Wicked Enchantment
by Anya Bast, fantasy (2010)
Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 978-0425232018

Wicked Enchantment is supposed to be the start of a new series, but it contains so many references to the author's novella Sweet Enchantment in the anthology Hot For The Holidays that I spend a considerable time in a confused daze as a result. If this is the first book in a series, why is the author making references to past events that I have no clue about? Sure enough, it is only when I put the book aside to look up the author's backlist that I realize that I'm supposed to be such a big fan of hers that I would pay money for an anthology to follow her series. Honey, I don't even do that for Marjorie M Liu, and I'm a fan of her books.

Wicked Enchantment takes place in both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, comprising fae folks who are forced to dwell in secret, even underground, places as a result of the joint action of the druids, called the Phaendir, and humans. In this one, the Unseelie half-incubus Gabriel Cionaodh Marcus Mac Braire, shows up one day in the Seelie court, requesting to be allowed to be part of the Seelie court after he has renounced his ties with his former people. The Queen of the Seelie Court asks our heroine Aislinn Christiana Guinevere Finvarra - I'm surprised Ms Bast managed to resist sneaking in a Renesmee into the heroine's name - to help show Gabriel around. Gabriel soon makes the move on her - he's a half-incubus, remember, a shorthand for Mad Hot Sexy Permanent Erection - but Aislinn, who has been dumped in a public breakup recently, pays lip service about wanting to resist his charms.

Of course, Gabriel has a secret mission. The King of the Unseelie Court wants Aislinn to come over and become a member of the Court, and he wants Gabriel to use his super-sized magic urban fantasy sexy hero pee-pee power to make that happen. You see, Gabriel's pee-pee power can make a woman so madly in love with him that she will lose her will to do anything but to obey his commands. And with Aislinn fresh from a break-up, she is ripe for Gabriel's plucking.

You may expect from reading my synopsis that this is a very sexy story. I hate to dash your hopes, but Gabriel doesn't spend much time with his pee-pee power poised for action. This story serves more like an information dumping ground for readers new to the series. The plot of this story is paper-thin, and the characters then proceed to spend way too much time discussing their kind - an obvious method of the author to fill readers in on her setting - than to boink or do anything else that is remotely interesting. The information dumping occurs frequently, often disrupting the momentum and flow of a scene, and puzzlingly, there are many instances where the author dumps the exact same information that she has unloaded on the reader just a few pages before. Some tighter editing to remove the repetitive information dump would have gone a long way to make this story far more enjoyable to read.

Also, this story sets up the next book in this series, and this subplot features a character named Gideon. While Gabriel and Gideon are not similar, early in the story I get momentarily disconcerted when Gideon suddenly shows up. I'm already distracted by references to Sweet Enchantment by that point, so I can only go, "Eh? Gideon? Who is this guy again? I thought his name was Gabriel?"

Okay, about the romance. It's dreadfully dull. For a hot half-incubus stereotype with pee-pee power poised for action, Gabriel is one of the most dreadful seducers I've ever come across in a romance novel of this kind. He spends more time arguing about politics with Aislinn, so much so that Aislinn correctly points out many times that, for someone wanting to decamp to the Seelie Court, his allegiance lies clearly with the Unseelie Court. Way to go, smooth Romeo! However, even when Aislinn has her suspicions about Gabriel, she doesn't report to the Queen or do anything else about her suspicions. She just keeps hanging around Gabriel, shivering with desire that she tries not to feel. It's hard to care for a couple like this when they just keep going around in circles, doing nothing of interest for so long.

Also, I'm not sure how the logistics work in this story. Gabriel is the Lord of the Hunt, so every night he's supposed to lead a hunt to collect souls of dead fae and ferry them to the Netherworld. And yet he's also supposed to run around babbling about politics and blowing his cover seducing Aislinn? How does he fit all that into his schedule? From what I can see, Gabriel's ill-planned side career as the Lord of the Hunt on top of being Master Pee-pee Power is just an excuse for Ms Bast to introduce another favorite trope in romantic urban fantasy: Aislinn has Super Special Powers that turn out to complement Gabriel's perfectly.

To sum things up, Wicked Enchantment reads like a dumping ground for information about the setting, with some half-baked romance comprising all the popular and overused tropes of the genre tossed together to pass the whole thing off as the first book in a new series. The only enchantment this book casts on me is that spell that makes me feel most sleepy indeed.

Rating: 60

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