Book Review: Mesmerized by Candace Camp
Olivia Moreland investigates psychic phenomena in order to debunk them. So when Stephen St. Leger invites her to his country estate in order to discredit a so-called ‘medium’ who has her claws into his mother, and strange phenomena begin to occur, Olivia and Stephen have to band together to try and find out what is behind the disturbances. They also have to contend with Pamela, the conniving widow of Stephen’s older brother, who seems determined to get her hooks into Stephen now he is the holder of the title.
I really liked both Olivia and Stephen, and I enjoyed the clever way supernatural phenomena were used to combine a historical tragedy with present-day happenings. The explanation of how charlatans conducted their ‘magic’ tricks in the Victorian era was really intriguing and I’d have enjoyed reading more.
However, I had a couple of major issues with the story. Since the book is set in 1876, Pamela couldn’t marry Stephen because the Marriage Act of 1835 declared void any marriage which occurred with the ‘proscribed degree of consanguinity’. This included marrying the widow of one’s brother. So Pamela’s attempts to lure Stephen were completely pointless. This law was not repealed until 1921, and frankly I find it inconceivable that Stephen wouldn’t have simply stated to Pamela’s face that any relationship between them was impossible not only because of his feelings, but because it was actually illegal. I can only assume that the author is not aware of this fact.
In addition, on one occasion Olivia uses the word ‘gotten’ in dialogue. While this word is, contrary to popular belief, of Old English origins, by the late 18th century it had fallen out of use in the UK and would never have been used by an Englishwoman in the Victorian era.
Frankly, I expect better from an author of Candace Camp’s standing, and of her editors at Harlequin’s historical division. Though I enjoyed the read, any historical purist would feel just as frustrated at such errors as I did. Three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.