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Spellbinder: A Love Story With Magical Interruptions    by Melanie Rawn order for
by Melanie Rawn
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Holly McClure is content with her life and her profession. Her publishing success has helped her acquire friends and a great Manhattan apartment, and has given her the opportunity to travel the world doing research or participating in speaking engagements. But what most of her close friends don't know is that Holly is a witch, part of an elite New York population of witches and wizards who answer to the local Magistrate, Judge Elias Sutton Bradshaw. Holly's coven keeps close tabs on her safety, given the fact that she's a spellbinder - a few drops of her blood have the power to strengthen any spell or ritual, either for white or dark magic. Despite this constant danger, Holly is determined to live her life without constantly looking over her shoulder.

Because her past boyfriends were more interested in her bank account than her, Holly has decided to keep her success (not to mention the fact that she's a witch) a secret from federal marshal Evan Lachlan, with whom she's fallen head over heels in love. But when a Satanist named Noel begins recruiting followers, and then learns of Holly's special gift, it's no time for secrets. And though Evan manages to get his head around the fact that Holly is a witch, the proud marshal isn't happy that his ladylove chose to keep him in the dark about other aspects of her life. Her decisions eventually strain their relationship. But when Noel begins targeting her friends and then the man she realizes she cannot live without, Holly must choose which path to embrace or lose Evan forever.

Melanie Rawn is best known for epic fantasies, including the Dragon Prince and Exiles series. After a long hiatus, she returns with her first paranormal romance. Rawn has created an intriguing blend of magic and deeply emotional relationship romance in Spellbinder. Holly and Evan's intense attraction, coupled with their equally intense dedication to their own beliefs and professions, leads to an often troubled and volatile relationship. Rawn does a fine job with Holly's background, her motivations and her life decisions, but Evan's choices weren't always as convincing and at one critical point in the story, they seemed more of a plot device than anything else.

Even so, Spellbinder is a spellbinding read, a story that's packed with rich characterizations and a depth of emotion that isn't generally found in current paranormal romance offerings. Rawn also does a great job in presenting her secondary characters, particularly Holly's very protective uncles, Nick and Alec. There is no mention of a sequel, but I'd love to see Holly and Evan and a few other cast members return in at least one more adventure.

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