The Would-be Witch - Rita Boucher A mainstay on my traditional Regency rereads list. I pull this one out about once a year to get reacquainted with the Wodesbys.

Miranda Wilton has grown up in a world of magic - true, ancient magic. Her family, the Wodesbys, is one of the oldest in England. They are direct descendants of Merlin and have served as advisors to royalty for generations. Although children who carry the Blood (i.e., those of magical heritage) are promised to others of the Blood from birth, Miranda, at 28, remains unwed. Why? She carries the Blood, but any powers that may have manifested in her have been dormant since birth. As such, no family of the Blood wants to risk marrying their son to Miranda, who they fear might produce children who are also "lacking" as she is. Although they are an ancient and noble name, the Wodesbys have always carried the air of mysticism, and those of the ton (and not of magical heritage), while respectful of the Wodesby's lineage, have no desire to ally themselves with the family. Thus, Miranda carries all of the burden of her ancient name - the whispers, the rumors, the tales of sorcery - while enjoying none of the wondrous magical benefits.

Lord Adam Brand watched his father empty the family coffers in his search for evidence of the hereafter and signs of his beloved wife after her death. Now, having replenished the family fortunes upon assuming the marquessdom after his father's death, Adam has made it his life's mission to unveil the charlatans that purportedly practice "magic" for money and, in so doing, dupe gullible innocents like his father. When Adam encounters Miranda, her beauty and misguided (or so he believes) belief in the power of magic intrigue and challenge him. He is skeptical of this "magic," and when he hears Miranda proclaim with shame that she lacks any of these magical powers, he's taken aback that such a seemingly intelligent woman could believe in such nonsense. He doesn't understand how a woman of Miranda's birth and beauty can consider herself lacking in anything, to be honest. Through a series of events that begin with a tarot reading from Miranda's mother and include assistance from a feline familiar named Thorpe, Miranda and Adam are thrown together when Miranda's mother bestows the Wodesby's seal of protection upon Adam.

This novel is very well written and presents two seemingly opposite personalities that are brought together by circumstances, both magical and practical. With the aforementioned Thorpe, a giant mastiff named Angel, an otherworldly seance, gypsy Rom servants, and an appearance by the Mage of England (Miranda's brother, the H of the next book, Lord of Illusion) to add to the magical atmosphere, this book is not your typical traditional Regency. A secondary romance between Adam's uncle and Miranda's widowed mother adds a nice element of depth and counterpoint to Adam's resistance in believing in the magic in which his uncle (whom Adam respects) already so clearly believes.

It's unusual to have a traditional Regency that carries a paranormal element. This book does it quite well, and Boucher writes a well-plotted and moving tale of two complex souls finding each other in the midst of magical London.