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Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Author: Linda Wisdom
Plot Type: CH, SMR
Ratings: V5, S4, H5
Publisher and Titles: Sourcebooks Casablanca
        50 Ways to Hex Your Lover (2008) (Jazz Tremaine)
        Hex Appeal (2008) (Jazz Tremaine)
        Wicked by Any Other Name (2009) (Stasi Romanov)
        Hex in High Heels (2009) (Blair Fitzpatrick)
        Demons Are a Girl's Best Friend (2011) (Maggie O'Malley)
        A Demon Does It Better (2011) (Dr. Lili Carter)

     This blog entry was revised and updated on 12/27/11 to include a review of the sixth book in the series: A Demon Does It Better. That review is located at the very end of this entry, immediately following this brief summary of the series so far:

     In this world, the supernaturals keep themselves hidden from the mortals, and they rule themselves through the Vampire Protectorate, the Witches' Council, and the Ruling Council. The series tells the love stories of a group of witches who were banished from the Academy of Witches back in 1313 for misusing magic. In the first (and the best) two books, Jasmine “Jazz” Tremaine is a powerful witch who, for centuries, has been trying to redeem herself. Unfortunately, she keeps getting herself in more trouble, largely because of her smart mouth and impulsive behavior. These days, she splits her time between driving a limousine for All Creatures Limo Service and working for private clients as a curse breaker. Her on-and-off boyfriend is vampire detective Nikolai Gregorivich (aka “Nick Gregory”). Quirky secondary characters add to the humor (e.g., Norma, the chain-smoking ghost who haunts Jazz’s 1956 T-Bird; Dweezil, the ghoul who owns All Creatures; and Fluff and Puff, a pair of hungry bunny slippers with sharp teeth and a taste for sweets and human ankles). Books 3 and 4 tell the SMR stories of two of Jazz’s witchy classmates, Stasi and Blair, who live in a small town near a magical lake. Books 5 and 6 star two more of Jazz's witch friends (Maggie and Lili), each of whom takes a demon lover.

     Don't let the cover art on the books 5 and 6 books fool you. This series is not urban fantasy; it is a paranormal romance told in a chick lit manner—lots of fashion descriptions, coffee/pastry breaks, and girlfriend moments. The chick lit cover artwork on the earlier books is a better clue to the true identity of this series.

***   ***   *****   ***   ***

     In Demons Are a Girl's Best Friend, Maggie O’Malley is a witch who works as a Guardian for the Hellion Guard, which is a kind of special ops enforcement organization for the supernatural world. As Maggie explains it, "We're the SEALs, Recon, Green Berets, Rangers, and Black Ops all rolled into one violent package. We do the dirty work and make things go away" (p. 194). When Maggie chases down a demonic creature at a club called Damnation Alley, she meets the club’s sexy owner, Declan—a half-human fire demon. It’s lust at first sight, of course, and their very different backgrounds don’t create the amount of angst that you would expect. Declan comes across as a relatively wimpy demon, just a few small fire balls and some hissy-fang moments, but not much more. Although Declan claims to hate his demon heritage, he seems to love the perks: his club, his BMW, and his good looks. Maggie is a 100% stereotypical paranormal heroine, with her mouthy remarks and sarcastic attitude. She carries a lot of weapons, but never seems to use them, relying instead on witchy spells. Unfortunately, Maggie and Declan don’t have much chemistry; there’s no real spark between them.

     The story line has Maggie playing “Mom” to a teen-aged brat of a girl who is destined for a terrible fate at the hands of a mythical Mayan god of destruction. The author gives us a multitude of strange-looking supernatural creatures, but they intrude on the story instead of adding to it. For example, Maggie lives with Elle, a sentient, diamond-encrusted black widow spider who can morph from a tattoo on her shoulder to become a real spider that lives in a magical web and uses a tiny computer. The question here is…why? The spider does bite one bad guy during the climactic battle that ends the book, but really, it/she plays no part in the story. The spider's only reason for existence appears to be to add humor, but it’s the kind of “added-on” humor that doesn’t work because it has no connection to the plot. When a paranormal author throws in lots of weird creatures for no apparent reason, I usually find that the plot and the lead characters can’t stand on their own, and that is the case here.

