From the enchanting world of Kathryne Kennedy comes the long-awaited new installment in her bestselling Relics of Merlin serieswhere the magic never dies.
Power Magic is Afoot
Millicent Pantere has lived her entire life in the notorious London Underground. She cares nothing for the problems of the crown or the intrigues of society. But the ladies of the realm are acting strangely, and Millicent is coerced into tracking down the rumors of a mysterious mana magic man who comes in the night and disappears at dawn.
And So the Hunt Begins
Millicent's search leads her to one of Merlin's legendary relics and the seductive knight whose fate is bound up with it. Centuries ago, Sir Gareth Solimere made the mistake of seducing the wrong woman, and he has been trapped ever since by a diabolical curse. He's looking for the one who can break the enchantmentbut in this world, there is no love without betrayal...
Praise for the Relics of Merlin series:
"Kennedy will sweep you away and into a world of magic, mayhem, and fractured love."Night Owl Romance Reviewer Top Pick, 4 1/2 stars
"Enchanting! This series is amazing, and I am completely hooked."The Long and Short of It Reviews
About the Author
Kathryne Kennedy is a critically acclaimed, bestselling, award-winning author of magical romances. She welcomes readers to visit her website where she has ongoing contests at www.kathrynekennedy.com. She's lived in Guam, Okinawa, and several states in the U.S., and currently lives with her wonderful family in Glendale, Arizona.
Read an Excerpt
Where magic has never died...
The Duke of Ghoulston's coach rocked to a stop in front of Buckingham Palace and Millicent Pantere growled low in her throat. A throng of finely dressed lords and ladies made their way beneath magical shimmering arches of color into the massive double doors of the palace to young Queen Victoria's ball.
"I don't belong here," murmured Millicent as anger curled through her belly. Why couldn't the duke have ordered her to fight a legion of ogres armed to the teeth? Now that she could have managed with relish. But no, he had to send her up against the cold eyes and knowing whispers of the nobility. As if she had any hope of fooling them into thinking she was a lady.
The door of the coach flew open and the duke's footman leered in at her. "Time for the ball, Cinderella."
Millicent's low growl turned into a snarl. She had the satisfaction of seeing the footman blink with fear before the duke spoke from the seat across from her.
"You'd best behave yourself," he remarked, those black eyes glittering even in the shadows. "We've doused you with perfume but we can't be sure it will entirely hide your scent from the other shape-shifters. You animals have such gifted noses."
Millicent tried to take a deep breath but her new corset stopped her halfway. The blasted thing crackled whenever she moved, the fabric stiff against her back and belly, the whalebone inserts lacking the suppleness of age and wear. When she gathered her brocade skirts together and exited the carriage, they felt just the same-stiff and unnatural. She suppressed the urge to kick at the horsehair petticoats when they threatened to trip her up as she stepped onto the glittering walkway. Instead she swept her gloved hands gently over the swell of fabric below her waist, adjusted the heavy satin cloak about her shoulders, and waited with feigned patience for the duke to join her.
The coach bounced upward as the duke stepped out. Time and rich food had robbed him of the handsomeness he must have possessed as a youth, but the powerful confidence he radiated almost made up for it. His sharp black eyes swept over her as he held out his arm. "You look lovely, my dear. See to it that all the months of preparation are not wasted tonight."
"It won't work," snapped Millicent as she took his arm with a forced smile, revealing the slightly long canines at the corners of her mouth. "You can't turn an animal into a lady in just a few months."
"You'd best make it work," murmured the Duke of Ghoulston as he squeezed her arm. "You have more to lose than I."
He swept her into the crowd on the walkway, his height a match to hers, only his top hat making him appear taller. Arches of brilliant, magical color towered over their heads, the flagstones glittered at their feet, and the walls of the palace reflected the enchanted light within their diamond-studded walls. Although she could look through the illusion if she tried, Millicent did not bother using her immunity to magical spells to do so. She might as well derive what enjoyment she could from her task.
She squinted against the glare. Even after months of living aboveground, she still couldn't get used to the abundance of light. The people up here appeared to be spoiled by sunshine, for even at night they had to light their streets and rooms too brightly with fire and magic.
