Stolen Magic

Stolen Magic

4.0 20
by M. J. Putney

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With richly imagined characters and compelling stories, New York Times bestselling author M. J. Putney has won dazzling praise from reviewers and readers across the country. Her spellbinding new romantic fantasy will sweep you from Wales’s mysterious forests to the glittering menace of Georgian London–and into a shattering rendezvous with fate.


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With richly imagined characters and compelling stories, New York Times bestselling author M. J. Putney has won dazzling praise from reviewers and readers across the country. Her spellbinding new romantic fantasy will sweep you from Wales’s mysterious forests to the glittering menace of Georgian London–and into a shattering rendezvous with fate.

Heir to an ancient title, Simon Malmain, the Earl of Falconer, is well known among the Guardians, humans with magical powers derived from nature. Well known, but not always well loved . . . for those who enforce the law are rarely embraced by those whom they protect–and this is equally true whether the law is magical or mundane.

A routine mission to confront a rogue Guardian who has misused his powers turns disastrous when Simon’s quarry, Lord Drayton, captures his pursuer in a transformation spell that can only be released by Drayton–or death. Aid arrives in the form of Meg, a fey young woman who first traps Simon, then frees him.

As they flee together, Simon recognizes that Meg is also a victim of Drayton’s evil enchantments, and he restores her nature and innate magic. Though her memory is still clouded, she is freed at last from a shadowy world of fear and lost identity. She agrees to help Simon bring down Drayton.

The need for each other’s magic binds them together–and releases the more ancient magic of passion. But desire cannot be satisfied until the rogue mage is stopped. For Drayton has a diabolical plan that will profoundly alter the course of Britain’s future. Even the combined power of Simon and Meg may not be enough to stave off catastrophe. Only a desperate act of love may win back the future–or destroy all they hold dear.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Advance praise for Stolen Magic

“M. J. Putney has created true magic with this book, the kind that comes when you curl up in a comfortable armchair and let the story take your imagination away. Come visit an enchanted eighteenth-century England and meet two desperate lovers caught in the web of a sinister lord with great magical power. Romantic and lyrical, this tale will fill your reading time with pleasure. I loved it.”
–Catherine Asaro, Nebula Award-winning author of The Misted Cliffs

“M. J. Putney's writing has always been magical; now that she has turned her hand to the telling of a fantasy tale, it sparkles on the page. Stolen Magic has to be one of the most delightful reads of the year, a witty, finely crafted tale that enchants from beginning to end. As always, Putney’s intelligent wordsmithery, scholarship, eye for detail, and ability to bring to life irresistible characters add up to enjoyment on every page. Fast-moving and fun!”
–Elizabeth Haydon, author of the Symphony of Ages series

“Magic meets science, love wars with duty, and power claims its due in this lush and fast-paced romantic fantasy novel. Seamlessly weaving together the Age of Enlightenment with the destiny of mages, Stolen Magic immerses the reader in a richly detailed world of strong-willed characters and the volatile sorcery that threatens to destroy them. This author, who has long been one of my favorite romance writers, has now become one of my favorite fantasy novelists!”
–Laura Resnick, author of The White Dragon and The Destroyer Goddess

Publishers Weekly
In bestseller Putney's spellbinding second romantic fantasy (after 2004's A Kiss of Fate), Earl of Falconer, Simon Malmain, chief enforcer of the Guardian Council, which oversees the use of magic in 18th-century Britain, has been turned into a unicorn by Lord Drayton, a renegade mage whom Simon charges with encouraging the Jacobite uprising; only a virgin can transform Simon back into human form. Luckily for Simon, animal-loving "Mad Meggie," Drayton's "servant," succeeds in doing so, while Simon breaks the spell that's kept Meg in the dark sorcerer's thrall. Allied in a "pretend" marriage, the pair pool their unusual talents in an effort to ruin Lord Drayton's plan to prevent the Industrial Age from revolutionizing England. Putney's skill as a historical romance novelist serves her well in the depiction of London and the subplot featuring a gifted developer of the steam engine. The love that grows between Simon and Meg, though pretty standard fare, includes some wonderfully steamy moments. While the final battle between good and evil offers few surprises, it's still entertaining enough to raise anticipation for the next installment. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As a member of the Guardians, Simon Malmain, Lord Falconer, enforces the rules that protect those who do not possess the ability to use magic-the vast majority of humans-from those, like himself, who do. When Simon's attempt to strip the powerful and ruthless Lord Drayton of his magical powers goes awry, transforming Simon into a unicorn, his only hope of escape and justice lies with a young woman named Meg, who serves as Drayton's magical "battery" and whose own unique talent for magic has been locked away. Writing as M.J. Putney, romance writer Mary Jo Putney (A Kiss of Fate) blends romantic suspense with fantasy to produce a graceful tale of magical intrigue and the power of love to overcome evil. Set in the 18th century, this meticulously researched and emotionally convincing story launches a promising new series and should appeal to fans of both fantasy and romance. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.90(d)

