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Barbara Bretton's Casting Spells

So, I want to start recording and reviewing the books I read because I've love reading reviews and perhaps others do to. I read this about a week ago and it wasn't an especially deep or enduring read, but I'll do my best to give it a coherent review.

Amazon summary: Sugar Maple looks like any Vermont town, but it’s inhabited with warlocks, sprites, vampires, witches—and an ancient secret. And Chloe Hobbs, owner of Sticks & String, a popular knitting shop, has a big secret too. She’s a sorcerer’s daughter in search of Mr. Right—and she’s found him in Luke MacKenzie, a cop investigating Sugar Maple’s very first murder. Bad news is he’s 100% human, which could spell disaster for a normal future with a paranormal woman like her.

[3/5 stars]This book was sweet. Really, really sweet. And shallow. Pretty much the definition of fluff. 

I found the romance between the two characters to be clearly contrived for the sake of the story and there was a strange fixation on physical beauty throughout the whole novel. When Luke first arrives in town, he gives the women he sees nicknames which I can't remember specifically, but they all followed the same format of Beautiful Actress-look alike. He thought the town and the women were too beautiful to be real. Naturally, they were. When he sees Chloe, he describes her as plain, in comparison to the others, but if she were say in the real world she would definitely be considered gorgeous. Bottomline, she's beautiful. So, her self-deprecating descriptions of herself got annoying fast. In practically the same words, she described herself as tall, blonde, with small boobs. She was really hung up on her boob size. And I felt it was depicted as a flaw so she wasn't incredibly beautiful. 

The romance was of the insta-love variety. The moment they were in the same room with each other sparks were flying. And when they weren't in the same room, they couldn't stop thinking or talking about the other. Nothing about their interaction made them seem particularly meant to be like it was implied. They were just in love, no questions asked. Of course, the two of them realized they were falling in love too quickly, so then they tried to put some distance between other. Que the thinking and talking about the other.

Chloe's incredibly beautiful and talented friends were bland and irritating. I think I disliked their characters the most. They were portrayed as being super-supportive and super-awesome besties. I thought they were awful friends. Whenever Chloe mentioned Luke or looked like she was thinking about Luke, the friends tried to shame her into dismissing him because zomg! he's human. Chloe is half human and she was interested in this guy, but they gave her feelings the finger. These are her friends and they're just looking out for her, so Chloe never got irritated that they kept shoving blind dates down her throat. The reason why is also the thing I hate most about the book. Chloe needs to get married and have babies to continue to keep the family line going and to keep the town in the protective bubble of magic.

Why don't I like it? Because the women of the Hobbs family are matriarchs. They are powerful sorceress. They've kept violence out and peace in in Sugar Maple through their awesome abilities. And they can only get this magic throught the power of True Love. They only get one and if they don't find him, oh well for Sugar Maple. So, in order for these powerful women to be powerful, they need a man. And love. So, Chloe Hobbs is literally searching for Mr. Right. Now, her friends don't care if she finds True Love and taps into her hidden powers. They've pretty much given her up for a lost and just want those babies to keep the Hobb line going. 

The only characters I thought I could have enjoyed the most were the Fae. Except, one of the Fae was the best friend who loves "plain jane" Chloe, but she only sees him as a friend. And then he dies, which I thought was a poor deal for him. The other two Fae were the bad guys, except one of them dies and the other is banished to the Fae World by Chloe who has just learned how to use her powers. This Fae was hundreds and hundreds of years old and powerful and vengeful cause Chloe caused the death of her two sons, but Chloe just packed her away simple as that. Bretton tried to turn it around in the last chapter saying Chloe had done a simple spell, so she needed to reinforce it before Fae Lady broke it down. That just made it worst for me. If she had said Chloe's emotions, because she thought Luke was dead, had overriden her limited skill that would have worked, but it just seems all powerful Fae Lady got defeated by a beginner. Cause that makes sense.

Finally, Chloe's mother was a sorceress and her father was human. Her father couldn't hack it in the perfect world of Sugar Maple so he tried to leave. Chloe's mother put a spell on him and forced him to stay until he died in a car crash along with her. I'm sorry, what? And Chloe's only concern was she was going to do the same thing with her human True Love, so she had to sit on her hands to just let him go. In fact, apparently everyone thought Chloe got the slaveholder gene from her mother, so it was like what will she do? Let him leave? Force him to stay? Really? Really? Is this really a question? Anyway, surprise! she let's him go. He gets about an hour away and has an epiphany. He loves her and they can make it work. I don't really know how this epiphany worked because we didn't get Luke's thought processes during that time which was annoying. Just Chloe pining. 

Anyway, you probably can't tell from this review, but I ultimately liked this book as a bland, formulaic romance. It was nothing special, but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever read. I could have done without the insta-love and True Love Magic, but I took it at face value: a typical romance cliche. I do think the friends were annoying and the Fae could have been so much more, but I think it deserves three stars. But just barely.
3/5 stars