They entered the doorway, gave up their coats to a footman, and made their way to the ballroom, lining up with the other guests as they waited for the young queen to appear. Millicent tried not to crane her neck upward and stare. The colored arcs continued into the ballroom and swept across the enormous ceiling, cascading down the walls in sapphire, crimson, and yellow. It reminded her of something she'd seen once, but she couldn't quite recall it.
"Rainbows," whispered the duke as he followed her gaze. "Surely you've seen a rainbow before?"
"Of course," she replied. Although sunshine didn't often penetrate to the depths of the Underground, she'd found an old complex of tunnels where shafts of sunlight filtered down the slimy brick walls, making a splay of color shimmer in the air. The magical rainbows that decorated the ballroom outrivaled those, however, even if they appeared to her only as a transparent illusion. "Do not think I'm impressed by your kind's magic. I'm immune to your tricks."
"Ah, but that's what makes you so useful, my dear." He bestowed a fleshy-lipped smile on her. "That, and your animal senses."
Millicent scowled. "It might not even be a relic," she whispered. "Merlin's relics are only a myth, after all."
"Are they?" replied the duke. "Take a look around. A good look."
Millicent blinked against the glare, but studied the room. They stood at the beginning of the line, among the upper nobility who possessed the highest titles and therefore, the most magic. At the end of the line stood the shape-shifters who were immune to magic. Most of them rivaled the other nobility with their physical beauty, but that wasn't what held her attention. The duke had told her that aboveground, the Master of the Hall of Mages-uncle to the queen-championed the baronets. If the Duke of Ghoulston thought Millicent could steal this relic he suspected was hidden here, it made sense that other baronets could sniff out a relic as well. Perhaps that explained their value to the Crown.
"Are there usually this many baronets at a ball?"
"Good girl. No, they detest society as much as we detest them."
Millicent's nostrils flared. Now that she knew their nature, she could catch the scent of the other weres, despite the smells of perfume and melted candle wax and fairylight dust. "Predators. All of them."
"They hunt, my dear."
She nodded. The Underground harbored many shape-shifters. But besides Bran, who could shape-shift to bear, they mostly consisted of jackals and hyenas and the like. Scavengers. She'd never seen so many akin to her. She smelled lions and tigers and leopards. Oh my.
Millicent frowned. "And you expect me to find this relic before they do?"
"You have an advantage, my dear. Me."
If he called her my dear one more time... Her anger stirred the beast inside her and Millicent counted beneath her breath to ten. By the last count the red haze had cleared, and she could think rationally again. She huffed out a breath. She should be grateful for the duke's arrogance, if it meant that she would succeed in her task.
The duke's gaze followed hers, and his bushy brows lowered as he stared at the group of shape-shifters. "If anything goes wrong, meet me back at my underground castle. Use the graveyard entrance I showed you."
"So you're not as confident as you pretend to be," scoffed Millicent.
The duke squeezed her arm painfully. "Do not, by any means, return to my mansion in Gargoyle Square. Do you understand?"
It took all of her willpower not to fling him across the room. "Don't worry. The beast of darkness will return to her lair."
He nodded in satisfaction, completely missing the sarcasm in her voice.
A hush descended over the guests and a diminutive woman entered the room. Millicent would never have guessed her to be the queen if her ladies and advisors hadn't surrounded her. Queen Victoria slowly went down the line of nobility, stopping occasionally to speak to an honored few. By the time she reached the Duke of Ghoulston, Millicent's muscles had tightened like a bowstring within her costume. She would never be able to fool the Queen of England into thinking she was a lady.
"Ah, Lord Ghoulston," said the queen, holding out her hand. "Did you ride today?" Her blue eyes looked at him owlishly. The queen had an innocent gaiety that made Millicent feel much older than her one-and-twenty years. And tarnished by comparison.
The duke swept his fleshy lips just above the surface of her lace glove and straightened. "Yes, Your Majesty."
"How did you find the weather?"
"Er, quite fine."
"That's good. I also went riding... and who is this lovely lady?"
Millicent kept the bland smile on her face by sheer force of will.
"The cousin of a cousin," replied the duke. "Up from the country to experience the delights of London."
Millicent remembered to curtsy. She managed it without falling over and with only a slight pinch from her corset, rising with a grin of relief.
"I see." The queen leaned toward her conspiratorially. Millicent bent down, embarrassed by her height for the first time in her life. "The gigot sleeves are quite out, you know."
