Book Review

Review: LoveSpell by Nelle McFather


Title: LoveSpell
Author: Nelle McFather
Publication Info: Leisure 1992
ISBN: 0-8439-3203-1
Genre: Historical: European

Lovespell - Nelle McFatherThere is so much epic WTF crazysauce going on in LoveSpell that it’s basically RedHeadedGirl bait. I read it on the beach, and when I was done I considered setting it on fire and casting it into the sea at sunset in a magenta and turquoise funerary rite.

First of all, let’s talk about the cover. That is clearly MacGyver making out with Rogue from X-Men. By the way, the heroine has a white streak in her hair, is southern and has special powers. So yeah, Rogue.

LoveSpell is a gothic that bounces from present day (1992) to Tudor England because the heroine, Alix, has “genetic memories” of her past life as Crislyn. Alix has just buried her Uncle Porter and is all upset that her cousin, Cassandra, didn’t show up for the funeral. Cassandra’s husband, Philip-the-Asswagon, does come though, which is suspicious. Why is Phillip an asswagon? Well, he was Alix’s professor when he seduced her in the most WTF way possible. Cue flashback music:

“Professor Coleman, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What ‘special situation?’”

“You’re staying in my aunt’s house next door to mine on Friday nights, starting this evening. The regular nurse is off, so we need someone to stay in the house.” He looked at me with dancing eyes. “Don’t look so worried. Aunt Dora sleeps like a rock, but she likes the idea of someone being around. It was her idea for me to arrange someone from one of my classes. I thought of you at once.”

“Why me?” I asked. “And why couldn’t you stay with her one night a week?”

He shrugged. “She likes the idea of another female and I thought of you because you’re mature. Also, you wrote in your application bio that you assisted your uncle part-time in his medical practice. Besides…” The eyes held mine, challenging me to deny the mutual physical awareness that had crackled between us from the first day. “…I want to know you better, Alixandra Manning. I look at you sometimes in class and see a beautiful, mysterious goddess in the middle of a sea of nymphets, and I sense you’re someone extraordinary.”


Kristin Wiig making disgusted face

So, if you’re guessing that this is all a ploy by Philip-the-Asswagon to seduce Alix, you are right. Also he’s described as being an extraordinarily skilled lover.

What are his skillz, you ask? Kissing followed immediately by penetration.


Jean Luc Picard with disgusted face


Then Phillip-the-Asswagon found out that Alix wasn’t a rich heiress, but her cousin, Cassandra, was and he dumped her and eventually married Cassandra.

Alix doesn’t buy that Cassandra wouldn’t have come to the funeral, and she doesn’t trust Phillip-the-Asswagon, so she goes in search of her cousin in the last place she was, England. Alix is on the way to Bloodstones Castle, where Cass was researching their family history, and gets into a car accident, and the brooding and Gothic owner of the castle, Miles, takes her in.

Book Matlock DVD Season 1

There’s some “I-hate-you-for-no-reason-but-I-want-to-fuck-you” feistiness between Alix and Miles, and there’s a supermodel there for no reason other than to be a bitch I guess, and Miles tells everyone that Alix is staying on as a companion for his aged mother.

WTF. What is it about this woman that screams “PRETEND I’M TAKING CARE OF YOUR ELDERLY RELATIVE SO WE CAN SECRETLY BANG!” Did she show up holding a copy of AARP magazine and the DVD box set of Matlock?

Also, Miles’s mother really does live in the castle and he really does expect Alix to read to her and shit. You know what’s probably not a great fucking idea? TRUSTING A TOTAL GODDAMNED STRANGER TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR ELDERLY MOTHER. I’d like to think I’d maybe hire a nurse, or a personal careworker, or do a mother-fucking background check. Miles is all “I likes her boobies. Hired!”

Anyway, Alix stays at the castle and reads Georgette Heyer to Mummy and she and Miles fuck, and she and the supermodel are all bitchy, and she looks for Cass.

But this isn’t even the interesting bit. OH NO. Those are the “flashbacks.” Alix periodically goes into a catatonic state where she relives her past life as Crislyn, a woman from the Tudor era. And this is where the author smothers this book in extra-spicy crazysauce for your reading pleasure.

Crislyn is the daughter of a miller and a noblewoman (mom is dead, Disney-style). She’s got secret witchy powers like talking to nature and healing and shit. And she’s out with a falcon catching rabbits and such when a Handsome Stanger approaches her and suggests that their falcons duke it out to the death. If his bird wins he gets to bed her — “a proper bedding, one without biting and scratching.”


And if she wins he won’t tell everyone about her witchy grandmother, thereby saving gramma from being burned at the stake or whatever. What a fucking charmer.

So he wins (yes, her bird dies and it made me sad) and then they have sex and it’s great and she never sees him again. Later, Crislyn’s father, who is as disgusting as Phillip-the-Asswagon, tells her that he’s basically sold her in marriage to the Baron of Bloodstones Castle who insists on having her even though she’s a lowly miller’s daughter (apparently millers were more important than I realized and got to fuck the aristocracy a lot). Then he tells her he’s not really her dad and tries to rape her. So she kills him.

