Susan Sizemore's A KIND OF MAGIC, a time travel romance going back to Medieval Scotland, is a romance more likely to appeal to paranormal romance readers as opposed to Medieval enthusiasts. The first part of the book delights with its humor and time shift but a simplistic dichotomy between the characters and time periods results from a lack of development of her themes and characters. The depiction of the Middle Ages is highly stereotypical and frustrating to readers who appreciate the time period but the author's development of the magical elements is quite well written.
Engineer Maddie McCullough takes a plane trip to meet her childhood heart throb Toby Coltrane. Intelligent and witty, she harbors insecurities about herself as a woman due to her lack of success in romance. Once a tomboy, Maddie is lonely and ready for adventure---but is she ready for the adventure that awaits her? Her mother convinces her that Toby and a trip to Glasgow is her last chance to tell Toby what she feels. When on the same plane, her friend Kevin transports a rare archaeological find to the University of Glasgow for metallurgical tests, Maddie cannot resist trying on this beautiful necklace. The rare artifact seems to possess some kind of magic, or is it a curse, because the plane crashes, transporting Maddie back to the 13th century Scottish Highlands.
When a strange magical light blazes in the sky near Laird Rowan Murray's land, he turns to help from the White Lady of Glenshael, a woman with the gift of seeing the future. Before telling him his fate, she makes him promise to do as she says. Reluctant, Rowan finally agrees to marry the first woman whom he meets on the road. Rowan will do anything to secure the welfare of his clan, including magic and spells, if they provide usefulness. Even plotting with Aidan to fix the promise to his desire fails and Rowan's marriage choice seems destined as magic and time travel bring him a woman who challenges him again and again.
When Maddie and Rowan come face to face, their two cultures collide. Susan Sizemore's time travel creates multiple laughs and smiles as Maddie, not yet aware of the time difference, seeks to understand her new surroundings. The Medieval setting challenges her as her engineering background and modern technological devices collide head on with the lack of fax machines, cell phones, etc. Forced to rely on herself and her own intelligence, Maddie opens up herself on a more primal level, exposing her heart and body to a kind of romance that reaches deeper within that the external trappings. Rowan, used to being in charge as a powerful laird must learn to trust her, loving her for mind as well as her body as her engineering gifts can bring new life. Susan Sizemore pits woman against man, science against magic, modern times against the barbaric Dark Ages in a tale that brings two unlikely lovers together.
Paranormal lovers will appreciate the fine nuanced details of this romance as magic transverses two time periods. Every detail is finely constructed, creating a vision of magic that intrigues. Unfortunately, the portrayal of the Medieval setting rarely goes beyond the barbaric Dark Ages, a term coined by Renaissance poet Petrarch as a contrast and criticism of earlier times as compared to the Renaissance's discovery of classical literature. For readers like myself who chose this romance for the medieval setting as well as the paranormal elements, the continued stereotypical description of this time period as barbaric grates on the nerves. Furthermore, it flattens Rowan's character. A little bit more research into the time period or a bit more glance at the beauty of Rowan's world through Maddie's eyes would have made this an awesome romance for paranormal and Medieval lovers alike. As it is, A KIND OF MAGIC is a romance with a tough, intelligent heroine and an intriguing look at magic and science together through an intriguing prism of time travel. As a lover of both paranormal romance and anything medieval, I would encourage the author to enter the Medieval world with a bit more imagination and research because A KIND OF MAGIC shows a potential to be able to draw in many different kinds of romance readers in future Medieval set time travel romances. Although I did not enjoy this particular romance based on the depiction of the Middle Ages and the resulting lack of possible character depth, I will definitely be watching for this author's future releases. This book is just so close to being an awesome romance and I think it is only her not fully developed vision of the time period as seen through Rowan's eyes and Maddie's transformed eyes that seems to miss for me. As a medievalist, I did not enjoy this romance and yet at the same time, certain very well written parts marked her on my list of authors to watch because I feel she has great potential in terms of Medieval time travel romance.