Again the Magic - Lisa Kleypas - 2004

I've read a lot of Lisa Kleypas books over the years, but somehow this one slipped past me. "Again the Magic" belongs to the "Pretty in Pink" genre of romance, a 'wrong side of the tracks' tale, but in this case it's across the lawn and into the stables. Lady Aline Marsden loves stable boy John McKenna, a good young man who struggles to remain noble. McKenna attempts to keep his distance and keep Aline untouched for the anonymous aristocratic husband of her future, despite every effort she makes to persuade him. When the Earl discovers the would-be lovers, McKenna is sent away. Ambition carries him to America, where he perseveres with a bit of luck and a lot of ruthless business dealings. Kleypas fans will see some similarities to perennial favorite self-made man, Derek Craven ("Dreaming of You"). Kleypas breaks the novel into two sections, the time of passionate young love forbidden by society and the journey back together 8 years later. As a rule, I abhor revenge plot lines - they are mean and petty, and I never quite understand how the heroine falls in love with such a hero. McKenna's revenge is personal, he wants Aline, but believes he can manage to seduce and ruin her then walk away. Star-crossed young love however, remains a powerful thing, neither party has forgotten their short period of happiness. Essentially both characters have matured but not moved on - neither has married or ever really fallen out of love. When McKenna returns to England and the Marsden estate he meets the Earl and Aline as a guest and
real estate magnate, not as a servant.

As tumultuous as the h/h relationship is, it wouldn't be quite meaty enough to fill the pages. Thankfully there is a wonderful secondary love story featuring Aline's sister and McKenna's best friend and business partner. Both sister's seemed well on their way to becoming spinsters living off of their brother's favor by choice and tragedy. The Marsden's and Lisa Kleypas sure love their Americans - the protective older brother and future Earl in "Again the Magic" is none other than Marcus (Marsden) Westcliff from "It Happened One Autumn who gets his own spunky heiress from the states." (A wonderful story by the way - but not quite a stand alone as it is 2nd in the "Wallflower" series). I can think of few authors who tug the heartstrings with raw emotion like Kleypas. I couldn't consider this Kleypas novel a keeper, but I did enjoy the ride.