen before, where dazzling magic is practiced in all but the highest reaches of Society, and where desire is the most mysterious and seductive force of all.

One of the Duke of Wellington’s most respected officers, Jack Langdon, Lord Frayne, takes his family’s honor very seriously. He also hides a shameful secret: a talent for sorcery he has been raised to suppress and openly reject. But after an injury lands Jack at death’s door, his only chance at survival lies with Abigail Barton, a peer’s daughter and a skilled wizard. Her price: Jack’s hand in marriage. It isn’t long before Jack feels an irresistible attraction to his forthright new wife, whose allure is as intense as the reawakening magical abilities he can no longer deny.

Abigail had to make a great sacrifice to perform a spell powerful enough to save Lord Frayne, and although she cannot help but be drawn to her reluctant husband’s surprising sensitivity and kindness, she knows all too well his distaste for magic. Once she has Jack’s name and the child she has always longed for, she is determined to live apart from him so that he can preserve his reputation–and so that she herself can stay true to her gifts.

But neither Abby nor Jack reckons on the deep, long-simmering passions her spell ignites. They challenge each other’s extraordinary powers and deepest desires for the sake of a love that may cost them all they cherish most.

With breathtaking skill and vivid historical detail, Mary Jo Putney weaves a tale of enchantment, mystery, and romance that will forever hold you spellbound.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Mary Jo Putney and A Kiss of Fate

“Mesmerizing in its emotional breadth, stunning in its backdrop, and spellbinding in its paranormal overtones . . . a marvelous, fast-paced tale.”
–Romantic Times

“A gifted writer with an intuitive sense of what makes romance work!”
–Amanda Quick

“[A] multilayered tale . . . skillfully entwining fantasy with historical romance . . . entranced readers will be delighted.”
–Booklist

“Putney [is] adept at atmosphere, pace, and eros.”
–Baltimore Sun

“Mary Jo Putney is not to be missed.”
–Jo Beverley

From the Hardcover edition.

Library Journal
Lord Frayne must hide his ability as a sorcerer; it's just not acceptable in Regency circles. But then he needs the help of a peer's daughter, the talented sorceress Abigail. Eventually, there's magic between them-after they marry. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345449191
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 834,859
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author, Mary Jo Putney is a graduate of Syracuse University with degrees in eighteenth-century literature and industrial design. The author of more than two dozen novels, Putney has been a nine-time finalist in the Romance Writers of America RITA contests, and has won two RITAs, four consecutive Golden Leaf Awards for Best Historical Romance, as well as the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Historical Romance. Her books have been listed four times by Library Journal as among the top five romances of the year. Putney lives near Baltimore, Maryland, with her nearest and dearest, both two- and four-footed.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Stonebridge Academy
Cumberland, Northwest England
September 1793

“Time to get up, rat!”

Jack Langdon’s narrow bed tilted ruthlessly, pitching him onto the cold stone floor. He shoved himself to a sitting position and blinked sleepily at the young man who had invaded his room. Where was he?

Stonebridge Academy. Of course. The family travel coach had deposited him here late the night before after days of exhausting travel. Jack had been given a piece of bread and shown to this room without seeing anything of his new school or classmates. Today he must learn how to survive the next years.

He scrambled to his feet and asked the older boy, “Are you a prefect?”

“I am. Call me Mr. Fullerton, sir. And you’re a rat, the lowest of the low. Get dressed and go down into the courtyard. The colonel wants to speak to the new rats.” The prefect scowled. “Do I need to stand over you while you put your clothes on?”

Jack had a powerful desire to plant a facer on that smirking mouth, but he wasn’t stupid. The prefect was probably seventeen, twice Jack’s size and three times as mean. He settled for saying, “No, Mr. Fullerton, sir. I’ll be right down.”

“See that you are.” Fullerton left for the next room.

Shivering, Jack went to the washstand. He had to break a skin of ice in the pitcher before he could pour the water. He should have guessed how cold Cumberland would be in September since they were practically in Scotland. It had taken three long days of uncomfortable travel to reach here from his home in Yorkshire.

His home. He tried not to think of Langdale Hall, where he’d lived his whole eleven years. He’d never wanted to leave. Though he’d known school was inevitable, he’d assumed they would send him to a regular place like Eton, not that he would end up at Stonebridge Academy in disgrace.

