The second book in the Chattan Curse series, The Scottish Witch focuses on Harry Chattan, who is desperate to find a cure for the sickness which has overtaken his brother. Two hundred years ago, the Chattan family was cursed when Charles Chattan broke his handfasting to a Scottish girl called Rose. When Rose killed herself, her mother Fenella cursed the family forever; whenever a Chattan man fell in love, they would die shortly thereafter, after getting a wife pregnant with yet another Chattan male. Harry’s brother has fallen in love with his wife, and as a result, Harry searches for a way to cure his illness. While in the small village of Glenfinnan, where the curse originated, Harry meets Portia Maclean, a woman who is decidedly not a witch but has enchanted him nonetheless.
Portia is a twenty seven year old spinster, firmly on the shelf; she doesn’t mind that as much as she minds being responsible for her family. They’re behind on rent, her mother is determined to stop her sister marrying for love, and Portia hasn’t been admired in far too long. When she discovers that Harry is willing to pay to find a cure, and coincidentally finds a book of spells with the name “Fenella” written inside, she can’t resist the opportunity to pay rent and buy financial security for a short time by pretending to be Fenella. But Portia hasn’t counted on the way she might feel towards Harry herself; not as a witch, but as a lonely woman.
The premise to this book was intriguing; Harry and Portia are thrown together because of a spell that really doesn’t have much to do with either of them, given it’s hundreds of years previous to the book’s events. Once they meet, though, it’s fairly clear that they are a great match, and the book follows their story in a fairly logical and enjoyable progression as they try to resist the curse but, of course, end up falling in love anyway. This is, after all, a romance novel.
While I didn’t completely fall head-over-heels in love with it, the book was a good solid read. I appreciated that Portia was a spinster, not a diamond of the first water or anything of the like, although Harry’s wastrel reputation is really not evident in this particular book at all. There is also quite a humorous interlude with Portia’s mother and an adoring military man who learns that the key to a woman’s heart is to ask her questions and actually make conversation with her – who would have thought! It adds up to a charming way to spend a few hours in the afternoon.
One note; I didn’t realise that it was the middle book of a trilogy and that the curse would continue through this book and into the next. This means that, even though this book has a traditional happy-ever-after with the couple ending up together, we don’t get a resolution to the curse plotline. That lack of a solid ending was really the only downside to a story that was otherwise romantic with a touch of magic.
The Scottish Witch is appropriately released today on October 30th, the day before Halloween, so if you’re looking for magic that isn’t scary, this could be the romance choice for you. The magic element is very light, so if you’ve enjoyed Maxwell’s romances before, don’t let it put you off, either. Recommended for romance readers.
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