Monday, February 15, 2010

Bippity Boppity Boo

If you've hung around the Bat Cave for five minutes, you are probably well aware that I am beyond burnt out on paranormals. I'm at the point where I'm flat out not buying them (for my personal reading needs, I'm still buying bunches for work) and the only time I read one is this time of year when I have homework reading for my library's literary event. So behold Bat Cave followers, a true rare wonder! An actual paranormal romance review from yours truly!

Going into 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover by Linda Wisdom, I was honestly only hoping it wouldn't drive me insane. Even before I was burnt out on paranormals, I was never a fan of the Funny Ha-Ha ones. Hell, I'm not a fan of Funny Ha-Ha in any type of romance novel. Period. But again, homeworking reading. And while this one certainly didn't light my world on fire, it also didn't have me running for the nearest bottle of vodka either.

Jasmine "Jazz" Tremaine is a 700 year old witch who works as a part-time chauffeur and a part-time "curse eliminator." Having been banished by the Witches' High Council (along with 12 of her friends), she's essentially going about her business, living her life, until the Powers That Be decide she's been a good lil' witch and can come back into the fold. Until then, she's hardly breaking a sweat over it.

Unfortunately for Jazz, her nice orderly life is about to get complicated. Nikolai Gregorivich AKA Nick Gregory is back in town and has waltzed back into her life. Nick is a vampire, and their on-again, mostly off-again relationship has been riding the merry-go-round for about 300 years. She hasn't seen his sexy, sorry behind in 70-odd years and now he's come back to ask for her help in solving the mystery of some missing-in-action vampires. Well no way, and no how. Every time Jazz helps Nick she either ends up in his bed, or in jail, and she's not falling for his charms again. That's what she's telling herself anyway....

There was actually quite a bit about this story that I rather enjoyed. The Southern California setting (mostly Pasadena/L.A. area) was well done and Jazz has her charms (literally and figuratively). I also really, really, really (this can't be overstated) enjoyed the fact that the author did not ignore the history of her two main characters. By far and away my biggest pet peeve with paranormals is that you have some frickin' old ass character (let's go with 700 year old vampire hero) who has seen all these things, witnessed all these events and lived a life (OK, an "undead" life) rich with what 700 years will give a person and yet he falls in lurve with some 22-year-old brain-dead bimbo? Seriously?! Once they stop having sex like bunnies, what the hell do they have in common? No, really. What? I wanna know. In the case of this story, Jazz and Nick are both "old," have a shared past, and history is actually mentioned. Jazz remembers the Civil War, when the Hollywood sign was Hollywood Land and the various witch trials throughout history. Loved this. Loved it!

Unfortunately what doesn't work so well is the pacing of this story which was on life support very early on. The plot description I gave above is essentially what is on the back cover blurb. Yet Jazz pretty much avoids Nick, and they don't meet to even discuss his missing vampire problem until page 113 of a 361 page book. And even after her and Nick "talk" - it's not like he's hanging around all that much. They don't spend a ton of page time together, which makes buying into the "romance" (even if they have been an on-again, off-again item for 300 years) a bit of an issue. Also, the villain is suitably bad-ass, off-the-charts creepy, yet the he's given very little screen time. The guy is so vile that I thought it was to the detriment of this story that the author didn't take more advantage of his existence. Seriously - he's way creepy.

At the end of the day, what we have is a very light (cotton candy light) urban fantasy slash paranormal romance that is filled with cutesy-wootsy (creepy, evil villain aside). Jazz has a classic car that is haunted by the ghost of an annoying 1950s, chain-smoking housewife and a pair of possessed bunny slippers named Fluff and Puff. Is it silly? Yes. Is it slapstick? Not necessarily in my mind (no pratfalls and only a handful of fart references) - although I survived the unfortunate romantic comedy trend in the genre some years back (which I still have psychological scars from by the way).

If you're a reader who knows, upfront, that light, Funny Ha-Ha, cutesy paranormals just don't work for you? In my opinion, there's nothing in 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover that is likely to change your mind. However, if you can't get enough of this sort of book? If you wish all paranormals were light, cotton candy confections that you could gorge endlessly on? This one is worth a look - and happy day for you, it's the first book in a series.

Final Grade = C


Tara Marie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Marie said...

...I was never a fan of the Funny Ha-Ha ones.

I have to admit I stopped reading the review right here, scanned down to the bottom "C". Then I read the review. They're not my thing either and no matter how many I try I have yet to find one I liked. Your C doesn't inspire me to pick this one up.

(I deleted my first comment--spelling mistakes)

Wendy said...

Tara: This one easily could have landed in my B-/B range if not for the pacing issues - which I found really problematic. As it is it landed as a C which is code for "I had issues, but it didn't drive me to drink and hey, you might like it more than I did."

Of all the "silly" books I've read of the years - this one didn't really offend. And oh lordy - do I have library patrons who eat stuff like this up!

mslizalou said...

I agree with the pacing issues of the book. I do however, love Jazz's bunny slippers...wouldn't ever want a pair like them, but they were funny.

Wendy said...

Liza: It was honestly the pacing issues that held me back from really enjoying this story. I think if that had been "tighter" - I would have wasted no time in getting my hands on book two.

CindyS said...

Uh seriously? Fart jokes? Nope, can't cope. And I've read the so called 'funny' and been thumped but I have to admit that Janet Evanovich's mysteries can almost make me pee (the earlier books) and I think I've cracked off my weird fascination with MJD.


Wendy said...

Cindy: Not really jokes per se, more like references. The heroine has to drive this disgusting, slimey (think Jabba The Hut) creature around as part of her chauffeur job. His entire existence in the story would have been pointless except the author uses him as a bit of a factor at the end.

Re: The Plum series - what I find funny tends to be the dialogue. The cars blowing up got old about 13 books ago :)

MJD is one of those authors I never "got." I've enjoyed short stories by her, but full-length novels?