Friday, August 24, 2007

A Distant Magic (Book #84)

A Distant Magic (Mary Jo Putney, 2007) is part romance, part fantasy, and part history lesson about the 18th century British abolition movement. It's an unwieldy combination at times, but it's also much more ambitious in theme and scope than your average romance novel. I noted that several of the Amazon reviews it's gotten so far complain that it's not escapist enough, that they don't want sermons about the evils of slavery or politics in their romance novels. I suppose I might be something of an oddity among romance readers, but to me a love story becomes MORE compelling when the hero and heroine care about something larger than themselves and have a cause beyond sorting out their feelings for each other. This isn't my favorite of Putney's books--I thought the timeline-hopping element made it a bit disjointed. But so many of the romances I've tried lately and set aside unfinished have felt claustrophobic in their narrow focus on the hero and heroine, with the historical setting nothing more than an excuse for the glamor of pretty dresses and a hero who's a duke or earl. And that doesn't work for me, because the literary escape I crave isn't glitz and glamor--it's adventure, and sometimes the idea that a person like me could make a real difference in the world. A DISTANT MAGIC delivers my kind of escape.

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