Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Barbara Bretton - Casting Spells

Magic. Knitting. Love. A new series and a delightful departure by the USA Today bestselling author of Just Desserts. 
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.

Comment: I've heard about this book a long time ago, especially because the Portuguese published has chosen amazing covers for them, something that has never been really obvious but now I feel publishers are betting more and more in attracting readers to romances with cute and colorful covers. However, I was told the story wasn't great nor that well done and I never felt like being seduced by the cover until I saw it months ago with a huge discount and purchased it for 5€. With this price I felt like trying at last.

In this story we have Chloe Hobbs as protagonist and she lives in a small town in Vermont, as the last woman in a line of witches. Her ancestors have created and kept a spell that protects the city from harm and from being discovered by humans, which means the majority of the population is out of this world and fantastical.
The catch is that the spell can only be kept by women from that family line and Chloe should have found someone to love which would kick in the spell's longevity. Since that has been difficult to accomplish, many are complaining about the spell losing "power" and the last evidence of that is the murder of a human woman in the town.
For some reason, the police officer with the task to uncover the mystery is Luke Mackenzie and sparks seem to fly between him and Chloe. The problem is that she shouldn't fall in love with him because he is human and pairings between witches and humans rarely work out...

Small town stories are usually filled with sweet, adorable scenes or situations or quirky characters we practically "adopt", especially if there's a series on the go. This is the first book in the Sugar Marple series and on the surface, it has many ingredients to make it a cute series to follow:
- it has weird but funny acting characters;
-it has a different heroine we are supposed to root for;
-it has people interested in knitting, which is always a symbol of coziness;
-it has a love story which the couple knows it might lead nowhere but that they are helpless to fight;
-it has a plot that barely makes sense but where the HEA is guaranteed.

Considering the above, I had full expectation of being well entertained and I must confess it only took me one morning to read this! (It's both easy and short in pages to allow it.)
Sadly, the story isn't that well thought. One could appreciate the different characters, the attempt to create "enemies" and a bone of contention between good and bad guys, there's also a mystery to solve and a handsome foreigner who will win over the heart of the heroine. I just think the author has interesting ideas but mixed them all too much and didn't add complexity nor depth to any. So the story is easy but pretty superficial so when some issues seem to be talked over and over it just seems...boring.

There are ways and ways of telling a story. I think this one was told in a very simplistic way and the plot was affected by it. Many situations had potential (like the possible angst about Chloe not being confident enough to feel the pressure caused by owning the spell or how magic should have been an extra and not the only thing everyone used/felt like - this means every character except Luke seemed to do things the easy way, so why bother at all?) but there is always an easy fix for things and not enough personality in the characters or complexity to their choices.
Even the bad guys were too superficial and meaningless.

There are cute scenes in the middle of all this. But I feel we missed a lot on having more developed situations, a clearer plot and segments and not even the romance was that "romantic".
Chloe resembles someone we might want to be friends with at times but not always.
Luke I liked and he seemed to have hidden depths but that got lost in the weirdness. 
Oh well.
I don't think I'll read the other installments...
Grade: 5/10

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