by Monica Jackson, paranormal (2010)
Red Rose Publishing, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-60435-639-7
When Mia Washington agrees to what she believes to be her dying Aunt Estella's final wishes, she has no idea how binding her agreement is. She had thought Aunt Estella to be a harmless eccentric who sold love charms and other trinkets to her clients, but the book of spells handed on by Aunt Estella to her seems ominously real.
Mia doesn't think she believes that the book is real, but that doesn't stop her cousin Brenda from asking for a love charm. Brenda claims that she is pregnant and the father, Grey Taylor, wants her to get rid of the baby. If Mia can cast a spell that can make Grey love Brenda, then Brenda will be the happiest woman in the world. Because Mia doesn't want to see Brenda being forced to abort her baby, she reluctantly agrees. First, she has to collect 21 strands of Grey's pubic hair for the spell...
Charm Me, Baby is an unusual story, I have to say. The story starts out in one direction, and then takes me through so many unexpected twists and turns that I end up just going along for the ride, occasionally wondering what I have gotten myself into.
My issue with this story is that the set up involving Brenda is pretty over the top and hard to believe. I know, this is odd, considering how the later parts of the story have demons and more. The weak set-up and the presence of some one-dimensional villains give this story a silly cartoon feel. The story also displays a pretty abrupt transition from a paranormal romance atmosphere to a full blown urban fantasy scenario involving demons and such.
However, the author always displays a narrative verve in her writing that engages my attention easily and has me turning the pages just to find out what happens next. Indeed, when the author plunges the main characters full blown into urban fantasy territory, that is when the pace picks up and the story becomes most entertaining in a campy and fun manner. The characters are likable. A part of me wonders whether they are being too sanguine in the face of the supernatural circumstances they find themselves in, but I'm having enough fun to overlook that matter. It also helps that both characters are likable and capable types with good chemistry.
In the end, I find Charm Me, Baby a rather uneven story due to the early parts of the story that have me scratching my head a bit. It takes a considerable moment for it to find its stride, and only then does the entertainment bit kicks in with style. All in all, this is not a bad read, but it could have been more tightly paced and developed better.
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