Millicent had no idea what the queen meant. She glanced at her puffy sleeves, seeing little difference in the queen's own, except for a narrowing at the shoulders. She struggled for a response. "Thank you for the advice, Your Majesty."
The queen smiled beatifically and moved down the line. Before Millicent had the chance to comprehend that the queen had actually thought she was a lady, and had spoken to her as one, a real lady stepped in front of them. "Willie. What a pleasure to see you."
Millicent smothered her smile at the lady's use of the duke's first name. She wondered how many people managed to get away with the impertinence, and took an instant liking to the other woman.
"Lady Yardley," crowed the duke. "You look as elegant as ever. May I introduce you to Lady Millicent?" He lowered his voice. "She's just up from the country and this is her first soiree."
The woman turned and gave Millicent the full force of her smile. Despite the past several months of training to transform her into a true lady, Millicent now could see the real definition of one. Lady Yardley's auburn hair had been curled at the sides of her head and formed into an elegant knot at the top-with not a single strand loose about her face, unlike Millicent's own straggling coiffure of inky black hair. The woman's soft hazel eyes spoke of sophistication, while Millicent's own amber gaze glittered with the hardness of surviving in a cruel world. The lady's calm demeanor commanded respect, something Millicent could never hope to imitate.
The duke scowled at Millicent and she remembered to curtsy again. He gave Lady Yardley a look that apologized for the ill grace of a country bumpkin. "Millicent, my dear. May I introduce Lady Yardley, Lady of the Bedchamber to the queen, and daughter to the Earl of Sothby?"
"How do you do?" mumbled Millicent.
The duke's ploy of passing Millicent off as a country lass appeared to work. Lady Yardley's eyes softened with sympathy and she held out her arm. "This must all appear very grand to you, I'm sure. Just remember that half is magic and the other half self-delusion."
Millicent smiled uncertainly and stared in alarm at the lady's silk-gloved hand. What under-the-earth was she supposed to do with it?
Lady Yardley solved the dilemma by curling her arm under Millicent's. "Allow me to introduce you, dear girl. Your striking looks are sure to cause a stir and I shall be ever so grateful to be in the thick of it. You don't mind, do you, Willie?"
"As you wish, Lady Yardley," mumbled the duke as he gave Millicent a triumphant wink.
Millicent allowed the lady to escort her through the press of people. She feared that the duke might be a tad too confident. Just because he'd managed to pair her with the cream of society didn't mean the lady had fallen for their ruse. She expected her companion to halt at any moment and denounce her for an imposter.
Instead she found herself introduced to one gentleman after another, until they had a trail of handsome young men following in their wake. Not only did they accept her as a lady but not one of them suspected her were-nature. And fortunately Lady Yardley didn't introduce her to any baronets, who would surely be able to sniff out her secrets.
Millicent began to relax. To her surprise, she began to enjoy herself.
When the orchestra struck up a tune, Millicent declined one dance invitation after another, even though she gave the rainbow-draped floor more than one wistful glance. She'd just been taught the steps to waltz a few weeks ago and didn't trust herself not to stomp upon her partner's feet. Besides, she didn't want to draw any further attention to herself. Lady Yardley appeared to be doing a bloody good job of that already.
"You are breaking hearts right and left," laughed the lady. "Don't you wish to dance, Lady Millicent?"
"Please, call me Millicent," she replied. She'd always hated the title of lady, since it lacked an estate to make it meaningful. And in general, people had no use for titles in the Underground.
"Then you must call me Claire."
"Well, Claire, I'm afraid I'm only used to country tunes."
"Of course, I should have realized. Still, it's been such fun being the center of attention. But you don't appear to enjoy that either, do you? As your new friend in London, I'm determined to make your first ball memorable. You'll have to give me a clue as to how I might manage to accomplish that."
Millicent felt dismayed by Claire's declaration of friendship. And then she reminded herself that Lady Yardley's friendship could only be as real as Millicent's own charade. She had best concentrate on her task so she could go back to where she belonged.
She glanced around and noticed that two baronets had their gazes locked on her from across the room. A solid chap with a mane of golden hair and a scarred face studied her with a confused frown. The other shape-shifter tossed a thatch of orange-streaked hair off his forehead and stared at her with an angry, almost hungry gaze. They started to move in her direction.
