The rules of magic create a community of their own. The always adept Mary Jo Putney brings us a darkly atmospheric and moody tale in her second Guardians novel, A Distant Magic. Jean Macrae, the daughter of a Guardian, has traveled to Marseille for a wedding, where she is kidnapped by a tortured pirate, Nikolai, who claims to have made a blood oath against her father for a long-ago crime of betrayal. Jean is herself of Guardian blood, though she finds magic painful to use, and yet that magic tells her that the haunted and bitter Nikolai might be vulnerable to the love of the right woman. Written in Putney's elegant style, A Distant Magic is a highly romantic fantasy novel woven with multicultural chords and sharpened with commentary about slavery and the slave trade. Barbara Samuel has written more than 30 novels. She blogs regularly about books, food and travel at www.awriterafoot.com.

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