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Touch of Night    by Susan Spencer Paul order for
Touch of Night
by Susan Spencer Paul
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Niclas Seymour was once considered one of the most eligible bachelors in London. But after a long absence from the public eye, the Ton has written him off; indeed some are even calling him mad. If only it were that simple: Niclas cannot reveal the true reason for his extended absence from polite society; 'mere mortals' would never understand. The Seymours, along with a handful of other European families, are descended from a long line of magically inclined ancestors. Niclas's particular gift is the ability to sense the thoughts and emotions of others. The Families abide by strict Laws of Magic, one of which says that 'if blood is shed by magic done' then the offender will be placed under a curse.

Niclas was cursed after causing the death of his best friend. Since that fateful night, he has not slept and his mind is forever bombarded by the thoughts of all around him. He must shun humanity or go mad. His only hope of lifting the curse involves performing a special deed for a member of his best friend's family. Miss Julia Linley, a distant relative of Niclas's deceased friend, needs an escort to accompany her to a relative's estate in Wales. Julia and other members of her family believe that their eccentric Aunt Alice is about to be finagled down the aisle by Niclas's scalawag of an uncle, who's fallen on hard times and needs to build up his coffers. Niclas has his doubts that this small deed will lift the curse, but he's more than ready to try. Once in Julia's calming presence he discovers that one touch of her hand stills the voices in his head. Julia too feels a growing bond toward Niclas, a man she has always loved from afar. Could he look past her self-perceived shortcomings and return her love? She is optimistic that their long journey will give them that chance. But when an old enemy strikes and threatens to expose Seymour family secrets, all may be lost.

Susan Spencer Paul has created an intriguing story that's evenly balanced between magic and romance. She has a real knack for creating wonderful characters. A few are mere mortals, like Julia. But the majority belong to the Spencer family, each with their particular magical talent. There are also plenty of 'family squabbles' and hi-jinks, many of which Niclas finds himself caught up in. These scenes add even more humour, but never detract from Niclas's quest to rid himself of his curse, nor from his and Julia's love story. Touch of Night is a wonderful first installment of what will surely be an engaging new paranormal series.

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