"I should very much like to meet Lady Chatterly," blurted Millicent. The duke had told her that rumors had the relic in the possession of Lady Chatterly, and although Millicent had hoped to eventually meet her, she feared that she now didn't have the time for a chance encounter.
Lady Yardley's elegantly arched brows rose in surprise, and then she giggled. "Oh, my. I should have known. She is rumored to be rather fast, isn't she? I imagine her reputation would shock... and fascinate you, yes?"
Millicent lowered her lashes. "You won't tell His Grace about my request, will you? I'm afraid he wouldn't understand."
"Why, Willie has-" The woman gave a delicate cough. "No, of course not. I shan't breathe a word of it to him."
"Oh, thank you." Millicent looked over her shoulder. Two pairs of predatory eyes blinked back at her. She suppressed the growl that threatened to shoot up her throat and turned back to her companion. "I'm most eager to meet the, er, famous lady. Shall we?"
Instead of taking offense at Millicent's tug on her arm, Claire laughed and pulled in the opposite direction. "She's this way. And don't think I didn't catch that little stumble. I think notorious would be a more likely description than famous." She breezed right past the two baronets, who glared at Millicent and spun to follow them.
The crowd parted easily for Lady Yardley. Not so for the baronets, and they soon lost the men in the press of people. Millicent breathed a sigh of relief. And then she realized the direction Claire had taken.
Millicent ducked her head as they pressed through a group of baronets. She hardly dared to breathe. She had intended to escape only two, and now Lady Yardley had dragged her into a pack of them.
"That's a charming dress," said Claire, eyeing Millicent's brocade gown, chatting gaily away, as if being surrounded by predators didn't matter to her one whit. "Where in London did you find a seamstress who can craft such skillful rosettes?"
Surely her companion knew that baronets had the strength to rip them to shreds? Millicent could barely focus on a reply, while every hair on the back of her neck stood upright with alarm. She had no idea where the dress had come from. But she'd learned that when in doubt, a half-truth is better than an outright lie. "His Grace provided me with a wardrobe. He said my country clothing would put him to shame."
"Hmph. Well, he was probably right. Willie has always had impeccable good taste. I think that's why I admire him so-you certainly aren't blocking my way, are you, sir?"
A large man with a hawkish nose stood in front of Lady Yardley, his enormous liquid eyes fixed on Millicent. He bowed aside at her companion's words but not before he shot Millicent a look of raptorial hunger. Ordinarily a bird of prey wouldn't frighten her. But a shifter's were-form could be larger than their human form. Did Claire truly not know what type of creature she brushed aside? Or did her status as a lady provide her with such confident security?
Millicent didn't have such protection.
Her companion finally tugged her into the space between the shape-shifters and another cluster of aristocratic gentlemen. Millicent took a deep breath and refused to turn around and look into the eyes of all the weres that burned holes in the back of her neck. She'd noticed several female baronets among them, but apparently the aristocracy knew of their natures and they also weren't allowed to penetrate their group.
But the gentlemen parted for Lady Yardley and her companion. The Duke of Ghoulston had been right. Millicent's anonymity provided her access.
The heightened senses of her were-nature allowed her to overhear the comments of the aristocrats as she passed.
"Here come two more ladies."
"Hush. I'm trying to hear what they're saying."
"Well, I'd jolly well give my best horse to know what they're hiding," said his fellow loudly.
Lady Yardley's mouth curled into a secretive smile.
"Haven't you heard? Lord Dunwist told me that his wife has been acting strange lately. Ever since she made friends with Lady Chatterly, she's been as demanding as his mistress."
"Good gawd, man, that's preposterous! Ladies should behave according to their station."
"I hear there's some sort of powerful magic involved."
"Damn it, man. I say we should do something about this."
But they didn't appear to know precisely what that might be, because as Millicent passed through their group to where a circle of ladies stood, not a one of the top hats made a move to follow them. A tall woman with iridescent strix feathers in her hair glanced up and smiled. The circle of women opened to let them in, their wide skirts smashing back together as they closed the gap behind them.
"Lady Chatterly," said Claire. "How good to see you again."
The feathers trembled. "We were just about to retire to the salon. It seems that we have attracted some attention." Her clear gray eyes focused on Millicent. "And who have we here?"
