Monday, May 12, 2014

"Charming (Pax Arcana #1)" by Elliott James

Site Announcement: In honor of "Bout of Books Week" I will post a book critique EVERY DAY until Sunday.

Though I will not be participating myself (I don't believe in speed-reading or forcing my brain to compute words when it doesn't want to), I've wanted to do a critique every day of the week for a while now, and this is my excuse. Enjoy!

The Hook: Not all princes are... Charming.

I am beginning to dip my toes in urban fantasy, mostly because "good" epic fantasy is becoming increasingly difficult to procure. My best loved series' authors are in need of a fire poker to the butt, (with the exception of Brandon Sanderson, the Benvolent, who writes like a man possessed) and I turn to the urban genre for a quick laugh and adrenaline thrills.

This book is no exception. It delivers with a cheeky outlaw werewolf, with a mission to keep the paranormal beings from coming up on "the humans'" radar. I was struck by the cover art, and that gleaming sword, equal parts mysterious, intriguing, and the promise of action. And, quite frankly, the man looked like an urban cowboy. Which, in Montana-speak is either sensuous beast or hot mess. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from that. Onto...

The Plot:
Pax Arcana: the compulsion that makes people not see, hear, smell, taste, touch, think, or feel magic that is present everyday around them, unless there are extenuating circumstances (your life is in danger, etc.). John Charming is here to make sure the Pax actually works, and that those extenuating circumstances are mitigated. As a descendant of the Charming line, he was a Knight Templar... until he was bitten by one of the creatures he swore to prevent from hurting the humans. After becoming a werewolf, he took a run for it, as Templars don't take kindly to having their own kind as an abomination. He lies low, and manages to hide from them, until a mythic blonde and a vampire walk into his place of employment...

"Popular young adult novels notwithstanding, vampires only sparkle when they burn."

~Page 11, Charming... oh so charming. Ahem... I mean Elliott James wrote it.

His place of employment was a bar, or supposedly a pub, without that atmosphere. At least it was until he chased the vampire, and set out to find the rest of his coven. With the blonde on his heels...

So you want to know why I truly enjoyed it? And you don't count the above quote as a reason? I really liked the banter, the wit, the action, the hero, the heroine, the realistic vampires (not so pretty now, Edward), the mythology, the magic, and the ease of being engrossed in the story. It was easy to continue reading past when I promised myself I would stop, and difficult to stop when I really needed to.

While it never breached the 4.5 star mark, Charming is a book I could easily recommend to just about anyone, as long as that someone appreciates fairy tales, mythology, and fantasy. I never noticed any of those annoying lulls where characters just sit around until the author decides what to do with them next, while describing a leaf on a tree. No, this book is full of action scenes, 'characters instinctively hating other characters' scenes, scenes where the hero lusts after the heroine... like your everyday, well-percolated urban fantasy, served black. Just the way I like it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars for wit and action!

Content: This book is intended for adults. Violence, ugly vampires, and sexual frustration galore.

Page Count: 400 pages in the paperback

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