Charmed & Dangerous

Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous
by Candace Havens
Rating: ★★½
isbn: 9780425219003
Publication Date: April 12, 2007
Pages: 287
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Publisher: Berkley

 

Another Candace Havens, set in the same universe with the same characters, just a different MC.  And boy did it NOT hold up well to the test of time.  I remember liking Bronwyn (the MC) because she was her own person and powerful and didn’t let anyone intimidate her.  And she’s till all those things, but the rest of her is just so emotionally shallow and her romance was written … well, I’ve read more believable romances in 80’s teen fiction.  The non-romance part of the book didn’t do so well either.  The antagonists were all juvenile in the extreme (they all kept saying “Die Witch!”) and it was all just so silly.

I also got extremely irritated with the author re-writing history: Like a Charm takes place before Christmas and the characters’ relationship is resolved and their embracing their HEA well before then.  But this book takes place 3 months later and there are scenes with Kira and Caleb where they’re still in the hand holding stage and haven’t yet “done the nasty”.

Anyway – not a great book.

Like a Charm

Like a CharmLike a Charm
by Candace Havens
Rating: ★★★½
isbn: 9780425219263
Publication Date: February 5, 2008
Pages: 289
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Publisher: Berkley

 

I’ve had a few books by Candace Havens on the shelves for over a decade, and the other night I decided I had to re-read them; I remembered the broad strokes, but not much else.  I started with this one, Like a Charm and it held up surprisingly well, for the kind of story it is.

Like a Charm is a paranormal romance, but really the romance is only about half the story, the rest is about the MC, Kira, picking herself up and putting herself back together after a horrific work related experience that left her traumatised and seriously ill.  She goes back to her hometown and reconnects with the residents and her family, and while she’s there, the town librarian dies, a woman who was like a second mom to her.  Kira is bequeathed an extraordinary inheritance, and must weight accepting it against going back to her highly successful law career.

Of course that other half of the story is Caleb.  Caleb has all the requirements of a romantic hero: of course he’s hot, and he’s a carpenter, BUT only on the side, when he’s not running around the world being a highly successful investigative reporter, and of course he’s rich, although you’d never know it unless he’s in a suit.  And of course he’s a gentleman of the southern variety, holding doors, paying for everything – but only in the most enlightened and charming fashion.  I’m used to this sort of stuff in what few romances I read, and I accept that it’s a winning formula for a reason.  But where things got really out-of-date, was the whole first time in bed scene.  It was just soooo cheesy.

As is obvious, I enjoyed the non-romantic half more.  It was largely an ode to books and libraries and the book-title-author name dropping was fun.  It was a light, fun read that went fast.

 

I’ve decided to use this for the Raven/Free Square on my Halloween Bingo 2021 card.  It’s full of magic and I-see-dead-people and is set in a small town run and protected by a coven of witches.

Mama Rides Shotgun (Mace Bauer, #2)

Mama Rides ShotgunMama Rides Shotgun
by Deborah Sharp
Rating: ★★★
isbn: 9780738713304
Series: Mace Bauer #2
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
Pages: 336
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink

Mama's fixin' to get hitched to Husband #5. But first, she coerces her daughter, Mace, to saddle up for some country-gal bonding on the Florida Cracker Trail.

The trek takes a deadly turn when Lawton Bramble—wealthy rancher and one-time beau of Mama's—keels over in his Cow Hunter Chili. Lawton had a horde of enemies and a famously bad ticker. Could a grudge-wielding rival have "spiced" the cattleman's chow?

With (or maybe despite) the help of her sisters and her sexy ex-beau, Detective Martinez, Mace sets out to corral a low-down varmint who's determined to kill again.


 

Re-read update:  This book did not hold up well on re-read.  I had the same issue with the re-invention of the first book’s history, and the rest of it, even though I didn’t remember who the murderer was, I found extremely tedious and meandering.

Here’s hoping the third book holds up better.

Killer Wedding (Madeline Bean, #3)

Killer WeddingKiller Wedding
by Jerrilyn Farmer
Rating: ★★★★★
isbn: 9780380795987
Series: Madeline Bean #3
Publication Date: June 7, 2000
Pages: 256
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: HarperCollins

Although not about to say "I do" anytime soon, hip party-planner Madeline Bean is no stranger to the phenomenon known as the LA wedding; the good, the bad and the kind where the party lasts longer than the marriage. Still, Maddie never expected to be the guest of Vivian Duncan, the West Coast's grande dame of wedding consultants, at a lavish affair held amidst the dramatically lit fossils in the Nature Museum's Hall of Dinosaurs.

