Under a New Year's Enchantment by Barbara Monajem is the second short story in a duet and continues where Under a Christmas Spell left off. Lucie (a succubus) and Valiant (an incubus) are still at the house party being hosted by Garrick, Lord Westerly. They were both given a mission - Lucie is to work her sensual magic on Garrick, who has been asexual since returning from the war. Valiant was to "awaken" the desires of Miss Theodora Southern, who has some foolish notion that she'll never marry. The problem is that being an incubus and/or a succubus isn't an exact science. The other attendees of the house party are getting a wee bit hot and bothered as well!
Naturally though some of those erotic dreams and visions are hitting their marks. Theodora, who grew up with Garrick and impulsively proposed to him (yes, she proposed marriage to him!) before he left for the war. Garrick let her down gently, but still it's an awkward elephant left standing in the room between them. So when she slips out at night to look at some old Roman ruins that Garrick discovered on his estate, and he dresses her down when he mistakes her for one of the pushy young thangs trying to finagle marriage out of him? She's so ticked off she's breathing fire. Passions already running high from the erotic dreams, Garrick knows he must apologize to Theodora - something not easy to accomplish when every time he sees her he's picturing her naked and in his bed.
I love house party settings in historical romances, and coupled with the holiday atmosphere this makes for a fun read. I also really liked both the hero and heroine. I loved that Theodora is refreshingly "modern" and forthright, but still feels true to the time period. Garrick is suitably surly, and I loved that he recognizes rather quickly that he was 1) an ass and 2) needs to find a way to apologize to Theodora without compromising her reputation (she was, after all, alone on the grounds after dark....).
What didn't work as well for me? Well, this really is the second part of a duet. I just don't think this story hangs very well on it's own. Readers really will get more out of it by having read the first one. The paranormal elements were light to begin with, but in this second entry they're even more glossed over. Garrick knows exactly what Valiant is, but even knowing that? I never felt like Theodora and Garrick were "out of their heads" and not aware of their actions. These two belong together, it's just the erotic presence of an incubus and a succubus sort of juice up the proceedings a bit. I also felt like the ending to the whole affair of why Valiant and Lucie were assigned to meddle could have been spelled out a little clearer.
Still, it's a quick holiday read - and I enjoyed the duet technique employed for these two romances. Both stories were quick, sexy, and had just the right amount of holiday flavor to keep me entertained during a very busy time of year.
Final Grade = B-