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Chapter ONE

Monmouthshire 1748

As the Earl of Falconer, Simon Malmain traveled with an entourage of carriages and coachmen and most certainly his valet. As the chief enforcer of the Guardian Council, he walked alone, a darker shadow in the night.

The sky was dark with clouds, perfect for secret deeds. Simon wore black, even his fair hair covered by his tricorne hat. Not that he feared Lord Drayton, whose powers were less impressive than his ambitions, but a wise hunter left nothing to chance.

His horse had been left in a convenient field so that Simon could approach Castle Drayton unnoticed. He’d studied the castle from a distance and spoken with a former servant, who had fled Drayton’s service in fear of his soul. The master of the house was in residence, recently returned from London, where Drayton held a cabinet post. Simon had considered confronting him in the city before deciding that this remote area was better. If there was a magical battle, the fewer who might be affected, the better.

The castle stood on a rocky rise cradled in the bend of a small river that ran into the Severn. The original building had been updated and expanded over the centuries, but its site remained an imposing hill chosen to repel attacks. Soldiers would have a hard time penetrating the castle. Simon didn’t.

He met the first barrier near the top of the hill. It was a warning shield of surprising competence. Drayton must have been practicing. Simon sketched a series of symbols with one hand. A man-sized hole opened in the energy shell. He stepped through and closed the portal behind him, undetected. Though he could have taken the wards down entirely, there was no reason to warn Drayton prematurely.

The next barrier was the closed gates. Luckily a small side door cut through the wall, its position largely concealed by overgrown vegetation. Its bespelled lock was no match for Simon. He hushed the squeal of the door and closed it soundlessly behind him. Best to leave it unlatched. He doubted he would have to leave in a rush, but he never took anything for granted. Enforcers of Guardian law who made assumptions were unlikely to die in bed.

In the shadow of the wall, he used his inner senses to study the courtyard. A pair of bored guards stood watch in the turret that loomed above the castle gates. In a peaceable England, that marked Drayton as a most suspicious man. The product of a guilty conscience, no doubt.

Before entering, Simon scanned the keep. At this hour most servants were asleep in the attics or the stables, a separate building behind the castle. He wrinkled his nose in distaste as he felt the energy of the establishment. It was crude, corrupted, with most of the residents either fearful or brutish. He felt the quicksilver touch of a lighter female energy, perhaps a very young maidservant. He guessed she would soon have reason to curse her parents for putting her into service under Drayton. Perhaps literally under. Still another reason to confront the man, before he could do more damage.

A corner chamber on the second floor was brightly lit, and he sensed that Drayton was working there. The man’s energy was untroubled; he didn’t realize his castle had been breached.

Cloaking himself in a don’t-see spell, Simon crossed the courtyard and ascended the steps to the keep. There was no reaction from the guards in the turret. If they noticed him, it was only as a shadow.

The lock on the door to the keep was old and primitive, easy to open. He stepped into the absolute darkness of the entry hall. After pausing to check that the space was devoid of any living presence, Simon conjured a spark of mage light in his palm. He kept it dim, just enough to illuminate his path across the great hall and then up the broad stairs. His blood quickened as he ascended, knowing that the end of the hunt was nigh. Though he acted by will of the council to enforce the laws of the Families, the hunt itself fulfilled an ancient, more primitive need.

Cracks of light outlined the door to the corner chamber. The knob turned easily under his hand. As he had guessed, the room was a study, richly furnished and well lit. Lamplight glinted from gold-leaf decorations on the furniture and the frame of the mirror above the fireplace.

Simon wasted little attention on the furnishings. What mattered was Lord Drayton, the man behind the magnificent desk that faced the door. His powdered wig and brocade garments would not have been out of place at the royal palace.

Simon had found his prey.

Drayton raised his head at Simon’s entrance. There was no shock in his expression. Only . . . a trace of satisfaction? Surely not.

