Mistress by Magick
Publisher: Harlequin, Carina Press (2014)
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Alejandro Angelo de Zamorra—better known as Lord Calyx, the captain of the pirate ship Arcangel—is the Scourge of the Spanish Main.  The other captains in the Spanish Armada resent and distrust him, and not only because his mother is English.  His charge to lead the Spanish attack against Tudor England, under the orders of the royally appointed timid “Admiral of the Ocean Sea,” doesn’t sit well with him. But Calyx is a pirate, a mercenary who sells his sword and his ship to the highest bidder.

The daredevil captain of the Arcangel, known for his amorous diversions, has more than the English to fight. Control of his ship is challenged by the conservative Spanish dons in his ship’s hold and, to his confoundment, in his own quarters—where he is outmaneuvered by the mysterious beauty his crew considers his latest mistress.

His “mistress” is none other than the enticing Comtesse Jayne Boleyn, banished from court and country by her own cousin, the jealous Tudor Queen. Queen Elizabeth has taken Jayne’s son and given his wardship to her own favorite, Lord Robert Dudley. Jayne is coerced into infiltrating Spanish King Phillip’s royal court—and his royal Armada—as a spy in exchange for her son’s safety.

Mistress by Magick, the concluding volume in Laura Navarre’s Magick Trilogy, captivated me from the beginning with its intriguing story line, along with Navarre’s lush writing style that makes every scene come vividly alive. She deftly interweaves the suspense of the impending Spanish invasion, the intrigue of two royal courts, the fantasy elements of fallen angels and the Fae, and deliciously pure seduction in this riveting tale of rivaling powers, deceit, and passion.

And as if that wasn’t enough to tantalize her readers, Navarre’s cast of characters makes for a fascinating read.  Jayne has Fairie magick she can barely control, a legacy of her Boleyn heritage; Mordred of Camelot has returned from beyond the grave to reclaim his throne as the Faerie King, in secret accord with Spanish King Philip; Behometh—the captain’s black cat—has an uncanny ability to be everywhere and nowhere; lucky Lord Calyx charts his stars and reads omens; Arthurian legend is given a new twist—with fallen angels and the Nephilim thrown into the mix; and the fate of England is threatened.

I was conflicted between the desire to languish in the smartly coy interplay and romantic liaisons between Calyx and Jayne, or sink into the sumptuous descriptions of the era, or turn the pages faster as Navarre deftly builds the tension around the impending battle that looms on the horizon.

One would almost think these are too many story lines to weave together, but Navarre deftly does so with aplomb. She also navigates her way around sailing ships enough to please this diehard Patrick O’Brien fan.  Laura Navarre is a wonderful story teller who takes romance novels to a new level with her diligent historical research that enhances her stories. Her romance novels are a secret pleasure for those—do I dare say—who consider themselves not the typical romance novel readers.

Make no mistake about it, the Magick Trilogy series are not YA novels. You may want to have your own Venetian lace fan close at hand when devouring these rapturously delicious books.

“They were captor and captive, Spanish and English, ruthless pirate and reluctant spy….There was only tonight. Then they were enemies once more.”