by Eve Langlais, fantasy (2010)
Liquid Silver Books, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-764-4
Eve Langlais's Wickedest Witch is one of those romantic comedies with supernatural elements.
The witch in question is Evangeline Rasputin. Men fear her even as they want to bed her. Well, when the story opens, our shifter hero Ryker is drinking himself silly when he notices a hot woman walking into the bar. When the bartender informs him of who Evangeline is, Ryker in alcohol-induced bravado makes a bet with the bartender that he can coax a smile from that infamous witch. When she trips him out of his stool onto his rear end and dumps beer over his head moments later, he's in love. Luckily for Ryker, Evangeline can't help noticing how hot he is despite the fact that he smells of beer and he uses some of the worst pick-up lines ever on her.
The thing is, Evangeline isn't the tall and glamorous woman he sees in the bar. She's actually rather short and is on the plump side - she uses glamor to look like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, because she realized quickly since she entered the witch business that being petite isn't an easy way to command people's respect. Being tall and glamorous, however, is. When she and Ryker are forced to work together by Rumpelstiltkin, however, sparks fly whether or not how she looks like.
Sounds interesting, this story? Well, think again. Perhaps I am not the right person to appreciate Ms Langlais's brand of comedy, but frankly, I find Ryker a complete creep without any charm to balance his more uncouth behavior. Let me put it this way - when he calls or thinks of Evangeline as a "dyke" or "bitch", he's not being playful. For a long time, he's being a disagreeable jerk without any playful or warm side to balance the coarseness. As a result, I feel like I need a long hot bath just from reading about him. I know we all love our shifters to be crude and mean, but this guy is just an asshole for too long. Meanwhile, Evangeline's reactions to his more obnoxious antics are to lose her temper, shriek, or do stupid things. The relationship between these two is akin to a playground bully systematically causing an overly emotional young lady to break down and make a fool of herself. I wish the hero has shown more of a playful and likable side and the heroine had more control over her emotions.
It's a pity that I can't bring myself to care about the romance, because everything else about the story is pretty cute. The setting is plenty of fun to read and the secondary characters bring plenty of unique flavor to the story. I also like how Ms Langlais attempts to address that, aside from the mate mate mate thing, Ryker also loves Evangeline. Most authors take for granted that the so-called biological bond between a shifter and his girlfriend is enough to be passed off as love, but Ms Langlais tries to go a bit further with her romance here, and I can respect that.
There are plenty to like in Wickedest Witch, so it's just too bad that I can't get into the romance at all.
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