March 7, 2012

Casting Spells

Sugar Maple looks like any Vermont town, but it’s inhabited by warlocks, sprites, vampires, witches – and an ancient secret. Chloe Hobbs, owner of the popular knitting shop Sticks and String, has a big secret too. She’s a sorcerer’s daughter in search of Mr. Right, and she’s found him in Luke MacKenzie, a cop investigating Sugar Maple’s very first murder. The bad news is he’s 100% human – which could spell disaster for a normal future with a paranormal woman like her.

Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton is a wonderfully easy read. The main cast of characters don’t change, and you know that the killer is amongst them – and it’s not like they’re being deceptive either. In a town of magic, Chloe struggles to come to terms with her normalness. Her ancestor cast a protective spell on the town three centuries ago and it will only work if there is a Hobb’s sorceress to keep their bloodline going. With Chloe being the last of her line and human, the residents are actively trying to fix her up so the magic that protects the town continues. However, the spell is weakening, as their first murder in centuries shows. Unfortunately for them, the woman was the mistress of a state politician, and law and order is descending on Sugar Maple.

It’s funny to read about Chloe and her life. An average, normal human living amongst magical beings takes a little getting used to. As Luke moves into town, everyone is telling her that she can’t be with him, a human, but Chloe’s heart doesn’t care. When her friend Gunnar’s fae mother turns up looking for the Hobb’s Book of Spells, the shit hits the fan as a family squabble turns into a race against the clock in search for the book.

I loved Chloe’s homey attitude. As the daughter of a fantastic knitter, I grew up with a mountain of wool that seemed to multiply by magic during the winter (kinda like dust bunnies... one day there’s none, two days later there’s a whole mob of them!). Luke is a cop who knows there’s something else going on around town, but just can’t quite seem to put his finger on it. It’s fun to watch him trying to explain away Chloe’s burgeoning magic, and poor Chloe – having to deal with her powers emerging at 30 (she’s always been a late bloomer) – is enchanting. I giggled when she had to take shelter from her kitchen utensils.

This book is a sweet read, and I did not find too much wrong with it. It is uncomplicated and easy to read. A nice change of pace from the twists and turns of my recent purchases like Twisted. If you like cosy mysteries then this should still interest you although it’s not a cosy by any means. Think of it as paranormal romance lite. I don’t know if there are any other books from the author in this series, but I some of the other characters deserve their own stories. Read on a bus or train ride, or perhaps during your lunch hour. Or just grab some chocolate, a hot cup of tea, and curl up on the couch and lose yourself in Sugar Maple.

I'll Be Watching You...

Andrea Kane certainly knows what she’s doing. This book grabs you from the first chapter and doesn’t let go until the thrilling climax. It twists and turns until you are unsure as to who you should suspect, and even then, the identity of the killer is a surprise.

Okay, the basic synopsis is this. Dr. Taylor Halstead, a NY school psychologist and radio personality, is assaulted by her cousin’s boyfriend. Interrupted before he can rape her, he leaves her unconscious and handcuffed to the bed, after telling her he’ll be back to finish what they’ve started. When she wakes up she reports his arse to the police. Now, on the same day that he attacks her, Gordon Mallory, her cousin (and roommate) Stephanie and some friends are killed when an explosion rips through his luxury yacht. Taylor is devastated, and left feeling emotional battered.

Months later, Taylor’s life is once again thrown into turmoil when she begins to get notes and phone calls from someone. When dealing with her late cousins estate, she meets lawyers to finalise some financial details. There she runs into and freaks out as she comes face to face with Gordon’s identical twin Jonathan. Lawyer Reed Watson steps in and helps her. The two form a bond and they begin to see each other. Jonathan however doesn’t take the hint and continues to pursues her. Meanwhile her stalker ups the ante by killing one of her co-workers and friend. With the help of Reed, Taylor has to uncover the identity of her stalker. . . or risk becoming his next victim.

Now, what did I think of this book you ask?  Well... I love, love, loved it. I came across this book after finding a battered ex-library copy of Scent of Danger - and since I loved that book - I was looking forward to another by Kane. I wasn’t disappointed. Her leading lady, Taylor, is a woman who knows herself but isn’t afraid to admit to being insecure and needy at times. Reed is a strong protective man with a deep need to keep his lady safe. Their consequent relationship wasn’t hard to foretell, and was interesting to watch as it seems to stay constant and steady, forging ahead under stresses that in real life would most likely tear any committed couple apart. Jonathan, twin of Gordon, is an interesting character as he struggles to overcome childhood traumas - but not until after he's made a real arse of himself. Gordon was a nasty piece of work and when he was blown up at the beginning, I cheered!

This book twists and turns, taking readers through a range of emotions and ideas. It gives you an insight into the turmoil a stalker can have on their target, and the lack of protection given to their victims by the law. Looking back there was one or two subtle, and I mean subtle, hints as to the identity of Taylor’s stalker. The stalker’s reasoning was hard to fathom at times, but once the identity is revealed then it makes sense. Then again, stalkers don’t seem to need a rational reason to begin with.

If you liked Twisted, Scent of Danger, any of the Noah Bishop books by Kay Hooper or even the JD Robb books starring Lt. Eve Dallas, then you’ll enjoy this book. Be warned . . .it’s addictive, so I wouldn’t recommend reading it during your lunch hour. You just won’t want to put it down.

Couldn't help myself

Yes, I caved.  After talking about the Drake Sisters series, I couldn't help it.  I ordered 2 more books from the online bookstore.  But that's it - no more till after Easter... I promise!

So what did I buy?  Well it'll be no surprise that its Water Bound and Spirit Bound - especially since I've started on the books that lead up to them.  What did surprise me is that there has been a name change to the series.  Yeah, I was amazed too.  Instead of listing them as A Sea Haven Novel, the author's got Sisters of the Heart listed on her website.  Which is strange because the books as still being sold with the Sea Haven tag on the covers.  Who knows, but personally I'll stick with A Sea Haven Novel.  It just sounds better to me - and not so girly if you know what I mean.  Perhaps it is only on the UK covers?  I've noticed that the US covers still carry the original series, but Spirit Bound UK has the new one... hmmm?

Whatever the name, I can't wait to get my hands on Spirit Bound.  This time we meet the third of the Prakenskii brothers, Stefan.  He sounds just as bossy, arrogant and talented as his brothers so I'm expecting a good read - and wow, it doesn't hurt that all of those boys are deliciously yummy.  From what has slipped in the other books, I think Gavriil is the eldest.  It sounds like his book will be very good.  So that's 4 brothers named (Ilya, Lev, Stefan and Gavriil), 3 more to go...