     Without all of the weird-creature padding, the story in this book could have been told in half the number of pages. Here's how Maggie herself summarizes the plot: "A witch walks into a bar one night. Kills a Bloater, meets a demon, semi-adopts a teenage girl, and finds herself traveling south with the craziest group ever. Fates help us." (p. 338) I enjoyed the earlier books in this series, particularly the very funny Jazz Tremaine books (1 and 2 in the series). Books 3 and 4 weren’t too bad, either, but this one strikes out for me.

***   ***   *****   ***   ***

     As A Demon Does It Better opens, Dr. Lili Carter, a witch-healer, has taken a job at Crying Souls Hospital (for supernaturals) in San Francisco so that she can discover what happened to her friend, Sera. After Sera moved to California, Lili and Sera kept in touch daily, but suddenly Sera disappeared without a trace. This sort of disappearing act has happened a number of times recently at the hospital, and Lili is convinced that something bad is going on. Soon, Lili is assigned to work in the dungeon-like lower level of the hospital, where the mentally ill supernaturals are imprisoned under Medieval conditions. The hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Hieronymus Mortimer, spends most of his time doing mysterious and violent "therapy" on the mentally ill patients. His two thuggish ogre assistants make sure that no one enters the area without permission. In the meantime, a tall, handsome man seems to be following Lili around—showing up to smile at her in shops, restaurants, and even in Lili's own home. Lili soon learns that he is a shadow demon named Jared and that he happens to be one of the mentally ill patients locked in the dungeon. Somehow, his shadows allow him to leave his cell for short periods of time and roam around both San Francisco and the magical realm of Inderman. How exactly is this possible? Sorry, no details are provided. You just have to accept it on faith. Lili doesn't believe that Jared is insane, but how can she prove it?

     The story follows the relatively quick development of a romance between Lili and Jared as they try to solve the mystery of the women's disappearances. I believe that I might have liked this book better if the whole shadow/teleport concept had been better developed. Jared keeps appearing and disappearing, but he disappears only after he completes whatever actions he needs to do in order to move the plot along. He never disappears in the middle of something. For me, that was artificially convenientand obviously manipulative on the author's part. The humor level in this book is not as high as in the other books. Lili's cat, Cleo (who is the original Cleopatra in kitty form) provides the same type of silly humor that the spider does in Demons Are a Girl's Best Friend, but it grows old pretty fast. There is some cutesy dialogue between Lili and Jared and between Lili and her new friend, Deisphe, but it doesn't engender many laughs. The violence level is relatively high, and it comes in the dungeon scenes when the prisoners/patients are beaten and tortured. The sensuality level is about a 4 in the love scenes between Lili and Jared.

***   ***   *****   ***   ***
     If you like the tattoo/spider character in Demons Are a Girl's Best Friend and want to read a great UF series that includes tattoos that morph into sentient beings, you might want to try Marjorie M. Liu’s excellent HUNTER KISS series. That heroine has five tattoos on her body that serve as impenetrable armor, protecting her from physical harm. After sunset, the tattoos strip off to form five small demons who fight by her side. This is a dark UF series. Not much humor, but great characters and a compelling story arc.

     If you like humorous witchy stories, here are a few to try. They are all reviewed in my book, Fang-tastic Fiction: 21st Century Paranormal Reads, which is available on and in many libraries:
     Blair, Annette: ACCIDENTAL WITCH TRILOGY—V0, S4, H4 (SMR)
     Blair, Annette: TRIPLET WITCH TRILOGY—V1, S5, H4 (SMR)
     Hallaway, Tate: GARNET LACEY—V3, S3, H4 (CH)
     Havens, Candace: BRONWYN THE WITCH—V3, S3, H4 (CH)

1 comment:

  1. I have read three of your books and then loaned them to someone and never got them back....then couldn't remember your name and wanted to know more about you since I LOVED your books....bought a book by Ashlyn Chase and there you are in the back of her books...AH HA I found you...can't wait to read more of your books !!!!!!!
    Debbie Schlicher