The Enchantment by Pam Binder
(Sonnet, $6.50, PG) ISBN 0-7434-1794-1
***
Conor MacCloud spent eight years fighting in the Crusades, only to return home to find that his dastardly Uncle Simon has taken over his family castle and lands. With the people of Inverness being held prisoner by their fear, Conor is unable to raise an army to wrest control away from him. His only remaining option is to honor a dying friend’s request - find the legendary Peacemaker, who will restore harmony to the land.

Eilan Dougan has spent a lifetime in isolation, due to her ability to sense others’ thoughts. However, when her parents decide to go on vacation, Eilan agrees to return home to Seattle to baby-sit their antique shop. Nicknamed Peacemaker by her college friends, Eilan gets more than she bargained for when a blood-stained, kilt-wearing, sword-wielding Highlander seemingly drops from the sky.

The Enchantment is an interesting story that has some problems, the main being the slow moving first half. Conor has just returned from the Crusades, and there’s a villain residing in the family castle - one would think that would mean battle scenes, intrigue and war games. Not really. The first half of the book is devoted to Conor in modern day Seattle, and his convincing Eilan to return with him to 14th century Scotland. Outside of some interesting one-liners made by Eilan and her friend, Dede, and Conor’s introduction to pizza, there’s not a lot going on here to hold a reader’s interest.

Things heat up when the author moves her characters back to 1310, but cracks in the romance begin to show. For one thing, there isn’t much in the way of sexual tension. Conor and Eilan seem to fall into their relationship, with little build-up and an abbreviated “getting to know you” stage. What they do learn about each other during this time, largely takes place off-stage, which I found frustrating.

What normally would have classified a 2-heart book for me, The Enchantment shows such promise in parts that I found the story a fast read. The author can turn a phrase, and I found myself chuckling often. I highlighted gems like “It must be something in a man’s DNA, as regardless of the century, automobiles seemed to hold a fascination for the male of the species” and “She wondered how long it would be before he discovered the hypnotic appeal of sports.” There’s also a really grand scene involving a secondary character’s roll in the castle’s dungeon.

Binder has come up with an interesting premise, and even though I found the romance slightly lacking, I did enjoy all of her characters. A pleasant and quick read, The Enchantment may be just the ticket for readers who like heroines with mystical powers and hunky heroes wearing kilts.

--Wendy Crutcher


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