Would-Be Witch (Amazon USA, Canada, UK)
By Kimberly Frost (Website - Blog - MySpace)
Publisher: Berkley Trade (February 3, 2009)
Paperback: 304 pages
Special thanks go to Ms. Frost for sending me an autographed copy.
(Yes, I have changed my review format just a tad.)
What a delight this novel was. It was great fun to read; just what I needed after my previous novel. I finished it in only a few days. And it has one of the best love triangles that I have ever seen.
Tammy Jo is from a family of witches. Trouble is, she has no power. Or rather, she has power, but she cannot wield it. Or something like that. As the story opens, she's given up on magic and has become a pastry chef. And she's good at it.
Too bad her temper got in her way. A confrontation with a difficult customer left her out of a job. On the way home, Edie, her personal ghost who inhabits that locket you see on the cover, decided to pop in, startling Tammy Jo into a car accident. And once she finally makes it home, she discovers that the costume that she ordered for tonight's party--which was supposed to be Robin Hood--turned out to be "something of a pornographic peacock."
But the bad day gets worse when masked robbers invade the party and steal her locket--at gunpoint. Stealing Edie at the same time. Now, Tammy Jo has to rescue the family ghost before her deathday, which is in just a few days.
And wow; the plot really gets difficult to summarize from there. It takes twists and turns you would never expect. I'll just go ahead and gush about my favorite parts.
My favorite character is Zach, Tammy Jo's ex-husband. Zach is a muscle-bound Texas good ole boy, who also happens to be a cop. Tammy Jo still loves him, but thinks of them like oil and vinegar--sooner or later, they always separate. He's fierce and protective. He orders her around, but doesn't get angry when she does her own thing. He'd happily take a bullet in the chest for her. While they fight, he cooks her breakfast. And vice versa.
The other guy is Bryn Lyons. He's a mysterious wizard who belongs to a family that Tammy Jo isn't supposed to associate with. He's meant to be fascinating, but his chemistry just didn't work on me. Maybe it wasn't supposed to. I'm not even sure it worked on Tammy Jo, since whenever faced with the choice between Bryn and Zach, she always goes with Zach. She just doesn't trust Bryn, and she has good reason not to. However, he also has his good points.
I can really see this love triangle developing in future volumes of the series, which is entitled, A Southern Witch Novel. Ms. Frost did a great job of giving both leading men their share of faults, and their share of virtues. In this book I liked Zach, but I can easily see him becoming a stalker-type (although I hope not--it would break my heart). So who knows how it will turn out?
I only have one real nitpick. And that is that Tammy Jo is strangely clueless about the world of witchcraft. She is supposed to have been raised by witches--her mother and her aunt--but Bryn has to teach her an awful lot. Some things she is able to wing on her own, but more often than not, she muffs it.
For a book about witches, this book was interestingly Christian-friendly. In the same breath as a spell she casts, she decides to throw in a prayer to God for a miracle. And in another prayer, she tells God that only His Son was able to raise people from the dead properly. And she always capitalized the pronouns, as I did above, which you really don't see a lot outside of Christian fiction. At one point, when she suspects that she might have been disrespectful, she say, "And You know, I'd the the last person to lecture You. . . So I'm just going to be real quiet right now." Except she isn't.
Ms. Frost was very careful to tie up every plot thread, almost to a fault. Some of them I didn't even remember, and I was thinking, huh? But that's a good thing; it means that this novel would hold up well for a rereading. Which I can see myself doing, because this is one that is for the keeper shelf.