On New Year's Eve 1999, apprentice wizard, Felicity Grant accidentally catapults herself back in time a century using a combination of her own powers and a mysterious device that she thinks is some sort of dimension folding portal. There, in turn-of-the-century London, she meets John Sinclair, the inventor of the device she used to get there. He's a genius who is very well-known to wizards for his scientific abilities, and someone Felicity has been crushing on through his biography for most of her life. As the pair work together to find a way to send Felicity back to her own time, they fall madly in love, but when the time comes, will Felicity be able to let John go? And if she does attempt another trip through the portal, will her own out-of-control powers betray her, causing her own death?
It's been ages since I've read anything by Kay Hooper, but I recalled liking the one novella I read by her years ago. That being the case, I went into reading "Arts Magica" with high hopes, and it didn't disappoint. It's the story of an apprentice wizard who accidentally uses a time travel device combined with her own not-yet-fully-controlled powers to catapult herself back in time a century where she meets the inventor of the device.
I really liked Felicity. She's pretty upbeat and tries to remain optimistic throughout her journey even though she hasn't yet found the necessary internal "switch" that will allow her full control over her powers. As such, she's in danger of the wizard's council taking away some of her powers if she can't find it soon, but it's a physiological issue that needs the right impetus to work itself out. I thought it was cute that Felicity has had a major crush on John via the biographies of him she's read, so meeting him for real is very exciting for her and he definitely turns out to be everything she thought he was. I liked that she was so open with him about her wizard powers and future innovations, and I also liked that she was conscious of doing everything she could to not interrupt the space-time continuum.
John is a rather dreamy hero, who's both attractive and brainy. I have a real soft spot for geek heroes and he's definitely that. On top of his genius IQ, he's also involved in various progressive social issues, including being a proponent of women's rights. Feminist heroes are very sexy to me as well, and he certainly treated Felicity as his equal. I loved how fascinated he was with her, both as a wizard and as a person. There was a definite attraction for him right from the start. I also loved how curious he was about things that occur in the future and about how her wizard powers work. In addition to all that, he was sweet, gentle, and passionate. It was really cute to have the hero being the one to fall hard and fast.
Overall, "Arts Magica" was a really fun read. The time travel element was a little mind-bending with the heroine being aware of certain events from the past because of her knowledge from history books, but at the same time, some of those events were actually fueled by her time traveling. It twisted my mind into knots a little, but it was still geeky fun. I knocked off the half star for a couple of reasons. First is that because of the brevity of the story, I really wanted that romantic connection to happen very quickly, but it took until about the halfway point for things to really take off between John and Felicity. Once they did, I couldn't deny feeling a strong connection between them, like they were soul mates who'd finally found their other half. The other reason is that, like with most novellas and short stories, I can't help wishing they were a little longer. Especially when I enjoy them as much as I did this one, I really want to spend more time with the characters in their world, but I truly enjoyed it anyway. Despite my best efforts at trying to discover whether this novella was in any way connected to any of Kay Hooper's other books, I didn't realize it was until after I'd read it. "Arts Magica" is actually a follow-up novella to her full-length novel, The Wizard of Seattle. Richard and Serena, the hero and heroine of that novel, appear in "Arts Magica" as Felicity's mentors. I really liked what I saw of them, so I look forward to trying their book soon. "Arts Magica" can be found in the anthology Yours 2 Keep.
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