A disappointed artist moves to a Welsh cottage where she gets entangled in an ancient love story involving Merlin, the magician of Arthurian legend.
Brackston (The Silver Witch, 2015, etc.) weaves together the past and present in her latest historical paranormal romance. In hopes that a more relaxed lifestyle will help her conceive, Laura Matthews purchases a cottage in Wales. While her husband spends the week working in London, Laura expects to spend her days painting. Instead, she gets distracted by handsome neighbor Rhys and legends saying Merlin once roamed the hills and fell in love with a local woman. In a parallel plotline, Brackston flashes back in time to tell the tale of Merlin and his ladylove, Megan, a maid for Lord Geraint. Merlin and Lord Geraint become enemies, yet it's Megan who is caught between them. Past and present converge when Laura runs into a mysterious stranger who looks very much like the Merlin of legend. At times, Brackston’s writing sings: “the distant hills stood softly, their edges blurred.” Mostly it screeches: Laura “downed a thirsty swig.” While the plot trots along at a brisk pace, the characters are pallid and their emotions ring hollow. Characters fall in love and into bed without much rhyme or reason. Laura’s grief over her infertility comes across as trite rather than real. Readers will enjoy the glorious Welsh scenery Brackston brings to life, but the rest of the story does little to arouse compassion or even curiosity.
Brackston has all the ingredients for a perfect tale—romance, magic, and mystery—but the final result does not satisfy.