Trying to soften the blow, his mother had said the school was small and very good. The headmaster, Colonel Hiram Stark, was widely respected. Jack would learn a great deal, and each boy had his own room, not like some schools where dozens of boys slept in the same chamber.

Jack scanned his spartan surroundings. His own room? More like his own cell. Even his mother hadn’t tried to convince him that Stonebridge was anything other than punishment.

Fullerton stuck his head in the door. “Am I going to have to strip that nightshirt off, rat?” There was something avid in the prefect’s eyes that made Jack nervous for reasons he didn’t understand, and didn’t want to.

“No, Mr. Fullerton, sir.” Jack picked up his discarded clothing from the night before, grateful when Fullerton moved along to bully the next new student. He’d heard talk of how miserable schools were and thought maybe it was just older boys trying to scare younger ones. Apparently the rumors had been true.

When he grew up and entered the army, he’d have to put up with cold billets and beastly senior officers, so time to get used to it. He yanked on his clothes and grabbed his cloak, then headed into the corridor.

Outside in the long, gloomy hall, he hesitated. When a footman brought him to this room last night, it had been late and dark and he’d been too tired to notice the route. But he thought they’d come from the left. He turned that direction and set off at a brisk walk. It wouldn’t do to be late when summoned by the headmaster, and maybe walking would warm him up.

His corridor ended at another. As he paused and tried to remember, another boy of about his age emerged from a room to the left. Jack said, “Hello, I’m Jack Langdon. Are you going to the courtyard?”

The newcomer, wiry and blond with ice gray eyes, nodded. “I’m Ransom.”

Jack offered his hand. Ransom looked startled for a moment before returning the handshake.

“Do you know how to find it?” Jack asked.

“That way.” Ransom indicated the corridor to the right. “There’s a staircase to the ground floor at the end.”

They fell into step together. Jack was glad to meet another student—a fellow rat?—and wondered what he had done to end up here. But asking questions was bad form and Ransom looked like the touchy sort.

They were halfway to the stairs at the end when Jack heard a smothered cry from behind a door on his left. He halted, frowning, and wondered if he should investigate. Uncertainty was resolved when a sharper cry sounded.

“Hang on a moment,” Jack said to Ransom. The other boy scowled, but waited rather than continuing.

Jack tapped on the door. “ ’Lo in there! Are you all right?”

When there was no answer, he cautiously turned the knob. The door opened easily, but he didn’t find the sick boy he expected. Looking at him were three students—and the older two were tormenting a youth smaller than Jack. The tallest was viciously twisting the boy’s arm behind his back while his comrade was threatening the boy’s face with a candle flame.

“I say!” Jack said, shocked. “You shouldn’t be doing that.”

The largest boy, a redhead with a ferrety face, snarled, “Mind your own business, rat. I’m a prefect and can do what I damned well want.”

The boy with the candle growled, “Leave now and you won’t get hurt.”

Their victim stared at Jack but said nothing. Slight and dark-skinned, he had startling green eyes and an expression of bleak resignation.

Jack teetered on the edge of fleeing. But he couldn’t imagine that the boy had done anything to justify the way he was being treated, and right was right. Girding himself for a beating, he said, “It’s not fair for two of you to gang up on a smaller boy. If . . . if you don’t stop, you must face the consequences.”

The redhead laughed nastily. “As if we can’t thrash two rats as easily as one! But if that’s what you want . . .” He released his victim’s arm and moved toward the door.

“Not two. Three.” Ransom stepped into the doorway beside Jack and gave a smile that was all teeth. “Rats fight nastily when cornered.”

The redhead hesitated. Jack didn’t blame him. He’d just as soon not take on an opponent who looked as fierce as Ransom.

He sensed movement behind him. A cool voice said, “A fight? Splendid! I assume we’ll take on these two ugly bullies?”

From the corner of his eye, Jack saw that two more boys had joined them. Surrendering, the redhead shoved the green-eyed boy toward the door. “Go on, join your pack of rats and be grateful that they’re here to save you! For now.” His last words were a clear threat.

The smaller boy darted across the room and joined Jack’s group. There was a burn mark on his cheekbone and he looked as if tears were near the surface, but he didn’t complain. Slamming the door shut, he said, “Thank you. All of you.”

“Why did that happen?” Jack asked. “Do you know each other already?”

