Title: Enchanting the Beast
Author: Kathryne Kennedy
Genre: Historical/Paranormal Romance
Series: The Relics of Merlin (Book #3)
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
ISBN-10: 1402269889 (Sourcebooks)
ISBN-13: 978-1402269882 (Sourcebooks)
Reviewed by: Kelly
Dark Things Lurk in Grimspell Castle Sir Nicodemus Wulfson is haunted by memories of murder—and ghosts. He brings in a ghost-hunter in the form of celebrated spiritualist Lady Philomena Radcliff, and promptly, all hell breaks loose. Is Philomena a threat to his already suffering family? Or can Nico trust his burgeoning attraction to her?
Is it Him She Should Fear? Lady Philomena has resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood performing séances for the aristocracy—until she meets sexy young werewolf Sir Nico. She agrees to try ridding his castle of its increasingly restless spirits. But there are more mysteries within Grimspell Castle than even Nico is aware of, and when a local girl turns up dead, Phil wonders if she’s risking her life as well as her heart.
Quick & Dirty: Enchanting the Beast is an interesting and highly enjoyable combination of fantasy, mystery and paranormal romance. Despite being the third book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone thanks to Kennedy’s exceptional worldbuilding.
Opening Sentence: Lady Philomena Radcliff closed her eyes and called to the spirit of the late Lord Stanhope.
Lady Philomena Radcliff’s ability to both see and speak with the dead does little for her social life, but it pays the bills. Hired to perform séances at lavish parties hosted by the most elite magical families in London, Phil isn’t above using parlor tricks to make her clients happy and keep the invitations – and money – rolling in. After all, though her gift is very real, it’s not like communicating with the dearly departed is an exact science. Not every ghost responds to Phil’s requests, while others respond more…enthusiastically…than she likes. Luckily, she has a spirit-guide named Tup and a shape-shifting orphan named Sarah to help her when things get dangerous. Too bad neither Tup nor Sarah can protect her from an instant attraction to Sir Nicodemus Wulfson, the much younger baronet of Grimspell Castle – and her new client.
As a shape-shifter, Nico is immune to the nobility’s magic and can see through the illusion created by any spell. His first encounter with the older, but still lively and beautiful, ghost-hunter leaves him skeptical of both her abilities and the existence of ghosts, but Nico is desperate. His ailing brother, Royden, is convinced that something has angered the ghosts of Grimspell Castle. Nico hopes Phil’s presence will be enough to put Royden’s fears to rest and help him recover his health.
The ghosts aren’t the only things haunting Grimspell though. Turns out that something murdered Nico’s former fiancée, something that eyewitnesses describe as a giant black wolf. The fact that Nico’s wolf-form is brown doesn’t stop the townspeople from coming for his blood when another local girl turns up dead though. Declaring his innocence and leading the hunt to bring the real killer to justice, Nico also sets out to prove to Phil that his deepening feelings aren’t fleeting. When a chance encounter convinces Phil that the murders are tied to the haunting at Grimspell Castle, she races to find the proof she needs to save Nico and his family from a fate worse than death.
The magical world Kennedy created for Enchanting the Beast is unlike anything I’ve read before. Basically, Merlin is the trunk of the magical family tree that became English nobility. The hierarchy and titles corresponds with the magical Merlin gift an offspring inherits: Kings and Queens are those who’ve inherited the most of Merlin’s magical capabilities and can perform comprehensive magical feats whereas Dukes have only inherited the ability to change matter and so on.
At the bottom of the magical barrel are the baronets, shape-shifters that are both man and animal. While they are considered Merlin’s greatest enchantment, baronets are immune to all other forms of magic – making them both feared and despised by the majority of their magical cousins. That is, until it was discovered that the baronets were the only ones capable of finding the thirteen magical relics Merlin hid before pulling a disappearing act. The fact that the relics held power beyond anything that anyone had inherited made them the Holy Grail for noblemen (and women) looking to up their position in the world and baronets suddenly found themselves in a position of power. Which is how Nico, a baronet, is also the lord of a large estate bestowed on his family by Prince Albert as payment for their magic-sniffing services.
That said, this story would’ve received a high rating even if the magical elements weren’t so unique thanks to the seriously smokin’ romance and Sherlock Holmes-esque mystery. Nico is literally the ultimate alpha male and his pursuit of Phil is nothing less than swoon-worthy. Phil’s “live and let live” attitude made her a very likeable character and I certainly became invested in her happiness – something that wasn’t a given because of the mystery surrounding the haunting at Grimspell Castle. Honestly, I had some inkling of who was behind both the murders and why the castle ghosts were up in arms, but the connection between the two actually surprised me.
Overall, this story really impressed me and I don’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys a paranormal mystery with some heat.
“Sir Nicodemus.” Her voice was low, so husky with promise that he didn’t dare breathe. “I would like to forget, for just a moment, that I am forty and you are seven and twenty. I would like to be kissed in the moonlight, with straw in my hair and hayfairies dancing over fields of waving grass. Do you think you could retract your promise to be a gentleman?”
Nico let out a breath.
“Just for this moment, of course,” she added.
Of course. Nico put his hand under her chin and stroked the firm line of her jaw with his thumb. He gently turned her face toward him, the wolf retreating so that he felt an unusual warmth flow through him as he lowered his mouth to hers. Her lips tasted sweet; she smelled of crushed hay and roses. Nico stroked his lips over hers, her mouth trembling beneath his. Something twisted inside his chest and he kept his touch light, his mouth relaxed and undemanding. He couldn’t remember ever bestowing such a tender kiss upon someone. He had never wanted to.
The Relics of Merlin Series:
FTC Advisory: Sourcebooks Casablanca provided me with a copy of Enchanting the Beast. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.