I've been collecting her works in print, and until recently was not lucky enough to get my hands on a copy. However, for those of you who do want to read this book and can't get your hands on a print copy, please note that the digital edition of the book became available in May 2011.
The fairest in all Louisiana...The Love Charm by Pamela Morsi is another book full of the type of characters that I've come to expect from this writer's stories. These are hard working, everyday people who find love while going about their ordinary daily lives. She sets this story in a small Acadian town smack in the middle of the Louisiana bayou, and in true Morsi style she provides the necessary details to set the type of atmosphere that takes and keeps the reader straight to place. The time is 1820, however, although I knew that I was reading a historical, I lost track of the exact time when this novel is set, possibly due to the remoteness of the location and the sub-culture that Morsi explores with such success. Regardless, as expected, Morsi's characters and romances (there are three) take center stage.
Aida Gaudet has charm and fire enough to enflame the desires of any man. Like a hurricane descending upon the bayou, her unparalleled beauty has thrown a humble Acadian town into turmoil--setting neighbor against neighbor in competition for her attentions. But Aida wants what no one yet has offered her: she wants to know true love.
A steadfast pillar of a tight-knit community--someone to trust in times of trouble--Armand Sonnier also feels Aida's fire. And he, too, burns for this rare, radiant jewel who can never be his, for she is promised to his closest friend.
But the bayou moon can work many strange sorceries--compelling even a rational young man to take irrational risks... as it strengthens his resolve to win an enchantress's restless heart with passion, determination, and a cup of voodoo magic.
The central romance is that of Aida Gaudet and Armand Sonnier. Aida is considered the most beautiful woman in Louisiana and is initially engaged to Laron, the best looking man in the bayou. She is viewed as a somewhat scatterbrained, superficial woman by the community, and that includes Armand and even herself. Armand Sonnier, the most educated man in the bayou and Laron's best friend has loved Aida from afar since they were no more than children. But he's never been able to take action because of what he sees as his one flaw -- he's handsome but short for a man. His stature keeps him from going after what he wants, Aida.
Their romance encompasses the whole book, and although it's full of misunderstandings caused by their personal insecurities, with a little help from a love charm, a friend, and true love, Ms. Morsi delivers in the end. As an aside, this is the first romance I read where the male protagonist is quite short, shorter than the female. For example, Aida mentions a few times how shocking and unusual it is to meet a man's gaze straight on... plus, she mentions seeing the part of his hair when they are dancing together. This aspect of Aida and Armand's romance is really well done, but that should not be a surprise. Morsi loves to create characters that stand out and of course she makes it work!
There are two secondary romances, although I hate to call them that because they pack such an emotional punch and make such an impact that one of them is actually my favorite in this book. Aida's fiancé Laron is a gorgeous man with all the physical goods, but there's so much more to him. Laron has been conducting a long-term affair with Helga, the "German widow," who lives just outside of the Acadian community. She and her three children adore Laron for good reasons, and as the story moves along it's obvious that the love these two people share is deep and true. Morsi spared no emotions when writing this couple's romance - highs, lows and in-betweens. I fell in love with Laron and Helga.
And then we have Armand's oldest brother Jean Baptiste Sonnier and his wife Felicité. Ohhh, this was good! This was just SO good! Jean Baptiste and sweet Felicité were married when very young, and she has been pregnant almost every year since then. Jean Baptiste says he loves her, but he's tired of the fact that his wife is always fat and the responsibilities of marriage are dragging him down. Jean Baptiste is envious of Armand, Laron and all the other single young men who are having fun while he's dragged down by all the babies and the "fat" wife! With a little help from a friend sweet Felicité gives Jean Baptiste exactly what he deserves. Yes!!!! What a great scene! I loved the final resolution for this couple, just loved it.
In summary, The Love Charm by Pamela Morsi is a solid historical romance that contains all of the writer's best traits: excellent characterization, atmosphere, wonderful setting and inspired writing. She again includes a whole community of characters to complete the story and give it depth without taking the focus away from its main purpose, romance. What I'll remember about The Love Charm is that, although I enjoyed the central romance which is pivotal to the story as a whole and has the distinction of including a short male protagonist, a secondary romance became my favorite and the other one has one of the best resolutions I've read in a while. All in all a solid, enjoyable read for me from Pamela Morsi.
Category: Americana Historical Romance
Publisher/Released: Avon Books/November 1, 1996
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