Magic with a little soul

A review of Crystal Cove by Lisa Kleypas

Paranormal romance has been going strong for a while now. It's been doing so well that authors who haven't traditionally written in the sub-genre are adding getting in on the act. Sometimes with mixed results. Which is exactly the phrase I'd use to describe Lisa Kleypas' foray into the field.

Justine Hoffman runs a bed and breakfast in Friday Harbor in the San Juans. She also is a practicing witch - though she's never taken her powers as seriously as her mother does. What she does treat with some seriousness is her lack of a love life. It's not that she doesn't date. It's that she doesn't fall in love. It's almost like she can't. Which funnily enough is actually the case. Justine realizes that someone has placed a geas (pronounced 'gesh') upon her that prevents her from falling in love. In a bit of a temper and without much thought Justine works through a spell that breaks the geas. But for every magical action their is a corresponding magical reaction - and in this case there are some pretty big repercussions. While Justine is attempting to take back control of her emotional life, our hero enters stage right.

Jason Black is a gaming software genius and he's taken over Justines B & B while he investigates a land purchase in Friday Harbor. Jason is handsome and smart and just a bit dangerous. And, oh by the way, he has no soul. It's not that he's evil, he simply lacks a soul. Which means that he will probably come to a very early and abupt end. In order to avoid that fate he's come to Friday Harbor specifically because of Justine. He is sure that the grimoire Justine inherited will have a spell in it that will help him. In order to get close to the book Jason figures he should get close to Justine. The problem is, Justine is just as determined to keep him at arms length until she figures out what kind of magical backlash her geas-breaking spell will create.

Lisa Kleypas has long been known for her wonderful historical romances and more recently (about five years ago) she made the jump to contemporaries to great effect with her Travis series. Now she has made a further leap into the paranormal realm by adding a little magic to her contemporary stories. This last move hadn't been, up until now, as successful. The early books in her Friday Harbor series had magic in them but it never quite fit and truthfully felt like it was there simply so Ms. Kleypas could garner a new audience. With this fourth book in the series, I think she's hit her stride at last. Justine and Jason's road to romance is laugh-out-loud funny one moment and heartbreaking in the next. And for the first time the magical elements are entirely germaine to the story and add real tension to the "will they have their HEA" aspect of the story.  I'm glad I gave this series another chance.