I promised this series a while ago. Problem is, my English Lit side has trouble writing a review of a book I haven't researched the bejesus out of for a few months. So I'm finally getting to this on the understanding that I haven't done that, so if you don't like my opinions or I come up with some fact that isn't true, then you don't have to pay for next month's issue. Oh that's right...
Charming (Pax Arcana #1), by Elliott James
You have to understand: this is not my kind of book. I have no desire to read about vampires rending each other limb from limb, or new and exotic ways to torture people who can’t die. But I got this for free at BookExpo 2013, and I can’t ignore books that come to me like that. I love books that mess with fairy tales. Also the cover guy was pretty cute in a psychotic kind of way. Also, swords are wayyyyyy sexier than guns any day, as far as I’m concerned. But I certainly didn’t open the book expecting to find a rip-roaring romance therein (no, the title didn’t tip me off). I thought he’d just be waving his sword at damsels the whole time, not actually falling for someone.
First of all, Mr. James, you had me at the puns. My favourite chapter title: “Blood Bath and Beyond.” Closely followed by "Which One of You Ordered the Stake?" Closely followed by "The Norse Whisperer." You get the idea.
You give me John, a wise-cracking but seriously flawed and moody hero, a code he can’t break and some nice shiny swords and the smarts to use them. Then you add Sig, a Valkyrie with shiny swords and flaws of her own, for John to fall in love with … well, you can’t go wrong. Actually, you can, but Elliott James doesn’t. The mythology is flawless too; he blends his own with the real stuff seamlessly.
And the writing will have you snorting into your coffee. This is my favourite quote, apart from all the cool Alison/Sig stuff that would take too long to explain:
A few feet above the ground I grabbed hold of the nylon cord and pulled myself upward to create a little slack, then flipped to my feet with ninja-like efficiency.
The first time I read this I didn’t even focus on the romance. I was more surprised that I didn’t mind the violence too much (because, you know, he only kills the bad guys). Oh, and he isn’t a vampire (yes, Team Jacob is a big reason I like this book). But the romance was what stuck with me and that is why it gets on this list of my favorite love stories. Those who impale the undead together, stay together.
Kimberley Ash is a British ex-pat who has lived in and loved New Jersey for twenty years. When not writing romance, she can usually be found cleaning up after her two big white furry dogs and slightly less furry children. Her first novel, Breathe, is now available from Crimson Romance. Her trilogy, The Van Allen Brothers, was released by Tule Publishing in 2019.