“No. They just don’t approve of me on principle,” the boy said tersely. “I’m Ashby. Hadn’t we better get down to the courtyard?”

“Right,” said the one of the two boys who had joined at the end. Fair-haired and whip-thin, he pivoted and headed down the corridor. “I’m Kenmore and this lethal lad is Lucas Winslow.”

Dark-haired Winslow was the one who had expressed that cool willingness to fight. Jack decided that Winslow and Ransom looked like a good match for each other. Tough fellows, but they’d come through when needed.

Moving at a fast trot, the five of them made their way down to the courtyard. The manor house rose on three sides, the gray stone looming over the flagstones in the yard. The academy was high in the hills, and a bitter wind slashed to the bone.

Several other boys were standing in a ragged line in front of a tall silver-haired man with a glower that would melt granite. Jack stiffened, knowing this had to be Colonel Stark, the headmaster of the academy. The colonel had achieved fame first in battle, then as founder of the most notorious school in Britain.

Against his better judgment, Jack cautiously tried to touch the colonel with his mind. Not to pry, just to get an idea of his personality. How to please the old devil and avoid punishment.

Nothing. Jack tried again, harder, and still got nothing. Queasily he realized that magic didn’t work here. He shouldn’t be surprised. That was the whole point, wasn’t it?

The colonel’s piercing gaze raked the newly arrived students. “You five are late. You’re off to a bad start. No breakfast for you. Now line up with the others and make sure the line is straight.”

Jack considered explaining why they were late and immediately discarded the thought. Stark wasn’t the sort to accept any excuses. Even if Jack had been delayed saving his mother’s life, it wouldn’t matter. He sighed, his stomach growling at the thought of no breakfast.

The newcomers joined the other boys in a line. Jack stood at one end, hoping he’d be overlooked.

Stark’s lip curled contemptuously as his gaze moved slowly along the line. “You all know why you are here. You are the sons of Britain’s greatest families. The finest blood in the land flows in your veins. You were born to become officers, diplomats, landowners, and clerics. The one thing you will not become is wizards. Wyrdlings!”

Jack shivered at the way the old man hissed the last word. The term wyrdling wasn’t very polite, and even though his father had despised magic, he’d not allowed his children to use the word. But Stonebridge was all about contempt for magic, so Jack had better get used to hearing wyrdling.

The cold gaze moved back down the line, halting at Jack. “All of you have been sent here because of a disgraceful interest in magic. A refusal to put it aside along with other childish things. Your parents want that filth beaten out of you. They chose well, for I never fail.”

Surprisingly Ransom spoke up. “Why is it wrong to use magic? Everyone has at least a bit of talent. It’s . . . it’s amusing, and it can be very useful. Even the church says magic is no sin if it’s not used for evil purposes. Why should we have to give it up?”

For a moment Stark was stunned to hear such heresy. Then he stalked forward until he loomed over Ransom. “Everyone has sexual organs, but that doesn’t mean they are to be glorified or exposed for the world to see,” he snapped. “Magic is for women, the inferior classes, and lazy swine who lie and cheat because they’re too incompetent to succeed on their own. For a gentleman to use magic is like being in trade. Worse.”

“Being a merchant is honest work,” someone muttered farther down the line.

Jack suspected that the colonel heard the remark but pretended not to rather than admit he didn’t know who had spoken. Keeping his attention on Ransom, he said, “For your defiance you will receive ten lashes. I am lenient because this is your first day. Do not expect such mercy again.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2006

    Resistance is futile!