So then Crislyn’s grandmother tells her to run away and she does. She lives in the woods for awhile until she’s captured by a highwayman-cum-Robin-Hood named Lord Blackheart.

Lord Blackheart. Bloodstones Castle. Can we get any more heavy-handed here? Let’s name the hero Hugh Schlong and the heroine Alabaster McTittiesworth. Anyway there’s more feisty shit that’s supposed to prove how tough and spirited Crislyn is, but was really just annoying. And then they start fucking.

And then Lord Blackheart (Crislyn calls him Lord B, for reals) reveals that he’s going to do something with a charter or some shit and has to pose as a nobleman and he wants Crislyn to pose as his wife and seduce some dude. I don’t know. I honestly had no idea what the fuck was going on this point. The plot not only jumped the tracks, but the train flew off a bridge and erupted into a giant fireball because it was hauling Class 1.1 Explosive Materials without proper placarding.

Anyway they move to town, Crislyn seduces the guy but doesn’t sleep with him, she hypnotizes him to think they’ve slept together (because apparently she just figured out the swinging a pendant in front of someone thing), but Lord B gets all asshurt anyway.

Crislyn runs away again (I think—at this point I’d had a couple of Dirty Monkeys and a rum and Coke). Then she gets captured by James Linwood, the Baron of Bloodstones Castle, who turns out to be the dude who she had the creeptastic falconry bet with and they get married. And then some shit happens and they fight and then Lord B shows up wounded, except she realizes that Lord B and James are really the same fucking person and so she’s been in love with one dude this whole time.

HOW THE EVERLOVING SHIT DID SHE NOT KNOW THAT? James dyed his hair black and wore an eyepatch as Lord B and that was enough to make her think they were TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. I mean, she has seen this guy naked—a lot. And he’s going to have the same voice and the same build and…I can’t…

Anyway back to the future. Miles is the re-incarnated James, and did he murder Cassandra, Alix doesn’t know, and I fucking quit.

Other crazy shit that happens in this book:

1.      Alix describes her housekeeper as the Pillsbury Dough-Boy in gingham

2.      All the Lords of Bloodstone Castle are born with an extra finger that’s removed during a ceremony. This has no bearing on anything whatsoever, but is just casually mentioned.

3.      The modern Bloodstones Castle has a friar living there doing research who is described multiple times as “retarded.”

4.      Crislyn is really a Hapsburg. OF COURSE SHE FUCKING IS.


So that’s LoveSpell. Basically there is enough crazy in this book for several Old Skools. It’s so fushia is glows. And I’m having another rum and Coke.

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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    KarenH says:

    Wow.  that’s the kind of book that would give you alcohol poisoning if you played a drinking game with it.  (I am a little disappointed there were no plot moppets, but I guess you can’t have everything)

  2. 2
    Sarita says:

    My inner twelve-year-old lol’d at asswagon. Also Alabaster McTittiesworth.
    Also, nothing sez hero like blackmailing a strange lady into fatal bloodsports with her pet so she won’t make the sex unpleasant by acting like it’s rape. Clearly not rape. She lost a bet. So if she lost, does that mean he will tell everyone about her grandmother?
    And did he honestly get his knickers in a twist over her fake seducing the guy he told her to seduce? Just…gah.

  3. 3
    Dianna says:

    Hang on, so Alix never finds out that Coleman murdered Cassandra, gets him sent to prison, and then inherits her dead cousin’s riches?

    That is such a huge let down. I always hope that if a girl has to spend a couple of hundred pages having sex with jerks, there’s at least some prospect of financial independence after the last page.

    Although she has a good education, maybe she should just go out and get a decent job, the lazy thing.

  4. 4

    Why do I feel like I need a drink…or six…when it’s only 8:45 in the morning?

  5. 5
    Bamaclm says:

    It’s a good thing she’s a Hapsburg because only the nobility could keep raptors. There were strong laws enforcing this. Did she also have the Hapsburg jaw? Because that would be … interesting.

  6. 6
    Gry says:

    I think my brain exploded just from reading this review – I certainly got cross-eyed trying to follow the mere description of the plot tangles. A few shots of whisky is certainly indicated!

  7. 7
    CarrieS says:

    Am disappointed at the lack of amnesia, plot moppets, and secret pregnancy.  The six fingers is a nice touch, though.  Extra point for it just being casually mentioned.  They should have casually mentioned secret pregnancy, like, “Did I happen to mention that we all have six fingers in my family?  I was born when my grandmother, under the throes of amnesia, got pregnant with me and forgot.  Imagine her surprise when I appeared.  She widened her violet eyes and said, “Oh, a plot moppet”.  Now, what were we doing, my zebra-haired darling?

  8. 8
    E. Jamie says:

    Six fingers? OMG, one of these lords killed Inigo Montya’s father!!! He must prepare to die!

    And, what, no pirates? Lol! Or would a pirate AND a highway man be too heavy on the crazysauce? Well, you have to applaud the writer’s restraint, no? Lol!

