Bell Bridge Books, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61194-835-6
Paranormal Romance, 2017
If you are hoping for a full length novel from Deborah Smith after a long, long while, well, I have some bad news: the cover price of $15.95 is for the trade paperback version of this novella. The Kitchen Charmer is a continuation of the story of Lucy Parmenter and Gus MacBride, which started in The Apple Pie Knights. Judging from the note at the last page, the story of this couple will continue in another short story. So, I guess, the author intends to sell the entire story as a serial.
In addition to the fact that this is a genuine sequel, I also do not recommend reading this without having read the other book first because this one has a pretty big cast and it can take some effort to figure out whom is giving a first person narration in a particular part of a chapter.
Anyway, the story. We are in full-blown paranormal extravaganza now as Lucy and Gus can “see” and “communicate” with one another, despite him doing his tour of duty in Afghanistan. There is something about how she’s a Charmer, he’s a Charmer, so their relationship will be twice charmed with all the goodies to come. Meanwhile, land issues turn dangerous when someone makes a grab for Lucy’s bosom. In addition to being even more paranormal-ish than previous stories in the The MacBrides series, this one is also turning into some kind of melodrama more at home in a soap opera, with cliffhangers and what not.
I don’t know. This one is certainly well written enough, but I feel that it actually does not play up to the author’s strengths, which are evocative emotions often laced with poetry and whimsical, eccentric larger than life portrayals of both the light and dark sides of falling in love. This one is more of a straightforward soap opera arc sprinkled with paranormal woo-woo stuff that feels more distracting than anything else. I miss getting misty-eyed and bawling my heart out the way I did when I read the author’s books in the past. Here, the characters resemble more like a gimmicky traits cobbled together than coherent, believable personalities.
Oh, and if your political beliefs lean right, tread carefully. This one, more than any of the author’s works in the past, portrays the right in an almost singularly negative manner that borders on overwrought hyperbole. I don’t know why, maybe the current President of the United States being you-know-who has caused the melodramatic vitriol to anyone who doesn’t share one’s beliefs to ramp up, but I find myself rolling up my eyes at this whole thing. It’s so shallow and one-dimensional, when I know that the author can surely demonize the right in a more readable, graceful manner.
Anyway, this one has some pretty prose, and I can’t say it is a particularly bad story. But it is a pretty bad Deborah Smith story, if you can get what I’m trying to say here, and I have zero interest at the moment in wanting to know what happens next to Gus and Lucy. Not if doing so will only make me miss more keenly the author whose works I used to enjoy so, so much.