    As a lad Jack Langdon realized he had some wizard powers. But sorcery is only for the lower classes and shunned by gentry. Upon finding out Jack showed magical talent, his father sent him off to Stonebridge Academy. This is where all the gentry sent their sons to have them (basically) brainwashed into hating all things that deal with magic, especially the wizards 'wyrdlings' who use it. On Jack's first full day at the academy, he meets the boys who will grow up to be his best friends. Ransom, Ashby, Kenmore, and Winslow were sent to the academy for the same reason as Jack. The academy did its job extremely well. As the boys grew into strong men, they buried their powers deep within themselves. In Jack's case though, his father took a couple of extra precautions to ensure Jack would hate everything about magic. ............... Abigail 'Abby' Barton is one of the best wizards in her generation. She has coveted Jack, Lord Frayne, for years but was content to worship him from afar. Abby is the area's best healer, except for her father, Sir Andrew Barton. But her father is away on business when Jack's friends knock upon her door. Jack has had an accident and is near death. With no where else to turn, Ransom and Ashby take Jack to Abby. Abby can save Jack's life, but only if she makes a great self-sacrifice to do so. Her price is Jack's hand in marriage. ................. It is not long before Jack feels an irresistible attraction to his new wife. Her allure is as intense as the reawakening magical abilities that dwell within himself. The two will challenge each other's extraordinary powers and deepest desires for the sake of a love that may cost them all they cherish most. ............................. ***** An outstanding story filled with love, magic, and trust. I did not think that I would enjoy this book when I laid eyes upon it. But from the moment I began reading I found myself bespelled. I read every moment that I had spare time. Author Mary Jo Putney will weave a spell upon your imagination. Resistance is futile! *****

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Wonderful reading

    Very differient story line unique telling of it as well. Would love to see what happens to their friends! I look forword to reading more of her titles

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    Not up to Par

    I've read several Mary Jo Putney books, and this was not up to the usual standard. I have a rule that I have to finish reading a book if I start it, and I had a really hard time getting through this one. I didn't relate to any of the characters who seemed weak, and the romance not in the least believable.

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  • Posted March 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A decent romance book

    I recently bought this book from the bargain section, and I didn't waste my money. The Marriage Spell is a pretty decent romance book. It's a little lacking in originality, being that it's about two people marrying each other without being in love; a sort of arranged marriage, but not the traditional kind. I also believe the book cover could've been more interesting to snag in customers. But other than that, it's a pretty good read. I read it in no time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2007

    Wonderful!! Didn't want to put it down..

    This was one of those rare, wonderfully different romances that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and couldn't wait to refer to friends - hence am on-line to buy the rest of Ms. Putney's 'magic' series..If you enjoy romance and magic, this is a kick!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    a waste of time!

    This is the silliest thing I have ever read. I actually laughed. Don't waste your time or money. I only finished it because I kept thinking surely there must be something that makes sense on the next page. Alas, I was mistaken! Buy a real book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2006

    A Magical Romp !

    Mary Jo Putney's novel 'The Marriage Spell' is a delightful book that will keep readers enchanted with its mix of senuality, danger, magic, love and friendship. MJP sets up future books in her 'Stone Saints' series with the introduction of the 'The Marriage Spell''s hero and his buddies as they deal with abuse and distain while at Stonebridge Academy. Their crime-having magically abilities.MJP has created an alternate universe where magic is real and is accepted by nearly everyone but the 'ton'. I would assume that future books will have a our heroes finding wonderfully stronge women who help them get in touch with their 'magical sides' I look forward to the next book in the series. The book is great for historical romancers and fantasy lovers alike.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    superb romantic fantasy

    In 1813 in the Midlands, Lord Jack Frayne rides his horse Dancer during a foxhunt, but when they make a leap, the steed loses its footing and slips Jack goes flying head first into a fence. His best friends since their Stonebridge Academy days Lords Ashby and Ransom are beside themselves as Jack nears death. Healer Abigail Barton, who has secretly loved Jack from afar, tries to help him but his injuries are beyond her magic. Though non-practitioners as the aristocracy sees magic as the bane of the working class, his friends offer to join Abigail in a Circle of Magic. She says since she is crossing the line of acceptable magic he must offer her something. She proposes marriage and the dying Jack agrees. --- Abigail works her magic assisted by Jack¿s pals and the aristocrat heals. They marry, but Jack avoids his spouse as if he is ashamed of her vocation. However he cannot totally stay away from her and soon Jack falls in love with his wife and has a new appreciation for magic. First he must convince his beloved that he is hers as he loves her to do so he decides he must speak out publicly in support of the healing powers of magic. --- In her latest superb romantic fantasy, Mary Jo Putney uses the Regency era as a backdrop to anchor the magical elements so that the audience believes in healing spells and wizards. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Jack suffers the near death traumatic injury and never slows down as he becomes a true believer. Jack and Abigail are a fine couple who through love embrace magic though that is a taboo in Polite Society. Once again Ms. Putney provides a charming magical historical (see A KISS OF FATE). --- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted March 31, 2009

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    Posted March 10, 2011

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    Posted September 26, 2011

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