  9. 9
    Amanda says:

    Thanks for taking one for the team, Elyse.

  10. 10
    Jamie Beck says:

    Thank you for giving me something FUN to read today…and I’m talking about your review, not the book.  WOW.

  11. 11

    Hmmmmm. Based on the length of that mullet, I’d have to go with fifth or sixth season MacGyver. ;) Which is about right, given the crazysauce in this book!

    (The Law of MacGyver Episode Quality, you see, is that the quality of any given MacGyver episode is inversely proportional to the length of his mullet. Which is why you get all the crazysauce in the latter seasons of the show!)

  12. 12
    Rosa E. says:

    This was exactly what I needed to start the day. A nice black cup of guffaw. Perfect.

    And it seems to me that the Hapsburg reveal explains a lot. After all, didn’t the Hapsburgs have more than the jaw running in the family? Once you get up to a few decades of inbreeding, you start turning out some pretty nonfunctional brains. Maybe that’s why she didn’t recognize that her new husband was the same guy she’d been banging already.

    Also, I totally want to change my screen name to Alabaster McTittiesworth now.

  13. 13
    Courtney S says:

    I have to say that reading this review just brightened up my WHOLE day at the EDJ!!
    I was reading while on my lunch break & I couldn’t HELP but to giggle & snicker.

    Thanks for the laugh!!

  14. 14
    LauraL says:

    That sixth finger detail has me thinking I read this book back in the day.


  15. 15
    AmyA says:

    Oh, my lord, I was trying so hard not to laugh too loud at work (lunch) that I had tears running.  Thank you for the review!!!

  16. 16
    chacha1 says:

    Between the review and those perfect photos, this was definitely LOL.

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:


    Did she also have the Hapsburg jaw? Because that would be … interesting.

    You know… now that I look at the cover again…she does have a bit of…nah, I’m imagining things.


    The Law of MacGyver Episode Quality, you see, is that the quality of any given MacGyver episode is inversely proportional to the length of his mullet. Which is why you get all the crazysauce in the latter seasons of the show!

    HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS. I feel like a piece of missing essential data has been dropped on my head. Thank you!

  18. 18

    Sarah @ #17: If you want to learn of these things, it helps to live in a house full of nerds. ;) (Also I might POSSIBLY have watched a lot of MacGyver. Guys who can build nuclear reactors with a Swiss Army knife and some duct tape, yum! No wait, that belongs on the catnip thread…)

    I begin to suspect you could make a very strong argument for a related Law of Romance Novel Crazysauce, based on mullet length on various covers. Further field research is called for!

  19. 19
    L. says:

    I’m having rum and coke too! Only I don’t have any coke so I’m just having the rum. It’s been a hard day at work. I totally needed this review. and the rum. Bacardi strawberry and dragonfruit. I recommend.

  20. 20
    roserita says:

    I don’t get that cover.  It looks like they’re halfway submerged.

  21. 21
    LaineyT says:

    @Elyse LOL, I got so excited to when I saw this was an F+ review written by you cuz I just knew it would be chalked full of WTF’ery (especially since it was an Old Skool HR) and hilarious.  You did not disappoint! ;)

  22. 22
    Ova says:

    The dancing eyes will haunt my nightmares…

    Seriously those reaction shots were just perfect.

  23. 23
    MJ says:

    Highlight of my day. For reals, Lady E.

  24. 24
    Catherine says:

    But… I want to know how it ends!

    (though not, however, enough to read it).

    Thank you for reading it so that we don’t have to.


  25. 25
    ilex says:

    Awww, why couldn’t it have been Moonspell, instead? I was so excited to see a crazypants review of an old Nelle McFather book… Thanks for taking one for the team, anyway!

  26. 26

    Oh gawd I soooooo want to read this now!!!

  27. 27
    Rebecca says:

    Has anyone ever asked the authors of F+ books how they came up with the crazysauce and what they were thinking and/or smoking?  I ask because – weird person that I am – I wonder if Nell McFather had any background in late medieval Spanish literature.  The dueling falcons (I don’t think falcons actually do that, but really, at this point in the story, who cares?) reminded me of an early part of the ballad cycle of el Cid from the fifteenth/sixteenth century.  The heroine of the romance complains that the hero is:

    “caballero en un caballo,
    y en su mano un gavilán.
    por hacerme más enojo
    cébalo en mi palomar
    con sangre de mis palomas
    ensangrentó mi brial.”

    (“A knight on a horse, with a hawk in his hand, and to anger me more he lets it hunt in my dovecote, and has bloodied my skirt with blood of my doves.”)  The general assumption is that leaving dove blood on a girl’s skirt (“brial,” really a tunic worn over a long undergarment) is some kind of sexual metaphor, though I don’t think anyone’s really anxious to work out the visual.  The song is available on Amazon, by the way. 

    So apparently hunting a girl’s birds is the medieval/renaissance equivalent of pulling her braids.  Anyone know of any other falcon sex stories?  Inquiring minds want to know.

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