We’re reading our way across America…one romance at a time.
Maine: Again the Magic by Lee Damon
This is not the first time I have waxed rhapsodic about category romance novels in these pages. First, I discussed my love of Loveswept. Then, I paid homage to Silhouette Special Editions, with Catherine Coulter’s The Aristocrat. But no category romance—and in this, I am including all of the Kay Hoopers, Janet Daileys and Marie Ferrarellas of which I am so fond—has ever so claimed my heart, my devotion and my constant rereading (I swear to you, I read this book at least biannually, and it resides beside Pride and Prejudice, Ender’s Game and my passport whenever I go on long trips away) as has Again the Magic by Lee Damon. (Not to be confused with Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas. Obviously.)
Published by Gallen, and discovered by me in a secondhand bookstore in my late teens, Again the Magic tells the story of the statuesque and lovely Kittredge “Kitt” Tate, who is in possession of a rambunctious twin brother named Ezekiel (better known as Ez), a personality-filled dog named Hero and is a refugee from a, we soon discover, brutal marriage. Little did Kitt know when she bought the local bookstore in the tourist town of Kennebunkport, Maine, that also living close by was one Michael O’Mara, her teenage crush and perhaps One Great Love.
A former spy, O’Mara has been writing successful thrillers under a nom de plume for years, which allows him a certain luxury of lifestyle unfamiliar to the Tates. Despite the distance of years, as it has been more than a decade since the twins last saw their old friend, his simpatico with Kitt is still as palpable as ever—and her instant rapport with his young son, Gus, makes him even more determined to reconnect with her, while also discovering what could possibly have put the shadows in his fierce Kitt’s once carefree eyes.
Throughout the course of their reacquaintance, Kitt and O’Mara learn as much about themselves as they do about each other. Moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity—especially involving the outlandish Ez and his courtship of Kitt’s shop assistant, the adorable and feisty Midge—play out alongside scenes of tender revelation and discovery, and there are even some suspenseful elements excitingly rendered, as we deal with crimes, past and present, all set against an exquisitely-drawn backdrop of breathtaking scenery. And in the end, ahhh. Happy sigh. All is right with the world in Kennebunkport, Maine—a place I actually visited because of this book. I’m not kidding. (It’s lovely.)
Reading this novel any time in the last, oh, fifteen years, there are things that jump out at you. For one, the idea that anyone could lose complete touch with anyone else against their will nowadays is absurd; O’Mara maintains that after his time spent in the service of a government agency he won’t specify (he’d tell you but he’d have to kill you, yadda yadda yadda) he wanted to look Kitt up and resume their summer fling from back when she was eighteen and he twenty-two. Indeed, he wanted to marry her and settle down with her, now that he had the means to support her—this, even though he’d barely sent her a postcard in the intervening years. But, oh no! He couldn’t find her! Can you imagine that old chestnut flying now, in this age of social media and Google? Even back then, in the early 80s, it stretches credulity. For a start, he was a spy. Secondly, he knew which college she had attended. Third, her name is “Kittredge,” and her twin brother’s is “Ezekiel.” Please, I could have found her, and I was barely out of kindergarten when this book came out. (Another thing is the fashion choices, but we’ll cut the book some slack on that one. Considering the decade, we should all just be grateful no one wears bubble skirts or fingerless lace gloves. But really, is there ever an excuse for a hunter-green-and-navy plaid sports jacket?)
Still, this truly is a remarkably enjoyable book, again and again and again. It’s funny how some category romances, most of which are formulaic and predictable (and we like it that way), stay with you long after you have forgotten hundreds, if not thousands, of their ilk. Again the Magic is just such a one for me, and if the price written in pencil on the front page is actually what I paid for it all those years ago, then it has got to be the best thirty cents I ever spent.
Meanwhile, it occurs to me now that, unlike O’Mara and his laughingly thwarted attempt to track Kitt down, I have the internet at my disposal in order to discover what other reading delights author Lee Damon may have to offer. In the months, if not years, after first reading this book, I spent a good deal of time in secondhand bookstores and libraries scouring their shelves and catalogues for her name, to no avail—why it never occurred to me before now to put the wonders of modern technology to work on the problem I do not know. But there, now, done. According to her all-too-brief Goodreads page, Damon also published three other romances around the same time, a Harlequin Superromance and two Second Chance at Loves… and then was never heard from again. I do hope she’s okay. And perhaps she is, because All About Romance tells me her real name is Jane H. Look, and a comment post from 2007 at paperbackswap.com suggests that she may well still be writing under a more well-known pseudonym. If anyone knows if that is true and what that pseudonym is, let me know in the Comments, ’k?
See, O’Mara? It’s really not that hard.
Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.