"Allow me to introduce you to Lady Millicent. She's from the country."
Millicent blinked innocently at the notorious lady, who bestowed an anticipatory smile upon her. "She may join us, since you vouch for her, Lady Yardley. It should be... amusing to have her amongst us."
With a sweep of her skirts, Lady Chatterly made for a door set near a golden urn at the bottom of one of the rainbows. The other ladies followed, their gowns looking like so many silk flowers clustered in a bouquet. Millicent snuck a glance behind them as she passed through the door into the salon. The group of curious gentlemen followed, and the shape-shifters watched with angry, hooded eyes.
The last lady through the door firmly closed it behind her, drawing the bolt with a resounding snap.
The room had been decorated years ago, rather garishly, with portraits of the royal family in huge gilt frames, heavy furniture of mauve and crimson, and silver candelabra stands in every corner. A fireplace large enough for Millicent to stand nearly upright in crackled with a merry blaze against the autumn chill.
Lady Chatterly enthroned herself on a chair set before a highly polished table. "Ladies, please sit down. I have much to tell you and I fear we have little time."
Millicent sat near the closest window, the cold seeping in around the panes and cooling her hot cheeks. Sunshine spoiled the dwellers aboveground in other ways, for they kept their rooms too warm for someone who had lived her entire life in the cold dank of the Underground. She watched the eager faces of the other ladies, hoping that whatever Lady Chatterly had to say would involve the relic. Claire took a seat close to Millicent, as if to protect her, which she found endearing.
"First," said Lady Chatterly, "we must strengthen the wards to keep the prying magic of our men from the room."
Millicent's heart skipped as several of the women clasped hands to perform a warding spell. She blew out a sigh of relief when several of the ladies just folded their hands in their lap. They must not have the title or the power to perform such a spell, and wouldn't think it amiss that Millicent didn't join in either.
She could see the magic forming as a slight haze, feel it prickle the skin on her arms, but otherwise the spell didn't affect her. It wouldn't affect the other weres in the ballroom either, so the doors and walls would have to suffice. Millicent hoped they were thick.
"Now then," said Lady Chatterly when they finished the spell. "There's a back exit across the room." She nodded toward the far wall. "And a carriage waiting for the one the relic will choose. As some of you already know, the only condition is that you tell no one the relic is in your possession, and you return it to me on the morrow. Are you newcomers clear on that?"
Several women nodded their heads, although a few looked frightened. Millicent mimicked the expression of fear while her mind calculated with truly frightening intensity. The duke had been right; the relic existed. These women had been harboring a dangerous secret. But why would Lady Chatterly allow other women to borrow such a powerful thing?
"You are so generous, my lady," breathed Millicent, trying to sound adoring instead of suspicious.
Lady Chatterly shrugged. "I made a promise." She didn't elaborate on her explanation and Millicent resisted the urge to press. Besides, what did it matter, when it only made it easier for her to get her hands on the relic?
Instead Millicent worried about what the woman meant when she said the relic would choose one of the ladies. She would have to follow the woman somehow, catch her alone or asleep in order to steal the thing. At least she had a significant advantage over the other shape-shifters still in the ballroom. She would know which of the women had the relic. She studied the ladies around her, some old, some just barely out of the schoolroom.
Lady Yardley leaned forward, her hazel eyes bright with reflected candlelight. "He's real then?"
"Of course." Lady Chatterly gave her a dreamy smile. Several other women nodded just as dreamily with her. "Quite real, I assure you."
"And how will the relic choose?" persisted Claire. "Really, darling, you must quit being so mysterious and give us more information. There are too many of us innocents here tonight."
The feathers in Lady Chatterly's hair swayed with her nod. She removed her gloves and then set her reticule on the shiny surface of the table. The fidgeting of the younger girls ceased as they all stared at the embroidered silk bag. An expectant silence fell, only the muffled strains of the music from the ballroom disturbing it.
Lady Chatterly loosened the drawstring and removed an exquisite ivory fan, a gold-embossed dancing card, and a silver filigree perfume box. Silk swished and corsets strained as the ladies leaned closer for a better look. With a dramatic flourish, the lady dug something out from the very bottom of the bag, set it on the table, and swept everything else aside.
