Stolen Magic

Stolen Magic

by M. J. Putney

Hardcover(Large Print)

$32.95
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Overview

“M. J. Putney has created true magic. . . . Romantic and lyrical, this tale will fill your reading time with pleasure.”—Catherine Asaro, author of The Misted Cliffs

Simon Malmain, the Earl of Falconer, enforces the law for the Guardians, humans with magical powers derived from nature. A routine mission to confront a rogue Guardian turns disastrous when Simon’s quarry, Lord Drayton, captures his pursuer in a transformation spell. Aid arrives in the form of Meg, a fey young woman who has also been ensorcelled by Drayton. Bound by the need for each other’s magic, Simon and Meg join forces to defeat the evil Guardian—and in the process unleash the more ancient magic of passion. But even their combined power may not be enough to stave off Drayton’s diabolical plans. Only a desperate act of love may win back the future—or destroy all they hold dear.

Praise for Stolen Magic

“Putney’s fully imagined magical system, combined with Georgian detail, is a terrific setting for a tale of intrigue and danger.”Booklist (boxed and starred review)

“A fast-paced, irresistible read with a powerful ending. Each page is more enjoyable than the last.”The Huntsville Times

“Delightful . . . enchants from beginning to end.”—Elizabeth Haydon, author of the Symphony of Ages series

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786278732
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 08/28/2005
Series: Thorndike Core Series
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 9.08(h) x 1.26(d)

About the Author

A lifelong reader of science fiction and fantasy, M. J. Putney can still quote Robert Heinlein with no encouragement whatsoever. A graduate of Syracuse University with degrees in eighteenth-century literature and industrial design, she followed a peripatetic path to success as a writer. Now a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author, Putney has been a nine-time finalist in the Romance Writers of America RITA contests and has won two RITAs for her historical novels. Her books have been listed four times by the American Library Association among the top five romances of the year. The chance with Stolen Magic to combine fantasy with her love of history and romance is an example of real-life magic in action.

Read an Excerpt

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Stolen Magic 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 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
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Putney was on the Romance recommendation list I read through for One Perfect Rose. Among romance novelists, I found her one of the better ones, but placed against fantasy novels, I didn't have high expectations when I also found her on a fantasy recommendation list. There was certainly nothing particularly original in the magical system or plot or the way she used the setting in Georgian England. The prose style is decent with just a tinge of purple. I did like the hero, Simon, who first meets Meg, the heroine, when he's trapped in a unicorn's body. I liked Meg too, even if she's a bit Mary Sue. I did fast get tired of the harping on how precious her virginity was, and Simon losing it whenever he "took advantage" by heavy petting and reverting to a unicorn. It was one such transformation on page 251, where something so eye-rolling happened, I just gave up. Definitely not an author I'll be trying again.
icedtea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Starts off with a bang. The unicorn angle seemed a bit cheezy at times, but I enjoyed it anyway. I liked the magical element, and read the rest of the Guardian books after this.
CathyLeming on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The hero is a unicorn! Well, sometimes he's a unicorn. Meg is one of MJP's sensible heroines. She suits Simon well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started wonderful changed quickly to a mystery thriller then to a romance novel, all in all read smoothly, characters well defined and easy to follow within the context of the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great writer, good historical story, sweet romance, and a little magic. One of my favorites.
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
ONE OF MY FAVORITES. VERY EXCITING AND SUSPENSEFUL. I NOW DREAM OF A UNICORNS.
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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.