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Uncertain Magic

Hedgehog Inc Audiobook, December 2014
Avon Books, 1987
Sourcebooks Re-issue 5/2010
ISBN-10: 1402237022
ISBN-13: 978-1402237027

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Uncertain Magic

Cursed with the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her, Roderica is resigned to living without marriage or love. But when she finds one man’s thoughts closed to her, she takes her only chance on marriage with an enigmatic, impoverished lord, The Devil Earl, whose Irish estate is haunted by memories and faerie mists…

This is a romance with paranormal elements written before fantasy and paranormal was cool.  The sidhe (pronounced “shee”) that briefly appear in Uncertain Magic are of the traditional Irish type, powerful and enigmatic.

What would it really be like to know the minds of everyone around you?

If you’d like to see a bit of what it was like to be in the studio while Nicholas Boulton was recording, check out our video chat below. Uncertain Magic is also available as Print-On-Demand, a high-quality trade size paperback with the newly designed ebook and audiobook cover.

 

Discuss this book

Setting:

England and Ireland, 1790’s

Mascot Animal:

MacLassar the pig

Laura's Comment:

I think it’s safe to say that Uncertain Magic began my career on the “bleeding edge” of the romance genre. At least, as I recall, it was the first of my manuscripts that I was pretty reticent in describing to my editor. “A heroine who can read minds? Hmmm, I’d better prove I can pull this off before I mention that part!” This was long before paranormal romance of any kind, and highly unusual in the genre.  I didn’t do any world-building, though; I was more interested in the way her “talent” affected Roddy’s ability to live in the ordinary world. 

Of passing interest to authors and the critical reader: until the very end, the entire story is told solely from the heroine’s point-of-view. Initially, I chose this technique to emphasize Roddy’s inability to “read” Faelan’s mind, but after I completed the manuscript, I realized what a powerful narrative technique it can be. The Brontes excel at creating in-depth characterization from second- and third-hand points-of-view—did you realize when you finished Wuthering Heights that you’d never once been inside Heathcliff’s head? I’ll bet ya didn’t!

Recognition:

Romantic Times KISS Award for Outstanding Hero—1987

Laura's Fave Review:

“You won’t believe how real Kinsale makes the unbelievable probable.” —An Amazon reader

(Heh! LK)

Old Covers:

This is the lovely cover on the Sourcebooks trade-size re-issue.

Honestly?  They did better the first two times, see below.

I loved these metallic covers on Avon’s first re-issues of my early books, but I don’t seem to own one myself.

Ah, the Avon Ribbon Romance covers.  I have a great affection for these old classics!

Discuss this book

[1] Posted by laura kinsale on 01.08.2010

(Comments closed due to spam.  Feel free to email me or make contact on Twitter or Facebook.) All opinions are welcome, positive or negative, but civility and polite language are required for comments to remain.  Political or religious references are not allowed, unless directly related to the book under discussion. I do answer questions but I seldom give interpretations about my books or characters, because I enjoy hearing what readers see in them.  These comments and discussions replace my old forum at The Terrace. WARNING: Book discussions may contain spoilers.

[2] Posted by Susan on 01.16.2010

I should read this again before I comment, but what the heck.  I read this book after my first, Seize the Fire, and love it too.  I’m always torn when I find a new to me author, between feeling sorry I did not know about them before or so happy that they have a back list of books I can read right away.

My comment on this books is, I was a bit confused about how his torment was carried out.

[3] Posted by Laura on 01.21.2010

I’ve never seen the Avon cover for this book. When I bought it, it was a second free book that came with another book so bland I’ve completely forgotten it. The cover had no picture at all- it was white with just the title. I loaned it to a friend and it’s long since gone- but oh my! it launched my obsession with your books. Faelan was such a different hero; his love for Roddy, his horses and the loyalty for his only friend- a relationship that almost brings about his destruction was such a refreshing change from the muscle bound, laconic ruffians of other romance novels.

[4] Posted by Ninanais on 02.25.2010

Uncertain Magic was the first of your books that I read, and I loved it. It’s one of the only romances I actually collected in my library, and made me look out for your books ever since (They don’t seem to pop up very often in my part of the world). However, as much as I love Uncertain Magic, I felt as if the incredible story was spoiled a little bit at the end by the fact that someone was actually going around and tricking young maidens into killing themselves over Faelan. That just wasn’t credible (although Roddy’s mind reading ability was!)  I wish I could just remove those few paragraphs and it would be the world’s most perfect romance novel.

[5] Posted by laura kinsale on 02.25.2010

LOL well plotting was never my strong point.  I think I’ve gotten better but that was my second book and I found myself in deeper water at the end than I’d realized. ;)

[6] Posted by Rachel on 03.10.2010

The ending was a stretch for me too and my first reaction was to disregard it and focus instead on the fantastic book. But, with re-readings, it’s really grown on me. I just finished reading it again this morning (think for the 4th time) and now I find myself paying a lot of attention to the mom and trying to work out how her shenanigans could actually be accomplished. I mostly focus on the brilliant characterization but I now have a lot of fun with the mom’s bizarre behavior. The only thing I really can’t bear to spend anytime on is that animal business from when Faelan was in school. Gah! Mind blocks it.

ps
It’s not like I missed this line on all my other readings but for some reason this time I dissolved into giggles when I read, “But cow dung and crop rotations are so dull, you see. There’s not a stirring speech to be had among them.” If not for the psycho mom I think Faelan would have been a happy, goofy farmer.

pps
There’s a beautiful, gray Thoroughbred where I board named Faelan.