Some of the ladies sighed with disappointment, but Millicent's heart skipped. It looked old. Old enough to be a true relic. A solid band of dull silver with a round stone set in the center. The blue-gray shimmer of the jewel hypnotized her for a moment; the wink of the fire reflected in the depths made her heart twist with something she couldn't define. "What is that gem?"
"A moonstone," murmured Lady Yardley. "A common enough jewel, although I've never seen one with quite so much translucence."
"Each of you will try it on. Like so." Lady Chatterly slipped the large band easily over her hand and up her arm. "I know it looks rather big, but if you're chosen, it will tighten to a snug fit." She stared at the relic for a moment, then sighed in disappointment as it fell off her wrist. "Well, one can still hope."
"What do you mean?" asked a rather matronly woman.
Lady Chatterly answered the question in a roundabout way. "He will come to you at midnight and disappear with the dawn. He won't appear twice to the same woman, so there's no use in keeping the relic longer." Her gray eyes glittered as her voice lowered to a husky whisper. "He will make your every desire come true. And some that you didn't even know you had."
"Who?" demanded Lady Yardley.
"His name is Gareth Solimere and he wears the clothing of a knight of the Round Table... yes, as in King Arthur. He has been trapped in the relic for a long time."
Questions spun around inside Millicent's head. She could see her questions mirrored on the faces of the others, but Lady Chatterly held up her hand to forgo them. "Trust me, they are not important. Once you look into his brown eyes, run your fingers through his ebony hair, feel the touch of his lips upon yours..."
Giggles and gasps followed her words but Lady Chatterly seemed lost in rapturous memory. Millicent rolled her eyes in disgust. So that's what all these women were in such a twitter about? A man? Her mother had taught her about men. Enough to know to stay away from them.
She fought the urge to stomp from the room.
One of the youngest girls-her cheeks a bright pink-had the temerity to say, "What did he do to you?"
"Aah. Shall I make my reputation even more notorious?" Lady Chatterly asked herself rather loudly.
"Is it possible?" countered Claire with a laugh.
"Certainly." Those pale gray eyes sparkled in challenge and her feathers danced a jig on her head. "I thought I knew myself. I have been married, after all."
The few women who had kept themselves apart from the circle around the table suddenly drew closer. The room had been fraught with tension since they entered. Now the walls fairly vibrated. Even Millicent couldn't resist the urge to lean forward expectantly.
Lady Chatterly's voice lowered to a mere whisper. "He knew exactly how to ignite my passion. He knew how naughty I've been..."
Her hand flew to her breast as her breath quickened. "He slowly removed my clothing piece by piece..."
A handful of the younger girls, and a few of the older, swooned.
"...and he spanked me soundly."
Skirts flew up right and left as several of the ladies fainted. Millicent reflexively rose to catch someone but couldn't decide whom and froze in indecision. Lady Yardley blinked at her in surprise. Millicent's were-nature allowed her to move faster than an ordinary human, so it was probably just as well she had frozen before fully betraying her true nature. She gave Claire a weak smile and slowly sat back down.
"I stand corrected," said Lady Yardley as she pulled smelling salts out of her reticule and handed them to another woman to administer to the fallen. "Your reputation is now even more notorious, Lady Chatterly."
The matron who had spoken earlier gave an elegant snort, then quickly slipped off her gloves, pushed back the voluminous sleeves of her black gown, and held out her arm. Lady Chatterly gave her a knowing grin and slipped the band of silver over the woman's knobby-knuckled hand up to her wrist. Then easily pulled it off again.
"Maybe next time," murmured Lady Chatterly in sympathy before trying it on another woman. And then another.
Millicent's heart started to pound and she felt a little faint while the lady drew closer as the relic failed to tighten around anyone's wrist. Bloody corset. It didn't allow one to breathe properly. Of course they would expect her to try it on.
Lady Chatterly suddenly stood next to her, tapped her slippered foot impatiently while Millicent carefully removed her gloves. The lady thrust the bracelet at her. The cold metal touched her fingers and Millicent suppressed a shudder. She had nothing to fear. It wouldn't choose her... she had no use for any man. Besides, her immunity to magic meant it couldn't cast a spell on her. Although hadn't Lady Chatterly assured them that the bracelet, and the man trapped within, were as real as the chair she sat upon? Then she would be just as vulnerable as any of these other women.