“If it isn’t the esteemed Lord Falconer, dressed as a highwayman,” Drayton said dryly. “I’ve wondered when you would come after me. I expected you sooner.”

“I take my time when I collect my evidence.” Simon’s voice was cool, but a warning bell sounded in his mind. It wasn’t natural for a mage to be so relaxed when confronted by the Guardian Council’s enforcer. “Not that it was difficult in your case. Lately you’ve made little attempt to conceal your transgressions of Guardian law.”

Drayton leaned back in his chair, playing idly with the quill of his pen. “With what am I charged?”

Simon pulled a folded document from an inside pocket and dropped it on the desk. “Here is a listing of what I know and can prove, though I have no doubt there is much more. You have used your power with greed and selfishness, and injured many innocents in the process.” He shook his head, still amazed at the other man’s callousness. “How could you encourage the Jacobite rising, knowing how many would die? Didn’t those sundered souls cause you pain?”

“Not particularly. Few of the dead were any great loss to mankind.”

Simon clamped down on the anger triggered by the other man’s words. Loss of control would put him at a disadvantage. “I suggest you consult the charging documents. If there is anything you would like to dispute, now is the time.”

Drayton skimmed the pages. “Admirably thorough.” His brows arched when he read the last page. “I didn’t think you’d discover that. Well done. You’re a credit to your lineage.” He dropped the papers back on his desk. “As you suspected, this is not a complete list of my wicked deeds, but it’s quite enough for your purposes.”

This interview was going all wrong. Drayton acted as if he was invulnerable, yet his magical power had never been more than average. Silently Simon began to scan the room, seeking dangerous anomalies. Aloud, he said, “As you know, there are two stages of censure. You freely admit that you have violated Guardian laws. Are you prepared to swear on your blood that you will never do so again?”

Drayton smiled lazily. “You can’t imagine that I will do that.”

“And if you did, I can’t imagine you keeping your word,” Simon said dryly. “You leave me no choice but to forcibly strip your powers from you.”

“Strip away, Falconer.” Drayton’s eyes narrowed. “If you can.”

Simon hesitated a moment. The process of destroying another person’s magical powers was not pleasant for either party, and was very seldom invoked. His intuition was also on high alert—Drayton’s reaction to this confrontation made no sense. Simon detected a very small thread of energy running from Drayton to an unknown destination, but nothing else was out of order. Why was the other man so confident?

Drayton stretched a magic-hazed hand toward a desk drawer. Seeing through the spell, Simon stared incredulously as the other man pulled out a pistol. Did Drayton really think such a crude defense would be enough to protect him from justice?

With a swift gesture to channel the energy, Simon destroyed the pistol’s internal mechanism—and in the same instant, he was blasted by a magic power unlike anything he had ever experienced. Every fiber of his being was under attack, ripping asunder.

As he gasped for breath, he realized that he was falling, unable to save himself, much less fight back. Drayton had pulled the pistol to distract Simon from the real attack. But where the bloody blue hell was the bastard getting such power? This was immense, far greater than anything the rogue had ever shown. Such power didn’t come from nowhere.

He managed to evoke his inner senses and was startled to see that the fine thread of energy he’d seen attached to Drayton had become a river of fire. Raw power poured into Drayton, who channeled it into searing waves that enveloped Simon. Agonized, he thrashed about on the floor, feeling as if he were burning alive. His limbs were being torn and reforged as in a blacksmith’s fire. His pulse hammered in his ears, almost drowning the sound of Drayton’s laughter and a strange, ripping noise.

He tried to muster his own power but he was overwhelmed, voiceless magically and physically. His mind was fracturing, clarity melting in Drayton’s magical flames.

“I have waited a long time to do this, Falconer,” the other man hissed. “In your arrogance, you thought you could take me. Instead, I am taking you.”

More energy scorched through Simon, shocking as a lightning bolt. Was this death? But he had always thought death would be a quiet welcome, not this hell of agony and flames.

The last jolt of transforming power knocked him into blackness. Then, mercifully, the pain began to ebb away. Guessing that he had been unconscious only a moment, he struggled to regain his feet. But his body was unfamiliar, awkward. He was pushing himself up not with arms, but—with forelegs?

Wondering if he was dreaming, he forced himself upright, and saw that his view of the room was curiously distorted. But no dream could feel so real. The scents of books and ink and dust were sharply intense, and he ached in every muscle.

