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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jennivere’s Journey by Jean Hart Stewart

Jennivere’s Journey by Jean Hart Stewart
Publisher: Cerridwen Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short (114 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Book 3 in the Songs of the Mages series but may be tread as a stand-alone novel.

Lady Jennivere has inherited powers from Merlin and the Lady of the Lake. She heals with her unusual empathy and abilities, often absorbing some of her patient’s pain herself. Zach Rendell is a historian whose latest book is an exposé of charlatans who claim supernatural power. Jenny’s beauty thrills Zach, but he’s convinced she’s a fake.

Jenny wants to start a vineyard at her property near Dover. Zach is enthralled by Jenny’s intelligence but questions her claim of healing abilities. Yet every time he sees her caring success another chink in his armor falls away. He finally accepts her magical gifts, but now thinks he’s not good enough for such an empowered person. And Jenny can’t bring herself to tell him her own secret guilt and why she needs him so badly.

Both must give in order to secure their love. But are the lovers capable of so much?

Wine making and magic, skepticism and love all weave through this romantic tale of acceptance and revelation.

Jennivere is a healer and a compassionate woman who has some internal demons that plague her. She’s smart, clever, insightful and adores her family. She gives of herself and is an admirable character. She’s also so private that something that could have been avoided if only she confided in someone, anyone, is left to fester. It is something anyone can do and probably has done; imagination is worse than the reality and fear freezes the person because of it.

Zachary is a man of science. Love ends up opening his mind to other, magical possibilities, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have problems with it. In fact, accepting that there are powers that science cannot measure only makes him feel inadequate and for a man who feels like he should be in charge and feel needed only to find out he’s not is an icy revelation. It’s how he goes about remedying his personal issues that makes for interesting reading.

The author certainly knows her way around the wine making process. It’s an integral theme to the story because a lot of the action revolves around the process in one way or the other. The author was careful to keep it from being too dry and text-like by making her characters live the process thereby making it personal not instructional.

The secondary characters are mostly Jennivere’s family. They are a busy bunch and although I didn’t feel like I knew them because I’d not read any other books in the Songs of the Mages series, I felt this book stood alone well. Her twin, Gareth had enough spotlight for me to understand how important family is and how tight and loving and supportive they all are. When the emotional connection reaches across the words to the reader, it makes a good book even better.

I enjoyed this story, however, there were a few things that I felt didn’t ring true with Zachary. His propensity to want to hit or strike out at perceived haughtiness early on in the story made him sound immature and bullish. He’s a man of science therefore I’d expect him to be less…volatile. Especially when he never showed any alpha tendencies in my estimation. He’s a strong wonderful Beta type guy and a good balance for Jennivere. I found the dialogue a bit stilted at times but no less engaging.

All in all, I’d recommend this story to fans of the Arthurian legend because it’s sweet, it grasps the concept of magic and weaves it into recent history where the past is in flux with the burgeoning technological advancements of the time and the happily ever after is sentimental and satisfying. And even to the end point, Jennivere provides Zachary and the reader with a bit of cheek. A reader just knows that the hero will be kept on his toes by the heroine.