But the last thing she would ever desire in her life would be a man. No, she was nothing like these other women.
When the metal warmed and tightened around her wrist, it took every ounce of willpower Millicent had to suppress a choking snarl. Magic might be making the bracelet shrink, but the metal felt wholly of this earth, and her immunity to magic would not help. She wanted the relic for the duke, but not this way! She tried to push the bracelet off, but it would no longer fit back over her hand.
"Ah, the country girl," crowed Lady Chatterly. "Don't look so alarmed, dear. You wanted to gain some sophistication from a trip to London, and now you shall have more than you could have ever dreamed."
Millicent dug her fingers under the silver, trying to rip the thing off using the full strength of her were-self. Several of the women patted her shoulder in congratulations and then headed toward the door to the ballroom. Millicent turned and stared at Claire in horror.
"I didn't think... truly, I'm so sorry, Millicent."
"Nonsense," snapped Lady Chatterly. "You did her an enormous favor. The girl just doesn't know it yet. Now, come along. The ladies are anxious to get back to the ball and we must get you out of here before they open the door."
Millicent could only nod and follow. Her plan had been to steal the relic so she could give it to the duke. She had no desire to possess it herself. And she certainly didn't care a whit about the man trapped inside, or his ability to pleasure a woman.
Lady Chatterly led her into a dark hallway and handed Millicent over to a young footman who took her out into the night and ushered her into a black carriage. The horses snorted and stomped their way into the foggy streets of London while Millicent tried to reassure herself.
Lady Chatterly said the bracelet would stay on her wrist for only one night. So Millicent figured all she had to do was let this Gareth person know it had been a mistake for the relic to choose her, and then give it to the duke the next morning.
Surely it would be as easy as that.
And then the gem on the bracelet began to glow, and a man appeared across from her, and Millicent's mouth dropped open.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Trapped inside an ancient ring Sir Gareth Solimere can only find true freedom by finding his one true love. He uses his ability to seduce in the hopes he will find his escape. When his ring attaches itself to Millicent Patere, a were-panther, he discovers that he might like to stick around longer than a one night seduction...but an evil sorcerer has his sights on the power of the ring and will stop at nothing to control Solimere. Everlasting Enchantment is an interesting mix of the legend of Merlin, paranormal creatures and steamy seduction all blended into a historical romance. This original plot will send you to a new world beneath everyday society. Kennedy created a vivid, dark and beautiful world for us explore. I received this ARC copy of Everlasting Enchantment from SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication December 3, 2013. Written by: Kathryne Kennedy Series: The Relics of Merlin Sequence in Series: 4
Millicent has been blackmailed into finding this relic but she has no clue that the relic holds a cursed man inside of it. That is until the bracelet fastens itself onto her wrist and at dusk a man appears. Sir Gareth has been cursed to appear every night to the wearer of the bracelet in hopes that she’s his one true love thus breaking Merlin’s curse. However, Millicent has no desire to sleep with him and has ever intention of turning him and the relic he’s imprisoned in over to the man who is holding her friend captive. I came across the first book in the series a year ago when at a book sale. I really enjoyed the story but just never continued with the series. I was a little worried that I would feel lost picking back up at book #4 but the stories don’t really mix. These are all new characters that we read about and everything is explained as far as the magical world is concerned. So this can be read as a stand-alone or read in a series. It doesn’t really seem to make a difference. I haven’t read too many Merlin type books but I really enjoyed that there was quite a bit of mention of Merlin in this one. We get background information as to why Merlin made a relic and locked Sir Gereth into it. Personally, I felt like Merlin was justified in his decision… but that’s just me. The romance was slow building and sweet. At first Sir Gareth is just trying to seduce Millicent to try to break the curse but because she keeps refusing him, he gets to know her and finds himself falling in love with her. The two don’t start out being in love with each other and I think that’s what really drew me in. I loved that they actually built a relationship out of friendship instead of instantly falling into the sheets. This was a great book that had a mixture of historical and paranormal romance. It also had a bit of mystery since you weren’t quite sure what would happen to Sir Gareth when if the curse is broken. Does he become mortal at the age that he was cursed or will his age catch up to him leaving him in a pile of dust on the floor? This was definitely a well rounded entertaining read. I will have to go back and read the other books that I skipped in the series to see what else I’ve missed.