He turned, and almost tripped over his own feet. His body was no longer his own. He looked down, having to turn his head to see. Impossibly, he saw four cloven-hoofed legs tangled in black fabric—the torn remnants of his clothing. Fighting panic, he looked around and saw that Drayton was visibly gloating.

Fear washed through Simon as he recognized vicious malice in the other man’s expression. He backed away from Drayton, his tail lashing.

His tail?

Frantically he swung his head, somehow managing to bang his forehead on the bookcase behind him. Ignoring the pain, he stared into the mirror above the mantel.

Looking back at him was a shimmering white unicorn.

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Stolen Magic 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stripping a fellow Guardian of their magic is a terrible thing, but Simon, Earl of Falconer, knows it to be necessary in the case of Lord Drayton, a man guilty of terrible crimes against the Order. When Simon pronounces judgement and sentence on Drayton, he notices the man's supernatural calm over the matter. Only too late does he realize what is happening, and by then, he has been transformed into a unicorn. He flees, but Drayton sends his men after Simon. Since the only way to catch a unicorn is with a virgin, coerce the only one they can find, the plain, half witted Meg into being bait. Something about the unicorn touches Meg's fuzzy mind and heart. She helps it escape, and goes with Simon. When a drop of her blood and his mingle, Simon is freed, and is able to free her from the spell that cloaked her beauty, magic, and intelligence. For ten years, Meg has been locked in thrall to Drayton, with no memory. Now, she is free, and Simon wants to see the girl come into her own for Meg could be the most powerful Guardian ever. Yet, despite their freedom, mental chains still bind Meg to Drayton, threatening to pull her into the darkness again, and one moment of anger could turn Simon back into a beast. Though Meg can free him, and he can free her, since the spells might reactivate at any moment, they are forced into a marriage. This wouldn't be terrible if the key to Meg's power to help Simon didn't lie in her virginity. Until Drayton is stopped, neither can be free and the love they have begun to feel is something to be held at arm's length. ................... ***** Very few books that are different ever come along these days. This one is one of the very few, and is easily Ms. Putney's best book to date. For many reasons, Simon is a most unusual hero, a true white knight in direct contrast to Drayton, one of the most evil villains ever created. The way the author manages to emphasize the value of chastity, yet retain a sensual quality to the book is another mark of distinction that others would do well to copy. *****
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just when I thought that I couldn't find anymore unicorn novels, I pass by and find this one. This book is wonderful! Non-stop action, suspense and romance from the beginning all the way to the very last page. After I was done I wish I could be like Meg: warrior maiden, fierce and passionate. I really hope the author will create another unicorn book. This is a must read!!!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1748 England, the Guardian Council Chief Enforcer of the use of magic, Earl Simon Malmain travels to the castle of Lord Drayton to charge him with using his mage skills to abet the Jacobytes. Drayton remains relaxed considering who is unwanted guest is and coolly changes his foe into a unicorn; only a virgin can convert Simon back into a human. The evil magician boasts that having a unicorn will make him the most powerful person ever on the planet. However, Simon escapes from the castle though he remains in his mythological form. --- Simon the unicorn meets Drayton¿s servant ¿Mad Meggie¿, who is a virgin with a special skill with animals. She frees him from the spell and in turn he liberates her from an enchantment that left her under Drayton¿s control. They partner in an effort to stop Drayton, who wants to halt the Industrial Age from replacing the enlightened magical era. --- This is a terrific romantic fantasy that uses mid eighteenth century England as a backdrop to anchor the magical elements so that the audience believes in spells, unicorns, and the battle of the mages. The story line is action-packed yet insures the key three characters appear fully developed. The romantic subplot between Meg and Simon accentuate a fabulous tale that will send enchanted readers seeking A KISS OF FATE. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heavy in magic and romance but lite on the sex. Good character build up and setting. This is the first I've read by this author and I think I'll get some more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ScottishIrish More than 1 year ago
I also enjoyed reading this sample of Stolen Magic by Mary Jo Putney
BHogWild More than 1 year ago
Putney writes historical paranormal romance like no other. This is the sequel to Kiss of Fate. Easy and enjoyable.
MBV More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was thoroughly captivating and was enjoyable on many accounts. The characters are amiable and the villain is one that all can hate. While some aspects are predictable, there is a huge amount of suspense that keeps the reader yearning for more. A great book to add to the fantasy shelf.