While checking out the glittering event, Maddie, with her keen event planner's instinct, realizes something is not quite right, but what? The groom is on time. The bride is beautiful. And a corpse wearing a Cartier bracelet is dangling from the triceratops skeleton. Ah, yes.

That. With people disappearing and the bride in tears, Maddie just may be the next species to become extinct...unless she can reveal the murderer fast.

Quicker than she can whip up a white chocolate wedding cake, Maddie follows the trail deep into dark jungles---urban and otherwise---amid tantalizing tales of smuggled gems, while fending off a nervous bridegroom, a crazed carjacker, and a half-naked ice-sculptor and his trusty chainsaw. Along the way, she discovers something old, something new, something deadly and something a wedding pro should never, ever do.


I love this book, it holds up so well to re-reading.  Part of what makes the story so fascinating is what the author shares in her acknowledgements at the start of the book.  A chance meeting with a fascinating gentleman in a crammed hotel breakfast room, and the background of this book is born.

Maddie and friends are temporarily shut down while they battle a non-compete clause being upheld by the company that bought out their now defunct catering business.  The premiere wedding planner in LA wants out and thinks if she acts like Maddie is buying her out, then Maddie actually will.  All of this culminates in Maddie and co. being invited to a wedding at the Natural History Museum, where she finds a dead body draped over the main dinosaur display.  Trying to be nice and lend a helping hand to the deceased’s family, she stumbles on an amazing story involving smuggling and a fabulous treasure, of sorts.

What also makes this a great story is that it was written at a time when a cozy could be a cozy without being so far up its own prudish backside that it doubled as a See Jane Run story for children.  Sex scenes are modest, but the author isn’t afraid to use f bombs judiciously and where they’re most effective.  This book’s characters read like they could be real people in the real world, and they’re the kind you’d see yourself liking.

It’s nice to see an old favorite can remain a favorite after 20 years.

Fair Game (Alpha and Omega, #3)

Fair GameFair Game
by Patricia Briggs
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 0441020038
Series: Alpha and Omega #3
Publication Date: March 9, 2012
Pages: 293
Genre: Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace

You know what’s really aggravating about deciding to re-read an old favorite series?  Discovering that you don’t actually own a print copy of the first book.  That’s been remedied – though I had to settle for a paperback, grumblegrumble, but I couldn’t wait.  So I grabbed what I thought was the next book in the series, Fair Game.  It isn’t, by the way, the next book.  I skipped over one; it was late, I was tired and angry about Cry Wolf, and, oh, who cares, it’s a re-read.

Reading my original review, I didn’t care for this book as much as the others.  Yet, when I think back on the series, this is the one I remember best.  Re-reading it, I find that I rate it higher than I originally did; 4 stars instead of 3.5.  It’s still all kinds of dark and deeply disturbed in plot, but I didn’t find Charles’ inevitable crises, and his reaction to it, quite as irritating as I did that first time.  Likely because this time I knew it was a crises that wouldn’t last beyond the book itself.

I’m looking forward to re-read all the books in the series – after my copy of Cry Wolf arrives, that is.  There’s a new one coming out next March, and I need to catch up before it arrives.

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1)

Moon CalledMoon Called
by Patricia Briggs
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780441013814
Series: Mercy Thompson #1
Publication Date: January 31, 2006
Pages: 288
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace

Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, and while she was raised by werewolves, she can never be one of them, especially after the pack ran her off for having a forbidden love affair. So she’s turned her talent for fixing cars into a business and now runs a one-woman mechanic shop in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State.

But Mercy’s two worlds are colliding. A half-starved teenage boy arrives at her shop looking for work, only to reveal that he’s a newly changed werewolf—on the run and desperately trying to control his animal instincts. Mercy asks her neighbor Adam Hauptman, the Alpha of the local werewolf pack, for assistance.

But Mercy’s act of kindness has unexpected consequences that leave her no choice but to seek help from those she once considered family—the werewolves who abandoned her…


This one started out slow for me, although reliable friends recommended it to me so I wan’t too worried I wouldn’t love it.

The story really kicked in for me once they hit Montana and I was hooked from there. I like Mercy – she’s got enough humour about her to keep the whole thing from feeling too dark. Adam is exactly what Adam should be!  Zee is fun and Stephan is, again, what he should be. So a great cast of characters you can get involved with.

The plot itself was delightfully labyrinthian – not so complex you couldn’t follow it, but complex enough to keep you guessing right up until the very end, when even the bad guys were somewhat sympathetic.

I’m not yet ready to add this series to my top 5 list, but I’ll definitely be reading the next book as soon as possible.