Reading Backwards

Book reviews by your favorite Git.

Utterly Charming

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utterly charmingBy Kristine Grayson
It’s out of print!? It’s still available @Amazon.com
Read: October 2006
Rating: Fun

Not the best written book of all time, but it was enjoyable. Whatever you do, do NOT read the back cover. It’s crap and has NOTHING to do with the rest of the story. That Dear Diary crap? It’s not in the character’s voice and she doesn’t keep one. Lets move on to what this book is REALLY like.

Nora Barr is a lawyer recently out of school, and trying to set up her own practice rather than sell her soul to a large firm. Obviously she isn’t doing too well. So, when a creepy little man and his gorgeous friend show up looking to hire her, she can’t afford to turn them away out of hand.

Blackstone is a mage, who has been trying to keep the real Sleeping Beauty free from her horrible mentor witch Aelswith long enough for the spell to wear off. They’re been battling over her for 1,000 years–because Aelswith keeps finding where Blackstone hides the glass case holding the Beauty.  Blackstone and his companion hire Nora to store the case and keep it safe from Aelswith–without telling any of them where she’s keeping it, so that Aelswith can’t read their thoughts. With great reluctance, Nora does as asked, pocketing the much-needed fees. The odd characters disappear from her life, and she resumes some semblance of normalcy… for about ten years.

Ten years later to the day, she goes to the glass case and frees the now awakened girl, Emma. Nora is now in charge of a living person, who has slept thorugh the last 1000 years. Blackstone, who loved the girl way back when, is certain she will run to him and he can sweep her away to a new and happy life. But when Emma discovers that her life has been suspended for so long and the world changed so drastically, she turns on him. He isn’t the same person she once knew. Nora is somewhat torn between protecting Emma and wanting to see the gorgeous Blackstone–who can’t make up his mind if he wants to pursue Emma… or seduce Nora.

There are enough elements to be interesting and it’s decently written. My biggest problems are with the feasibility of all this. I’m cool with the magic bits. It’s more the character bits that are bothering me.

Basically, there’s just too much going on here for it to cover everything to my satisfaction. There are several normal folk who become involved–and toward the end, the newcomers tend to catch on unreasonably quickly. Nora’s ex-husband disappears except to make the divorce a misery–and, surprisingly, to listen to Nora when she, surprisingly, calls him to get his advice. He was involved in the original fracas, but later wrote it off as something non-magical. When Nora tells him that these crazy folk have come back, he’s too calm and understanding.

Emma herself is a bit odd. On the one hand, she is very mature and understands herself; she handles the initial shock with aplomb. But ask the girl to cook a meal and she throws a fit and hates the person who suggested it. I suppose it’s understandable that after a few weeks in her new world with a crazy woman trying to kill her she’d have to crack sometime… but yeesh. There is a sequel about her, however, which I’ll look into.

Blackstone himself isn’t a great hero. He’s sexy, yes, but when it comes to Emma and Aelswith he’s still thinking like the 21  year old he was when Emma was spelled. True, he does learn–after a good verbal thrashing or three from Nora he backs down… and actually becomes rather meek about the whole thing. Not the kind of guy I like, but it’s a refreshing change.

There was a lot that worked–the ‘omg, girl from the past comes to the future!’ bit wasn’t too cheesy. The magic made sense and was well-used. Nora is a good heroine and very consistent. Her logic was good. And the little guy? Cool.

But it’s always the ending that niggles… They have to make a quick trip to the Fates, the triumverate who make judgements in the magical world–and, dude, it’s so freaking fast to introduce them and then they pronounce stuff and it’s like, yo, where’d that come from? They should have been introduced sooner, dammit. And the real reason Aelswith wants to keep Emma locked away in suspended animation? Kinda been done before; I would have appreciated something a little less… cliche. Or something.

At almost 400 pages, it moved well and probably couldn’t have maintained its light flavor if it fleshed out all the things I wish were given their due. It would make a great fantasy epic if plunged into properly.

Oh, and for those who like their romances racy? No trysts. Sorry, loves.

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Written by Shen

October 15, 2006 at 6:31 pm

One Response

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  1. […] I finished Utterly Charming I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep reading about Emma Lost, the real Sleeping Beauty who wakes […]


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