Under a Christmas Spell
“ . . . a nice turnabout of two people acting as cupids for two who refuse to declare their interest in each other . . . and then comes the switch . . . ”
Though human, Valiant Oakenhurst is an incubus, with the ability to drive women into spasms of desire either through dreams or in person.
“He was stuck with his magical abilities—or at least they seemed magical when he tried to explain how they worked. Plenty of men and women were competent seducers, but few could plant images in the sleeping minds of their targets, rendering them helpless with desire. No wonder incubi and succubi had been seen as demons for centuries, but that was unfair.”
Lucille Beaulieu is a succubus, just as mortal as Val and with the same mysterious power. They’ve crossed paths before, during the Napoleonic Wars when they were on opposite sides of the fence and later, both spying for the English. Lovers, then enemies when Lucie betrays Val, they’ve never forgotten each other or the love neither would profess.
“She should know by now that she had no reason to fear him. He loved her and always would, whatever she was, whatever she’d done. If he’d been a true patriot, he would have killed her ages ago.”
Now they’ve both been given new assignments in peacetime. Without seducing her, Val is to awaken desire in Miss Southern, a modest young woman. Lucie is to do the same to Lord Westerly, a man who saw so much carnage during the war he’s withdrawn from society. Neither is given a reason why this much be done; they’re just told it has to be.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m not more at liberty to say than you are . . . but I had hoped to enjoy this English county Christmas. The holly and the ivy, the Yule log and the flaming pie.”
“You like all that nonsense?’
“Mais quoi . . . don’t you?”
“God, no. Can’t abide it.”
They begin their machinations. It’s easy for Val, all he has to do is walk into a room and women swoon, including Lucie. In fact, it seems as if the two are thwarted in their assignments as they appear to be intercepting each other’s dreams and desires.
“She would not allow herself to think about Val. She dreamed about him, though—tantalizing erotic dreams that left her sweating even in the chilly night, aching and unfulfilled. Were these the product of her own imagination, or had he sent them?”
Val is no less bothered at night.
“An incubus shouldn’t be so susceptible, shouldn’t care so much, but the fact remained that he’d fallen in love once and for all, and nothing would change that.”
Amid the Christmas cheer and English Noel traditions, it’s obvious Miss Southern and Lord Westerly aren’t the only ones meant for each other, but how to get a lovelorn succubus and a heart-wounded incubus to admit it. . . .
Though this Barbara Monajem regency novel dealing fully with a supernatural theme may not be considered a paranormal per se, having an incubus and a succubus as the main characters does lend it a bit more flare than usual. Both Val and Lucie are thoroughly likable characters, neither frightening nor wicked. Each is a person with unusual abilities unfortunately force into using them in way they wouldn’t ordinarily, to their dismay.
It’s an interesting turn when each begins to have erotic dreams and can’t decide whether it is simply their own thwarted feelings acting out or they’re receiving sensuous sensations from the other.
The entire story is a nice turnabout since it appears at the beginning it’s going to be of two supernaturally gifted people acting as cupids for two who refuse to declare their interest in each other . . . and then comes the switch and the story focuses on the cupids themselves.