I became a fan of Jillian Hunter this past year. I recently read her books, "Daring" (excellent), "Abandon" (good), and "Seduction of an English Scoundrel" (very good) and now, "Deeper Magic". I really like her well developed characters, interesting plot lines and hints of magic, dreaming and other worldly things. Her books are creative and usually memorable. This book was written back in 1994 - all the others I mentioned above came after this one so...her writing craft was still being developed during "Deeper Magic".
The setting for this story was Scotland in the mid 1800's. A time when medicine slowly become modern and coming out of the dark period. Medicine was finally being based on research and development and not just old wives tales. Our hero Ian MacNeill was a doctor in search of the latest developments to benefit mankind. He was thoughtful, kind, intelligence, experimental and emotional. All the necessary things to be found in a man of medicine dedicated to saving and preserving lives.
Our heroine Margaret Rose was a hurt, disappointed and disillusioned young girl on the brink of womanhood when the two meet up the first time. Margaret is suffering long term from the loss of her mother and youngest brother in a water accident many years earlier and her father has never forgiven her for being involved in the tragedy. He sends her away to a remote island in her late teen years as he feels she is out of control and he cannot look at her without remembering the accident. Although she is his beloved child, she is also the child of tragedy. So...away she must go and she does. Margaret spends many years on the island and slowly becomes accepted by the locals, begins doing her own healing with herbs and plants with the help of the local old charmer Morag. Margaret does well in her healing as it involves items from nature, the art of learning and a dose of caring. She develops from an isolated child to a woman of warmth and kindness in a harsh land far away from the contemporary world.
Ian and Margaret meet up years later on the island when he is sent there to find her and bring her back and do work for the local people. They have some early antagonism as Margaret is set in her new ways and wants no part of her old life. Ian is a modern man with modern ideas and that clashes with the old ways of the island. Together they journey toward merging old and new ways to help keep people healthy and how to deal with the attraction they have always felt toward one another. The story has many side plots: is the ghost people Margaret sees and hear real, why do odd things happen around Margaret, who might be trying to hurt her, can their families accept the other, can Ian and Margaret finally get together even with outside influences affecting them and can they merge old and new ways to save lives.
This wasn't an adventuresome story or extremely passionate but, it was very appealing and entertaining. I liked how it seemed that Ian and Margaret were very different - he had a close and loving family/she had a cool, distant and awkward family after the tragedy, he was into modern medicine and modern ways/she was into traditional medicines and natural ways to cure, he was open, forthright and vocal in his feelings for Margaret early on as he believed in her/Margaret was closed, cool and withheld her feelings for a long time for Ian as she was afraid to take a risk and loose...and on and on the differences go but...in the long run, once they open up and learn to talk and trust one another, they merge the things that are in common and the things they differ upon. In the end, they find they have what is missing and so very necessary to complete the other.
There is of course an evil villain in the plot looking to hurt Margaret and break up her and Ian. Why and who...you'll have to buy and read the story yourself to find out who this might be The sinister side of the book was interesting as you never knew if what was happening was in Margaret's magical world or really happening in the real world.
This book has some scenes of intimacy but, they were light, casual and well written. They did not over power the story or plot line, rather they fit in where appropriate and enhanced the love that bloomed over time between Margaret and Ian. I especially liked that he recognized their connection early on and never fought it. Instead, he tried to cultivate and make it work and realized it would never be easy but, he cared enough to try. Margaret took longer to trust and believe due to her past but, even she, couldn't fight long term the inevitable attraction, joy and completeness she felt when she was with Ian.
If you have not tried this author yet, I recommend you do. She is well worth reading and adding to your romance library. I have four other books by her and I am looking forward to reading them. If the past is any indication, I will be well pleased. You should be too....