by Ann Macela, paranormal (2007)
Medallion Press, $7.99, ISBN 978-1933836-16-4
Unlike the author's previous book which pokes some fun at the formula the story is adhering to, Do You Believe In Magic? follows the formula so strictly without much wry humor poking gentle fun at its own expense that this book feels like... well, the very thing that the previous book pokes gentle fun at.
For example, the author has the female magic-casting folks staying virginal and pure until they meet their soulmates, but the male practitioners, of warlocks (of which hero Clay Morgan is one) apparently get to sleep with non-practitioner females while they wait for their soulmates to show up. Let's overlook the implication that such females are "easy games" of the "sleep with, but not marry" variety, because I don't think the author intends such an implication to come up. Rather, this seems to be just one of the unfortunate consequences of following a formula too closely. Anyway, too much testosterone in the warlocks is given as the reason for the hero's contrived state of non-virginity. This means that the hero is pretty much just like every playboy hero out there who isn't so willing to commit to a steady relationship.
The heroine, Francie Stevens, is another stereotype - the woman who has been broken-hearted by the failure of a love affair. The man took her virginity and stomped her heart so now she will never trust a pretty face again and acts unreasonably suspicious when confronted with Clay. She behaves like a neurotic bimbo silly enough to let her lousy previous relationship shape her entire perception about love and sex. In other words, she's that kind of heroine.
Then there is the plot, which is, like the hero and heroine, straight out of a contrived Harlequin category romance thing. There is a bad guy on the loose, using Francie's PC to snoop around the files of Francie's workplace Brazos Chemical. The people investigating the matter have Francie tailed and now they know that the boyfriend of Francie's best friend is behind this. Don't ask me why this fellow needs to access Francie's PC specifically to hack into the workplace database. At any rate, Clay, who is paid big bucks to lead the investigation, comes up with the best plan to catch the fellow in this situation: he and Francie will pretend to be dating! Clay, who thinks he is God's gift to women, has full intentions of going beyond this pretense and making Francie his latest notch in his bedpost, but she is his soulmate, et cetera, and they both have issues, et cetera.
The characters remain pretty much one-dimensional stereotypes here and it is especially tedious to follow the predictable and boring Clay and Francie as they mechanically go through the motions of a fake courtship, sex, tired and familiar baggages, et cetera. The author has her characters speaking in a stilted manner to the point that everyone sounds alike after all, which doesn't make things any better.
With its very, very, very, very, very familiar characters, storylines, and all, coupled to several plot developments that feel really contrived beginning with the fake boyfriend-girlfriend thing, Do You Believe In Magic? is a forgettable and even boring story. Maybe if the hero is a virgin there may be something a little different here, but Ms Macela doesn't even allow that to happen. There is no magic here, sorry. Maybe the next book?
This book at Amazon.com
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