Mesmerized by Candace Camp
The Mad Morelands, #1
December 26, 2017 (Reprint from 2003)
Favorite Quote: “You’re not-you’re one of the ‘mad Morelands’?”
“Yes! I am definitely one of the ‘mad Morelands.’ Indeed, I am probably the maddest of the lot. If I were you, I’d burn that card, lest some of it rub off on you.”
Reviewed by Tori
Olivia Moreland prides herself on discrediting charlatans, particularly the false mediums that flock to London. But when Lord Stephen St. Leger requests her help in investigating an alleged psychic’s claims, she can’t deny the ominous feeling she has within the walls of his ancient estate—or the intimately familiar connection she has with Stephen himself.
The last time he’d called Blackhope Hall home, Stephen had watched as his elder brother claimed both the family title and the woman he loved. Now, in the wake of his brother’s murder, Stephen has reluctantly returned to find his family ensconced in scandal. Who is responsible for his brother’s untimely death? And what is it about investigator Olivia Moreland that so thoroughly draws him in, igniting a passion he hasn’t felt in years?
Mesmerized is the first in what looks to be an amusing and energetic new series. Set in 19th century London, the Morelands are a family whose peculiarities fuel the ballroom gossip and earns them the moniker “the Mad Morelands.” This entertaining supernatural adventure comes with a haunted estate, demonic possession, reincarnation, mediums, madams, and a charming romance. Action, suspense, and intrigue go hand in hand as two lonely souls come together to stop a force from the past from destroying one family’s future.
Lighthearted with plenty of wit and charm, Camp introduces our couple to one another with a meet-cute that sets the stage for what is to come. Lady Olivia Moreland despises frauds, especially those of the supernatural variety. She starts an investigative agency in order to debunk mediums and psychics. On assignment n night, she is accosted and accused when caught sneaking around during a seance. Upset she was outed, she hands her assailant her card only to be insulted by him.
Lord Stephen St. Legar did not mean to insult Lady Olivia; nor interrupt her investigation. He has recently just arrived in London from the wilds of America due to his older brother’s recent passing. He is delayed to discover his mother has become entangled with a medium. When she invites the medium to their family estate, Blackhope Hall, for an extended visit, Stephan bites the bullet and seeks out Olivia for her help.
As with all of Camp’s heroes and heroines, I was instantly smitten upon meeting Olivia and Stephan.Heavily character driven, Camp excels at building dynamic characters whose unique lives draws the reader’s in. Strongly built plotlines open the door to an exciting story that pits good against evil. An invigorating supernatural base only adds to the intrigue and suspense.
Stephan is a delightfully sexy alpha/beta mix with a generous heart, passionate nature, and quiet sense of honor. He left for America to seek his fortune when the woman he loved married his older brother. Eventually relieved he had not fallen for such a shallow woman, he was upset that his brother passed before they could mend their differences. In honor of his brother’s memory, he determined to make sure no one uses his brother’s death to gain fortune or fame from his family.
Olivia is a fun heroine who chooses to go her own way and lucky has a family who not only allows but encourages it. One of seven siblings, she is not one to hide behind her gender or social status when faced with difficult tasks. Olivia’s fear of her grandmother and her supposed second sight was what set Olivia on the oath she walks. Like Stephan, her loyalty, honor, and love for her family is boundless.
Olivia and Stephan’s romance begins slowly and intertwines with the main conflict. Neither of them were looking for a relationship nor the complications that can come with it. Their chemistry is a strong presence that blooms as the story reveals. Some delish steamy scenes solidify that this couple are falling for one another. No games are played nor are we inundated with overly dramatic misconstrued events. As they are not married and in the public eye, they have to be very careful in their exploration of their mutual interest, plus Olivia’s lack of self-confidence in the face of Stephan’s beautiful sister in law slows down their romance even more. There is a sweetness and innocence to their feelings that appealed to the reader.
A series of supernatural events is the building block of this story. As the storyline progresses, we learn the true extent of what is happening. Flashing between the past and the present, Camp keeps readers on edge as she slowly reveals the villain(s) and their agenda. While Camp crosses boundaries and lands firmly in the fantastical, we aren’t left feeling manipulated or duped.
Mesmerized is a delightful start to a new series and I will enjoy reading more about the ‘mad Morelands’ and the romantic adventures that come their way.
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