Full of magic, romance, and betrayal, Everlasting Enchantment was a wonderful read. I absolutely loved this romance! It was just lovely. Millicent was a tough heroine. She had a difficult life, and that made her very strong. She was definitely a survivor. Nothing the world threw at her could take her down. But, her past also made her wary of trusting others. And, while I understood the reason, it did frustrate me that she was so staunchly opposed to a relationship with Gareth. Otherwise, though, I really liked her character. She was great. Gareth was just as amazing. He's seen a lot in his centuries of living, so absolutely nothing can shock him. He was strong and determined to break the curse so that he could live a normal life again. But, things are not exactly as they seem with the curse. And, when he had to make a choice between what he though he wanted and what he really wanted, he knew what to choose. He was very sweet and devoted to Millicent. I adored him. I thought he was perfect. The romance was sweet and steamy. Millicent and Gareth were a perfect match, though someone *cough* Millicent *cough* was in denial about that. They are both very strong and they definitely met their match in each other. And, the sparks between them were super hot. They were certainly well matched in that area as well ;) The plot was fast paced and I was hooked the entire way through. There were surprises, secrets, and betrayals that a never saw coming. Particularly the truth about Gareth's curse. That one was a shocker. I really enjoyed the story and I thought the ending was perfect. Everlasting Enchantment was a fantastic romance. I loved this book! The magic, the romance, the surprises. It was all perfect. Lovers of romance, this is a book you definitely need to read. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Great story and very imaginative! Well executed, wonderful characters and both tender and sizzling hot sex scenes.
Kathryne Kennedy's latest book in the Relics of Merlin series, Everlasting Enchantment has been a long time coming and fans of this eclectic series are ready to see where Kennedy will take them. Kennedy's world building skills are among the best in this cross between fantasy and paranormal romance. It is definitely a genre-bender as it is set during the reign of young Queen Victoria and uses the London underground as a backdrop for the action and adventure that makes up this novel. Kennedy fans will relish her knack for time and setting as much as her ability to create meaningful love scenes and tender moments. A great addition to a good fantasy series. What I liked: I liked the fact that Kennedy doesn't give us a straight up paranormal romance or a high fantasy title, which she is known for. She gives readers a very unique mix between the two in Everlasting Enchantment. You have paranormal characters like the heroine who a panther shifter, you also have historical figures like Queen Victoria and the magical realm that is very reminiscent of high fantasy. I liked Millicent a lot. She was a heroine that has had a hard go of it. She is orphaned and used to relying on only herself and her abilities to get her though anything. She isn't very trusting and she doesn't believe in doing anything that doesn't lend itself toward her own preservation. Kennedy shows a lot of skill at character development as she begins to break down Millicent's walls and allows her become vulnerable and ready for love. Gareth is kind of a confusing character for me. He has been imprisoned in a relic by Merlin for seducing his lover, but yet he comes off with such a chivalrous and kind character. A knight of the round table, we know he is gallant and serves others before himself. But as seen in times past, the knights are still human and Gareth is certainly not oblivious to the fact that he must seduce the right woman in order to break the curse. I liked the fact that Kennedy shows Gareth's growth as well. At first all he cares about is getting Millicent to sleep with him in order to break the curse but in the end he begins to think more about her than about freeing himself. These two make a great team and a great couple. Their relationship is not without it's problems but it develops in just the right way. They become friends before anything else. Each of them must make some hard decisions that affect each other and the way Kennedy resolves thing is very enjoyable and surprising. That curse is a little more devious than meets the eye. What I didn't like: The bad guy was a ruthless duke who coerces Millicent to steal the relic and he holds her friend as ransom. As bad guys goes he was a little predictable but that doesn't take away from the overall enjoyment of the story. He was just one of those people that you know is a bad, but he doesn't steal the show. He sort of lingers in the background a bit and other elements overshadow him. Bottom Line: This was a very good long awaited book. It had so many different elements in it, that it will appeal to a wide range of readers. I miss Kennedy's fantasy edge a little bit, but it does surface enough in this one to make me want to read any succeeding books in the series. The time of Arthur and his knights, of Merlin and real magic, is quite well represented and I think there is a lot to like about this one.