Series: Midnight Magic Mysteries #1
Published by Midnight Ink on March 8, 2013
Genres: Paranormal mystery
Source: the library
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A suspenseful brew with a dash of passion
High Priestess might sound like an ’80s hair band, but its Mona McGregor’s life. She runs the Midnight Magic shop in Goodnight, Virginia, and leads a large coven. She’s also raising two nieces and hasn’t been with a man for fifteen years…until a handsome doctor takes an interest in her. But Mona’s life really heats up when Adam Blue, a sexy werewolf, arrives at her door. Adam informs her that someone wants her dead and he is there to protect her. Hell’s bells! When a demon begins stalking her, Mona has to suspect her coven members, and even her family.
With two handsome men and a determined demon after her, Mona teams up with Adam to find out who really wants her dead . . . and who really wants her.
What’s a Witch to Do? is an engaging paranormal cozy mystery with more than a touch of humor as well as suspense and a healthy dose of romance. It’s related to Harlow’s F.R.E.A.K.S. series, but can totally stand alone (as witnessed by the fact that this is the first Harlow book I’ve read.)
Several things sold me on this book. The first is the main character, Mona McGregor. Mid-thirty-something Mona is very used to being the strong one, the one everyone else depends on. She raised her much younger sister almost singlehandedly, and became High Priestess of her coven at a young age, as well. She’s been shouldering responsibility for so long that she finds it almost impossible to let anyone else see her fear — or her tears. She’s stubbornly independent, an independence that is challenged when werewolf Adam Blue shows up on her doorstop, half-dead and claiming that someone in her coven wants to kill her.
I really liked Adam, too. He’s caring, good with kids, helpful around the house and Mona’s shop, sexy, and absolutely if inexplicably dedicated to protecting Mona. At least, his protectiveness is inexplicable to Mona, but not to anyone else with half an eye! Mona suffers from a marked inferiority complex when it comes to her looks and her attractiveness to men, so the attention she’s getting from Guy, the handsome new doctor in town, is both welcome and confusing… but despite an attraction to Adam, she can’t read the mixed messages he’s sending her.
There are other enjoyable characters, including Mona’s two nieces, Sophie and Cora, daughters of her older (also absent and irresponsible) sister. Sophie in particular intrigues me; she knows a lot more about demons and witchcraft than a ten-year-old should.
The book is written in first person present. I’m not normally a fan of the present tense for novels, but it really works in this book. Mona’s narration is straightforward, honest and sassy; she’s not hiding anything from the reader. I had to chuckle over her lists, which begin every chapter. Here’s an example:
- Find out who wants to kill me
- Hem that damn skirt
- Go to work
- E-mail spell for class
- Founder’s Day meeting
- Teach class
- Grocery shopping
- Stay alive
There’s a good balance between suspense, humor, and romance throughout the book, and the paranormal elements fit believably into the whole. The mystery holds together pretty well. There are several clues to the murderer within the text, but there’s also plenty of misdirection; neither Mona nor I suspected the right person. (Well, I did wonder a few times, but I wasn’t at all sure.)
Only a few things detracted from my overall enjoyment, and neither was a major problem. First, there’s a bit more profanity than I like. It wasn’t constant, and it’s certainly realistic, particularly given the first-person narration, so I could deal with it. Still, I would have preferred a bit less of it (especially the f-bomb.) Second, the explanation of Adam’s original involvement and appearance on Mona’s doorstep was weak and a little confusing. I read through it several times before I felt I had a good grasp on the events he was describing, and even then, “I barely escaped” isn’t much of an explanation for a broken arm, a stab wound, multiple cuts and contusions, evidence of restraints, and a stolen car. I understand now why he was reticent when he first explained to Mona, but it would have helped to have a lengthier, more detailed explanation later. The whole episode felt somewhat contrived, more a way to get Adam into the story and get the story started than a real part of the mystery.
Neither of those complaints kept me from enjoying the book — and wanting to read another. It does look as if this is the beginning of a new series, so I hope we’ll see more of Mona and Adam, Sophie and Cora, and the rest of the inhabitants of Goodnight. Meanwhile, I might just check out the first in the F.R.E.A.K.S. series.