My Loving Familiar
by CJ Card, historical/paranormal (2000)
Jove, $5.99, ISBN 0-515-12728-0

Good news? This book is a far more superior effort than the author's last work - what was the name of that book again? One Wish, that's right. Bad news? Where do you want me to start?

Jeez, where did all these below-average books keep coming from?

Isabel Gomez is a half-Indian half-Spaniard witch who has a magical cat Grimalkin. She runs a herbal business, and when she needs money, she sells off her mother's trading post to one Cooper Adair who has come here to Florida to open a - gasp! - modern pharmacy. When Isabel finds out about Cooper's plan, she's not too pleased.

So what if Cooper is the most gorgeous blonde this side of town? All the more better for her to concoct some love spell thing that will have Cooper falling - in love of course, for remember, Isabel is our heroine, hence she has no slutty thoughts in her head - for her. Her plan is that Cooper's fiancee Marcella (the other woman - guess what sort of woman she is) would get jealous, give Cooper the heave-ho, and Cooper would go back to Philadelphia and out of Isabel's life forever.

If Isabel's plans don't alert me enough of the state of her intelligence, further things that the author kindly knocks me in the head with only reinforce my opinion of Isabel's state of mind. She is not only a bungler, botching up all her half-baked plans because she can't resist - oh golly me! - a pretty face like Cooper. And since our heroine's a Pure Pristine Heroine (you know how I, as a romance reader, hate hate hate hate hate hate hate heroines who dare tell one teeny weeny lie, right?) I am bombarded with lots of hand-wringings and Oh me dear me! from Isabel. And to make Isabel even more Romantic, the author has Isabel shedding tears freely at sentimental moments.

Could've worked, if Isabel doesn't end up a totally contrived character, her desperate Like me! Like me! I'm virtuous! See? characterization coming off as totally forced. Eeurgh.

Then there's Cooper, who, in the grand tradition of blond jokes, has me suspecting that it's helium, not grey cells, that fills the cavity in his cranium. This man is in love with Marcella who's as bad as any Other Woman anyone can rent from Cruela DeVil's Rent-A-Hag Store. He thinks Isabel's a dirty, cheating, thieving, no good woman because she has Indian blood. He spies on our heroine bathe twice while telling Marcella he loves her. All the while he bungles through the story acting like he is constipated with a ten feet uranium pole shoved up where the sun never shine on him.

Isn't Cooper oblivious or what? Definitely not the kind of guy I would want to read about.

Irritatingly wimpy and incompetent heroine + prudish, blockheaded hero = Recipe for a forgettable, annoying read that is far from romantic, much less enjoyable.

Rating: 46

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