Visions of Magic (Awakening #1) by Regan Hastings
In the ten years since magic has reemerged in the world, witches have become feared and hunted. For weeks Shea Jameson has been haunted by visions of fire. When she unintentionally performs a spell in public, she becomes one of the hunted. Her only hope is Torin, a dangerously sensual man who claims to be her eternal mate.
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Regan Hastings (a.k.a. Maureen Child) makes me sad. I was quite excited to read Visions of Magic since it sounded like it would be a fun paranormal romance with a gorgeous cover. Unfortunately, I found it to be rather disappointing. The lead characters, Torin and Shea, are fairly one-dimensional despite their centuries of history and all they seem to do is have sex, even though they have a very important mission to accomplish. It got to the point that I would skip over many pages of sex looking for the storyline, which is what I was more interested in.
Sadly, the plot wasn’t thrilling. Basically, Shea’s a witch whose coven cursed themselves to spend 810 years without magic, with their powers set to Awaken after this point their reincarnated selves would have 30 days to find the piece of the Artifact that they hid and to form a mating bond with their Eternal, which involves a great deal of sex and results in a mating tattoo that spreads from the left breast around the back (like on the cover). It really felt like everything in the story was geared towards sexytime, which isn’t what I look for in a romance. I like having a sensual aspect but for me, it’s really all about the connection between the two protagonists and I just couldn’t invest in the “connection” between Shea and Torin since it lacked nuance and depth. Furthermore, the villain of the piece, Kellyn, also lacked any true dimension, though perhaps that was the author’s attempt to make her seem more mysterious. There are still questions about Kellyn to be answered, presumably in later installments in the series, but I doubt that I’ll be along for the ride.
On the positive side, the world that Regan Hastings has created is quite nice. I like the basic mythology she’s crafted and the idea that witches are reviled and hunted creates a lot of danger and potential for interesting plot twists. Having the lawful groups in charge of rounding up and incarcerating witches, and also the more fanatical group, the Seekers, adds a lot of detail to the world that I really enjoyed. There’s also a Dr. Mengele in this world, except his name is Dr. Fender and he experiments on witches, not concentration camp victims, which I found a little rote; however, he’s not featured heavily in this novel so perhaps he will become more interesting later on. Oh, and having a female president is a nice touch.
Overall, I found this to be a disappointing book. I think there are some people out there who might enjoy it but it’s not for me since I prefer an emphasis on characterization and layered plots over a lot of sex in my novels.
Book #4 in Dark Faerie Tales’ urban fantasy challenge for this year.