[7] Posted by Cristina on 04.07.2010

Dear Laura
in each and everyone of your books I found something enchanting: a scene, a sentence, a person.I love Roddy end Faelan, this book is more perfect for my. I call them this way, persons, because rarely characters have been introduced to readers with such deep humanity. Never perfect, but great inside and able to live, to mistake, to survive and to became better for those they love.
This looking for themselves of the characters, that proceeds with the plot, is what fascinates me the most in your works. For me, dear Laura, you are a role model.
I thank you for giving me the occasion to reflect on life, for gladdened me, for touching me and being with me in sad and happy times of my exsistence. Having you with me has been as pleasant as having a friend you can count on. When a novel becomes a friend of yours, who wrote it must be a special person indeed.
Thanks again

Cristina

ps finalmente siamo riusciti a leggere il tuo libro stupendo in italiano ^_^

[8] Posted by laura kinsale on 04.07.2010

Cristina, that is one of the loveliest comments I’ve received.  Thank you.

[9] Posted by Monica on 04.23.2010

Laura - I am in the middle of explaining why I feel “Uncertain Magic” is a classic for my MFA program.  This will be my third read through of your book, and I can’t keep Roddy and Faelan out of my head they are seem so real to me.  Perhaps it is because they are so flawed yet the perfect mates to heal each other.  Your scenes at the jewelers and chocolatuer are some of my favorites.  How can a man who oohs and ahhs over pastries be the devil?  I read your comment about world building, and I have to tell you that the images of Ireland you brought to me through your details linger still.  I can see the sea, and the rolling green hills, the dry hard ground that Roddy digs in with her ever loyal MacLasser by her side.  It worked for me.  The way you weave the legends of fairies and time lost in the magical hills through your words and descriptions are magic themselves.  Thank you for this. As I finished the book, I too felt a bit at a loss as to what his mother had done, but it made enough of an impression on me that the last time I read this story I was able to explain to my husband “who dunnit” and why. It may have been vague, but where your words ended my imagination took off:) I have been struggling with POV in my own writing, and I think it was clever of you to reveal Faelan’s thoughts at the end. It made what his mother and uncle had done to him very believeable. It was a nice touch.  The only remorse I have is that I wanted to see Roddy and Faelan finally at peace and living in their renovated estate perhaps celebrating a ball on November Eve. Call me a dreamer.  I love your writing Laura. Keep them coming. You’re an inspiration!

[10] Posted by laura kinsale on 04.27.2010

Thank you Monica! Uncertain Magic was my second novel, and I learned a lot about using point of view from that book.  (For instance, how powerful it can be to stay out of an important character’s head—it took writing Uncertain Magic to make me notice that.)  Good luck with your writing and your degree!

[11] Posted by Nancy on 06.16.2010

Wow, I’m so happy to find this form of communication.  I discovered you in Diana Gabaldon’s list of favorite authors and am so pleased.  My favorites so far have been “Lessons in French” which was amazing and so funny, and recently “Flowers from the Storm” which almost had me in tears.  You’re great, keep up the good work.

[12] Posted by laura kinsale on 06.17.2010

Thank you, Nancy!  I appreciate it!

[13] Posted by Nancy B. on 07.02.2010

Dear LK:

Will this book be available as an ebook?

[14] Posted by laura kinsale on 07.05.2010

I thought it was, Nancy, but I can’t find it in a quick search.  I’m on the road right now but I’ll look into this when I get back.

[15] Posted by Annabel Joseph on 07.11.2010

With this book, the plot did get difficult for me to follow at the end, but to be honest, I don’t care because I love the rest of the book so much. :-)

The beginning is especially spectacular. I fell in love with Faelen and Roddy there in the stables over the situation with the racehorse and from there I would have followed them anywhere. I am a real sucker for the dark, elegant tortured hero.

Oh, and…their wedding night…oh man. Hot and very well written scene!!

[16] Posted by laura kinsale on 07.11.2010

I’m glad this book seems to hold up so well (at least most of it!) after all this time.  Thank you Annabel!

[17] Posted by Angelique on 08.03.2010

Okay, so I just finished this bokk and I have to admit I had no idea what was going on. I was actually glad it was the mother cuz thats who I pinned it on after the first scene of endless babbling. It was like she was afraid to stop talking because then someone would figure it out. What a nasty person. Awesome!
I loved the description of land. I would have liked to see them working on their land again but the story was lovely. I wish people still loved that way…sigh.
I seem to be going backwards in reading your books, and Ive enjoy all of them, but nothing comes close to FFTS.

[18] Posted by Angelique on 08.03.2010

ps…the pig was so adorable I want one of my own!

