Top critical review
not quite historical romance, not quite witch-flavored exploration of women's power
Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2021
3.5 stars, actually
So this one is billed as a historical romance on Amazon and it indeed has some of the outward trappings of a historical romance; an impoverished marquess, an american heiress who wants to breed horses, a initial meeting that doesn't go well, and the required HEA.
However, those trappings are a glaze on a cake of a story mostly detailing how two cousin witches pound herbs, clip nails, drop drips of blood into wax to wield their family magic on men in the story.
So going into this book, if it was a historical novel about all that witch history and a deeper exploration into the ways the Bishop family magic can be used for good or ill, and seen the workings of that magic become a method of self-actualization in a time when women were more or less owned by men, that would have been awesome. However, the book's stance on using magic to influence men is very preachy---and then inconsistent in my opinion. The "good" cousin witch Harriet condemns the "bad" cousin Frances for using magic to gain the affections of a man, but then turns around and does a similar thing herself for her niece, Annis. So...wasn't sure the message really was conveyed in the character arc/plot.
Or if I went into the book believing all the trope indications of historical romance, and then the book lingered on the actual repartee and emotional connection between the marquess and Annis, that would have been awesome too. There is 0 level of steam, the book spends more time on Annis and the marquesses' mother's relationship in terms of emotional attachment, and over relies on the magic for connection in the first place. The marquess' willingness to cross an ocean and marry Annis with or without her fortune is supposed to be "proof" he isn't influence by Frances' magic any more, but really I felt that result could easily be leftover magic so really, really missed the development of the relationship.
So I was left dissatisfied in the end due to the lack of actual historical romance relationship and somewhat contradictory approach to the potentially interesting exploration of morals as expressed by the Bishop women's access to powers in a usually stifling society. Ah well. So discovered this author not to my personal taste.