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Paranormal without All the Angst

I am a huge fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but, sometimes, I want something a little less dark and angst-y than most of what is on the shelves. I know I can count on Gail Carriger and Nicole Peeler for dashes of humor and lightheartedness, but even their books have moments that are tonally dark or emotionally distressing. Recently, though, I've been lucky enough to stumble across a few books that fulfill my need for a little magic without the fate of the world resting in the balance.

Last year, I read Gabi Stevens's paranormal debut, The Wish List, the first in a series about reluctant fairy godmothers. The second book in the series, As You Wish, was just released and I enjoyed it even more. What captivated me about this novel was that it was a re-telling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche (or the story of Beauty and the Beast, if you prefer) — which, okay, is a huge spoiler, but you totally would have figured it out really quickly yourself. Also, there is an adorably grumpy gnome, a very villain-y villain, and a Real Housewives-ish villain's henchwoman. And, yes, I have now revealed nearly the entire plot to you in two sentences, but you should still read this. There is some great dialogue and the supporting characters are at least as interesting as the hero and heroine.

I also quite enjoyed I Dream of Genies by Judi Fennell, which is exactly what you think it is — a book about a genie who's been trapped in a bottle and ends up being released into the contemporary world, where her magic goes totally bonkers. There is really nothing not to like about this book, from the clever wordplay (beginning with the genie being named Eden — and if you don't get why that's funny then this book isn't for you) to the supporting characters (most of whom aren't human) to the story and world-building that show that Ms. Fennell actually did some research into ancient legends of the djinn. And, it's funny. Really funny. And enchantingly lighthearted. If the color lilac were a book, it would probably be this book.

And, finally, there's Kristine Grayson's Wickedly Charming, which imagines what might happen if Cinderella's Prince Charming met Snow White's Wicked Stepmother. Not only is it full of magical fairy-tale goodness, it's also full of insights about all aspects of the publishing world and features a hero and heroine who are more mature than one usually finds, and I'm not just talking about their ages. After all, they're magical fairy tale characters, so they're pretty ancient in human terms. What sets them apart is that they behave like adults in their 30s or 40s; adults who have had some pretty crappy things happen to them and are a bit gun-shy as a result. Watching these two work through their issues like grown-ups (rather than just tumbling into bed together and waving a magic wand to make everything sparkles and rainbows) was, quite frankly, refreshing and something I'd love to see more of.

Here's to magic without the misery.

÷ ÷ ÷

Billie Bloebaum is a bona fide romance reader and would be reading romance novels even if she weren't reviewing them. She is also a new convert to eBooks, thanks to the writers of the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, who kindly loaned her a Sony Reader. However, since Billie has a deep and abiding love for the traditional book, she attempts to review books that are available in both formats.


Books mentioned in this post




2 Responses to "Paranormal without All the Angst"

  1.  
    Steve May 14th, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I totally agree with you, sometimes it is good to read something different to change our perspective.

  2.  
    barb May 16th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I enjoy your writing so much, tho' I'm not even "into" this genre! It makes me think I've truly missed something.

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