[19] Posted by laura kinsale on 08.04.2010

The pig was fun to write.  Glad you enjoyed him, Angelique.

[20] Posted by Denise on 12.10.2010

Ms. Kinsale,
I am halfway thru the book, and I have to say that I really loved your character development of Roddy and Faelen.  I could really feel the emotional connection between these two as I was reading (shivers up the spine and all that).  As is typical with all your novels, I have been unable to put this book down so that I can sleep at night.  Although, I have to admit that I am more than a little confused about their arrival at Faelen’s estate in Ireland and the new characters who have been introduced; but, then again that’s what also keeps me interested.

I will probably write again once I’ve finished, and I’ve had to avoid reading some of the spoilers above so as not to ruin the ending.  Wishing you all the best…

Denise

[21] Posted by Annabel Joseph on 02.13.2011

Great job on the new ebook cover, Laura! Very atmospheric and fits the book perfectly.

[22] Posted by Lynnd on 02.14.2011

Hi Laura:  Will Uncertain Magic (and your other forthcoming ebooks) be available through Kobo (in Canada) and/or the Reader Store (Sony)?

[23] Posted by laura kinsale on 05.18.2011

Hi, Lynnd.  I’m sorry to be so long in responding.  Right now Uncertain Magic doesn’t seem to be on either of those sites.  I’m checking into why not. 

Thanks, Annabel!

[24] Posted by laura kinsale on 08.01.2011

The best way to find various formats for my latest ebooks is to check my page on eReads.com

[25] Posted by Jai Joshi on 08.24.2012

This book was unexpected for me as I’d already read several of your books by this time and wasn’t prepared for the supernatural side of the story. I loved the characters, and Faelan broke my heart, but it wasn’t until the second reading that I truly fell in love with this book. Faelan’s desperation on finding Roddy on the mountain after she’s been missing, and the way he pleads with her to never leave him - so powerful! The chapter towards the end where we finally see his point of view was enthralling, he was so vulnerable and so young. It made the horror of what his mother had done that much more shocking. What a narcissist she was. It made me think of so many children who grow up with parents who have similar emotional deficiencies and how it can damage them inside. Brilliant writing.

Jai

[26] Posted by Aldana Havelka on 10.26.2012

Hi! Im from Argentina… I love yours books! But i can´t find local who sell your books!!!.. What can i do!!!!... You are amazing and your books are fascinating…
Love
Aldana

[27] Posted by laura kinsale on 10.31.2012

I’m glad you enjoy them, Aldana.  I wish I could help but I really don’t know anything about the distribution in Argentina.  You might go to my author page on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23890.Laura_Kinsale  All the editions of my books are listed there, including foreign editions, so you would see the publishers and perhaps could track some down that way. :0

Thanks for commenting!

[28] Posted by Cathy on 05.15.2013

This was the first romance novel that I ever read, over 20 years ago and it was fairly new! I’ve always remembered it fondly, as you always do your first :-)

When I saw the ebook I snagged it and reread it—it was still just as good as I remembered.

Have you ever considered writing about Faelen’s friend or Roddy’s brothers?? That would be interesting, plus we could find out how Faelen and Roddy are doing.

Best wishes and thank you for your books.

[29] Posted by laura kinsale on 05.15.2013

Cathy, that really makes me happy, that it was just as good as you remembered!  That’s quite a compliment. 

I don’t think I would write more about those characters, though, I’ll admit.  Maybe just a little too long ago for me to resurrect them. :)

[30] Posted by Ashley Navratil on 03.02.2014

Just finished my second read-through, and as they say about yon fiction, it was even better than I remembered. What depth you explored with these two! I was overwhelmed with a myriad of feeling for nearly the entire read. You did an amazing job with the magical aspect of the story, as well: subtle yet profound. Faelan is right up there with Jervaulx, Ruck, and Allegretto, in my opinion. Thank you for your writing, Laura. It never fails to exceed expectations.

[31] Posted by Laura Kinsale on 03.02.2014

I’m so glad it was better than you remembered! Thanks for telling me, made my day!

[32] Posted by Monica on 03.02.2014

Ditto what Ashley said, Laura. The deep point of view you use with your characters—sometimes with the subtly of how they dress, eat, or look—is pretty amazing. You spoil us with your understanding of your characters:) I have not found a writer comparable to you. Although not the right book for this post, I am about to read The Shadow and the Star for the gazillionth time. I just can’t get enough of the scene with Sam and Leda in the greenhouse with the cherries—by far one of my favorite scenes ever in a romance! Ever!!! If those of you reading this post have not read this book—do. It’s a must read!

[33] Posted by Katherine on 05.06.2014

I really like this book, I bought this in a bargain bookstore and this is the first book I bought that you made and we’ll I liked the cover so I decided to buy it and by the way I got the newly publish ones the purple cover. I read this book 4 or 5 times and I love it. I really liked fealan here because he’s acting all scary and tough but he’s really nice in his own way and roddy I think is amazing. You make amazing stories I also bought midsummer moon and now I’m currently reading lessons in French, Hope you make more stories like this. :)

[34] Posted by Laura Kinsale on 07.21.2014

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