Mulligan Magic
by Deb Stover, contemporary (2003)
Jove (Irish Eyes), $5.99, ISBN 0-515-13511-9


Deb Stover's newest book combines a now ubiquitous ex-cop bent on vengeance guy, the schoolteacher heroine, kids, bad guys, and some annoying Magic Voices In Dark Passages paranormal elements that just won't go away. Mulligan Magic is an okay book, very nice when it comes to the hero, okay when it comes to the heroine, passable in the suspense angle, but damn, those Magic Voices just won't shut up. How annoying.

Nick Desmond is what he calls himself as a "rent a pig" PI. He quitted the force after his Daddy, also his hero, was murdered by a drug kingpin, and now he takes on assignments that only make him even more miserable. Then one day comes the wife of this kingpin, who offers him lots of money and more importantly, a way to avenge his father, in return of helping her and her daughter start a new life under new identities in lovely Ireland. Because everybody goes to Ireland when they're unhappy. Or something.

That's how Maggie, our heroine, meets Nick. She returns to Ireland to be with her Mulligan family and she teaches at the school where Erin, the daughter of the kingpin, goes to. (When you live under a new identity, you just change your last name, and when you have lots of money, you forget to surgically change a few features of your face first.) But Nick wants revenge, while Maggie, well, what do you think a stereotypical "I've never dated when I was young, I work around kiddies, and other than that, nothing much, but who needs personality?" heroine wants?

Nick and Maggie are stereotypical characters that never deviate from the shape of their mould. But at least Nick is a bearable stereotype because at least he isn't a walking bunch of sexual/behavioral contrivances like Maggie. While the external plot is readable, the annoying Magic Voices All In Italics start coming out in full force as the story progresses. Instead of the author trying to develop the romance, it's all about the Magic Voices and cop-out concepts like destiny and crock.

Readable is as good as this book gets when it comes to my impression of it. The characters are stereotypes, the romantic developments are all about "Ireland! Woo-hoo! Magic Voices In Lonely Hallways!" theatrics rather than any genuine effort in developing understanding and trust (what does it say about a couple that literally requires magic to bring them together?), and all in all, a book that could have taken a few extra steps to be different and better but prefers not to. Oh well. I've read worse, for what that's worth.

Rating: 64


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