In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules…
Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.
Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.
But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks…and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.
To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.
I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. Kyyyyyyaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!
But seriously, this book is almost everything I love mashed together and it works! Oftentimes I find that when I encounter a book where it has elements I like and I think ‘oh my gosh, I’m gonna love this, it’s like someone asked me what my favorite things were and then wrote a book about them’…well, I think sometimes I get too hyped and end up disappointed. Womp womp.
Anyway. Back to this book. It’s world-building light in that there isn’t a ton of details about the world, but the world-building is extremely important to the story. The stuff that we do find out is that it’s sort of an alternate history where women are in charge of all the politics because of Boadicea and something to do with a treaty with the Fae. Men do all the magic. So there are definite gender roles but they are far outside of what we’re used to. Also the women compromise the men instead of vice-versa. Like, if a woman and man get caught together the man is compromised. The women propose marriage. It’s…different, and I love it. It took me by surprise but after getting used to it, I have to say I was delighted by this concept.
So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the story. This is essentially a fantasy romance and it’s done in such a familiar way and yet it’s also flipped. I love it. One of the essentials of any romance is to have great characters that you like and want to see get together, and Stephanie Burgis does a fantastic job with that. Cassandra is a breath of fresh air. I love that she’s stubborn and unconventional even in her world. I love that she wants to protect the man she loves! I also appreciate that Wrexham , her love interest, isn’t an alphahole. You don’t know how much I appreciate that. Seriously. He just wants to love her and let her be herself.
If there is one tiny nit-pick it’s that I wish she hadn’t used the whole non-communication trope. If only they had talked to each other to begin with they could have worked everything out so much sooner! Of course, that would have, perhaps, made for a very dull story. Or maybe not because there’s also a whole plot revolving around the Fae and the renewal of the treaty. So there was other stuff going on besides the relationship for sure.
I have to say, I loved Cassandra’s struggle. Even in a world where women’s roles are quite powerful, she’s still confined to that role. The point here is that gender roles are dumb and people should be allowed to choose. Hurrah! 4.5/5 stars.