Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hero: Nicholas Wyndham Fitzsimmons
Heroine: Saralee (Sybil) Richardson
Date of Publication: October 24, 1986
Started On: April 22, 2020
Finished On: May 01, 2020
First published in 1986, Bewitching Hour by Anne Stuart tells the story of Saralee (Sybil) Richardson and 34 year old Professor Nicholas Wyndham Fitzsimmons (Nick), who comes to Danbury, Vermont to debunk the beliefs held dear by the new age shopkeeper that is Sybil. Sybil at first believes Nick would an old professor at that and needless to say, when Nick does turn up at her shop, none is more surprised than her, most of all from the way she reacts to him at a very basic level.
Sybil comes from a family of geniuses, women who are overachievers for the most part. She is the odd one out, and having always felt out of place, it was no wonder that her marriage had proved to be dissatisfactory as well, the divorce having propelled her to move to Vermont. Believing she had found her place, the only thing that would make things perfect is for Sybil to find someone to share her life with, a man of the kind with whom she believes she would have a satisfying marriage with.
Nick fails to tick all those boxes that Sybil believes should be part and parcel of her ideal mate, and from the onset, Sybil resists at every turn from giving into him, even when she knows better. While Nick too finds Sybil infuriating and wholly sexy in a way that is indescribable, resistance is futile under the circumstances as the tension between them escalates until all of it culminates in the type of beautifully crafted sex scenes that only Ms. Stuart can deliver.
I loved Bewitching Hour for the most part. I have rarely come across books from Ms. Stuart that I didn’t particularly care for. I loved Nick; he was a refreshing change in the sense that he has a brilliant mind and insight of the kind which sees Sybil for truly who she is. He was kind and utterly sexy in a way that only exemplarily crafted heroes can be.
For some reason, Sybil continues to ignore the signs around her, not just when it comes to Nick and what he means for her future. She ignores the very real “danger” around her, for the small retirement community in which she lives, and that is one of the reasons I found it a bit hard to understand Sybil. To give credit where its due, Sybil is smart, perhaps just that she does not see herself as such because of being overshadowed by her more brilliant siblings4 all her life.
Another reason that I felt disappointed was by the lack of an epilogue or some sort of closure when it came to the “villain” in the story. The fact that the “villain” managed to escape did not sit well with me, when so much havoc and endangerment to lives had been caused by the very same person. I wanted an ending where justice was delivered in some form, but alas, I think what Ms. Stuart was going for was a “quirky” villain who would somehow be lovable at the same time? I quite didn’t feel that way, if that was what was intended.
Even with all the aspects of the story which I hoped were otherwise, I have to say I enjoyed reading Bewitching Hour. After all, in my world, Ms. Stuart is one of those authors who can seldom do any wrong.
Recommended for those who love unusual heroines and heroes who prove to be their undoing. And of course, for fans of Ms. Stuart.
Final Verdict: Two people who by all means are polar opposites find the chaotic oasis they have been searching for in each other. It is the quirky bits in between that made this a good read!
She tried to pull away again, but he still held her firmly. “That was just to get you used to the idea,” he murmured, a thread of laughter in his voice. And pulling her into the warmth of his body, he kissed her again.
She tried to keep her mouth closed against his, but it was a losing battle. Slowly, seductively his tongue reached out, breaching her defenses, slipping into her mouth, invading her, possessing her, as his hands molded her suddenly pliant body against his. He tasted of brandy, she thought as her eyelids fluttered closed. He tasted of love.
His eyes were dancing with humor and something more. Something even Sybil had to recognize, whether she wanted to or not. “Oh, Sybil,” he said, his voice soft, “what makes you think I don’t want you? I don’t know if I’ve ever wanted anyone so much in my life.” And before she had a chance to do more than open her mouth in astonishment he pushed her down on the sofa, his mouth claiming hers as his hands held her still for his shattering kiss.
A white hot spasm of longing swept over her, one so intense that she practically cried out. Her hands reached out to pull him closer, her tongue touched his, shyly at first, then with renewed hunger, until all that existed were their mouths, twining, joining, thrusting and retreating, heat and love and desire all tumbled together.
He couldn’t resist, even if it meant blowing all his hard work. He slid one long arm around her waist, under her coat, and pulled her against him. He caught her chin with his other hand, turning her startled face up to his. “I just want to see if the potion’s still working,” he murmured, and set his mouth on hers.
Her response was gratifyingly instantaneous. Her hands clutched his shoulders, her head tilted back and her mouth opened beneath his with only the slightest pressure. Suddenly he felt slightly desperate. He pushed his tongue past her teeth, into the warm dark hollow of her mouth, and her own tongue met his, sliding against him, flirting with him, and her breasts seemed to swell and press against his chest, as her fingers clutched more tightly, and he heard a tiny little moan deep in the back of her throat. A moan of wanting, a moan of surrender.
He surged upward, carrying her with him, and for a moment she dangled there in his arms, inches off the ground, as they kissed. He was hard against her, very hard, the soft fleece of his sweatpants leaving nothing to the imagination, and she gave a small moan of panic and anticipation. Slowly he lowered her to the floor, his hands sliding down to cup her rounded hips and hold her against him, forcing her to feel his need. It was a need that matched her own.
She tried to move back against him, half in shyness, half in desire, but his hands on her shoulders held her away, and his eyes as they drifted down her nude, aroused body were as powerful an aphrodisiac as any ancient love potion.
Then he pulled her back, and his hands on her flesh were unbearably arousing. She reached for his sweatshirt again, but he forestalled her, pulling it over his head and tossing it after the nightshirt. And catching her hand, he pulled it down between them, to that pulsing maleness that was turning her dizzy with want and a primitive panic. She wasn’t used to this, she wasn’t used to him, she wasn’t sure…
He took her hand and slid it inside the waistband of the sweatpants. As her fingers curled, willingly and wonderingly, around his flesh, his hand found her, hot and damp and ready for him.
“Please,” she whispered, her face crushed against the hot, smooth skin of his shoulder. Her free hand clutched at him, the nails digging into his flesh. “Please, I can’t stand it.”
“What do you want, Saralee?” he whispered in her ear, his voice soft and low. He couldn’t be human, she thought. She had physical proof that he was ready to explode, and he could still taunt her, ignoring his own needs.
“I want you,” she said. Stupid words, how could he fail to know that? “I want you inside me. Now.”
She was trembling, he was trembling, she was crying, he was crying. Then the tempo shifted, jerked, swung crazily and exploded. Too soon, Sybil thought dizzily. Not yet. Don’t let it stop.
And it didn’t. For countless, endless moments it held, beyond reality, time and space. It held, so achingly pleasurable that it flirted with pain, then melted back into pleasure, until they collapsed together in a damp tangle of limbs and hair and heat and love.
Finally it was up to her. It was time to shatter his control as he had shattered hers, time and time again. She pushed him back on the bed, rolled him over and sat astride him, her long dark blond hair rippling down her narrow back, her brown eyes blazing in delight as this time she set the pace. When his hands reached out to cup her hips she moved them away, pressing them down on the mattress as she rocked, back and forth, teasing him as he had teased her, until he was panting and sweating, his golden eyes glazed, until he lost the last trace of his control and arched up into her downthrust, spilling himself into her with a raw, guttural cry that echoed in Sybil’s heart as her body exploded around him one last time.