Please note that I gave this 3.5 stars and rounded it up to 4 stars here.
I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017: Rogue square.
I was tempted to just say slavery is bad and be done with this review, but no, I have to elaborate. Honestly this is not as bad as the first book in the Magic Trilogy, but it's still about a 3 out of 5 for me. Maybe because the whole slavery aspect of this book was so distasteful. At least this book introduces us to the hero in book # 3 (Rafael) who appears in "Moonspun Magic" who does not seem like a garbage person. We also get reappearances by Frances and Hawk (what she calls Phillip). Eh...they are not as terrible as they were in book #1. This also has another cousin romance which if I had to do it all over again, I would thrown in as a bingo, cause apparently this was something that happened a lot in historical romances.
Our heroine (Diana) comes to London to visit her family. She has grown up in the West Indies on a plantation (1813 timeframe I think) and so you know, there is going to be some discussion of slavery and is it wrong. Diana is in London looking to find a husband. I have to say that Diana's asides about England's weather and food was kind of hilarious. As someone who has only stayed in the country via airport I have zero opinions about the place.
Lyonel (or Lyon) who is Diana's cousin, seems to get into fights with Diana every-time he lays eyes on her. There is some throwing together of them in London due to Lyon's aunt forcing him to escort her to events. Of course there is some obvious match-making going on. Diana and Lyon eventually sail back to Diana's home where a murderer is on the loose.
I can say that the two leads work very well in this book. They have a lot of back and forths with each other, but I didn't get outright hatred/antagonism that I usually get with Coulter's heroines/heroes. And the love scenes were great. We get one that takes place on a deserted island (don't ask) that just worked for this book.
The secondary characters in this one are also in some cases pretty transparent about motives. I loved Lyon's aunt. She appears in the third book and I loved the resolution of this character. Apparently interfering relatives is a theme in this trilogy.
We also get the reappearance of Frances and Hawk and I am just as shocked as you are that I liked them together. I don't want to spoil for potential readers, but we get to see them at least I think two years into their marriage. I think the timeframes are a little messed up when I went back to book #1 and read book #2. And then I tried to do a flowchart and said forget it.
There is a murderer running about Diana's home back in the West Indies, and I pinged them correctly when I was a teenager and of course walked in knowing who it was now as an adult. This is not an Agatha Christie novel, so there are really only one or two people who could be guilty.
I would say that the romance aspect was fine/good levels, but throwing in a murder was just weird. So the book felt like it switched on me mid-stream. The writing was okay, and the flow also worked.
The setting of 1800s England of course leaves one with very little options to talk about slavery that doesn't make the hero/heroine look like monsters. However, that Coulter did what she could to make the whole slavery thing less appalling, but that was the only thing that seemed to not feel realistic to me.