by Jody Wallace, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-228-2
Meet Liam Connell. He's a leprechaun. No, he's not six inches tall and he doesn't look like the monster in those B-grade movies. You can't tell him apart from any random hot guy, really, apart from the shamrock-shaped irises and his skin that is "flaky as phyllo dough". Eeeuw, skin dandruff. Don't worry, though, the skin thing is not a normal condition. The peeling skin is a sign that Liam's magic is nearly depleted - he can't remain in our human world for much longer. The reason Liam is here is to... well, it has something to do with earning a political seat and helping to bring changes to his people. It's easier than trying to run for election, I suppose.
Bad skin condition isn't Liam's sole problem. A rogue leprechaun who has been stealing other fae folk's energy all this while to extend his stay in our world is fast encroaching on Liam's territory. Before Liam leaves, he decides to bed the woman he has a big crush on. She's going to be his "personal reward", you see. Don't you just adore men who believe that the world revolves around their pee-pee?
This is where his neighbor and our heroine Salvia Winter steps in. Liam knows this but Sal doesn't - Sal has the Finder ability; she can detect leprechauns and even make them grant her a wish. Sal has been infatuated with Liam for a long time now but he summons her over to his place only to ask her to fix whatever issue he has with his PC, so the poor darling is convinced that magic isn't going to happen between the two of them. When Liam makes the move on her, the poor dear for a moment is convinced that her dream has come true. Little does she know, that poor darling.
Don't worry about this being an asshole hero gone wild story, though. The author is smart enough to have the heroine giving the hero the dressing down he deserves, just as Ms Wallace allows Liam to have a nice epiphany about what a twit he has been. The characters' romance feels most believable in this case because the characters are forced to re-examine their feelings for each other and move beyond mere infatuation before they decide to give their relationship another go. This isn't a simple and unrealistic "We had great sex, so it's love, baby!" story, in other words. Ms Wallace attempts to show me that her characters talk, argue, and think things through before embarking on a happily ever after, and I think she's done a good job here.
The resolution of the subplot feels rushed and I personally feel that the villain could have been excised from the author to allow the characters to focus more on their relationship, but still, the romantic component of this short story makes up considerably for any weaknesses that it may have.
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