Title: A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses
Author: Molly Harper
No. of Pages: 368
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Origins: Pocket Books
Bottom Line: Perfect light-hearted romantic comedy with a twist
“Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.
Complication One: Her grandfather was Mr. Wainwright and the artifacts are lost somewhere in what is now Jane Jameson’s book shop. Complication Two: her new neighbor, Jed Trudeau, who keeps turning up half naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn’t need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially when he’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard – can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?”
Thoughts: Molly Harper is back, and this time A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses brings readers back to Kentucky and Jane Jameson’s vampire family that inhabits Half-Moon Hollow. This time, the reader is an outsider looking in, as the story follows Nola Leary, a witch on a mission. She also happens to be Mr. Wainwright’s granddaughter, so there is that going for her, but the idea of having to search through the stock of the book store’s vampire owner is still intimidating. Adding to her stress is her heavenly shirtless neighbor. With her deadline rapidly approaching, she must overcome her lost and her fear of vampire reprisal and search for the missing heirlooms or else face the loss of her family magic. In true Ms. Harper fashion, hijinks will definitely ensue along the way.
Don’t be put off by the idea of yet another book about vampires or witches or werewolves or other supernatural creatures. The characters may have magic powers, but they are more human than some humans. If it were not for the reminders of the synthetic blood added to their coffee or their need to go inside before dawn, it is difficult to remember that there is anything out of the ordinary with these extraordinary characters.
Nola is a typical Harper heroine – awkward, prone to clumsiness, sarcastic, and normal…well, except for her magical ability to heal people and burst light bulbs in times of high emotion. The best part is that she fits quite well into Jane’s menagerie of friends and family. In particular, Dick’s response to Nola’s presence is absolutely priceless and induces more than one laugh-out-loud moment. The dialogue in any Harper novel always generates a laugh or two as well, and this time is no different. Seeing Jane’s and Andrea’s relationship from the outside is a blast, as the snark that falls from their lips flows quickly and effortlessly, and the dialogue that results is perfection. Nola fits into this dynamic as if she was born a part of it, and there is a tremendous sense of coming home both for the reader and for Nola.
There is always a gorgeous romantic love interest, and Nola finds hers in Jed Trudeau. He’s all country charm but has a mysterious side that is just as distracting as the fact that he never seems to wear a shirt. Their burgeoning relationship is fun to watch, and while there are the usual hiccups and shocking, game-changing secrets, everything falls into line as expected. As is so often the case, the journey is more fun than the end result.
As in these types of novels, for the most part the plot follows its designated, and predictable, path. Most of the surprises are easily predicted, and the final resolution is about the only way the story could result in its happily ever after. However, Ms. Harper always manages to keep hidden one or two unexpected twists among the more predictable ones that add a nice zing to the proceedings and which always add a special something to her stories. Combined with the snappy dialogue, fabulous characters, and more charm than should be allowed in a book, the reader gets a solid and highly entertaining romantic comedy with a hint of suspense.
Some books are meant to educate, some books are meant to foster personal growth, and some books are meant to poke fun at the seriousness of life. Molly Harper’s books fall into the latter category and are nothing but fun. They are goofy, charming, romantic, utterly endearing, and always worthy of one’s time. A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses is more proof of that.