A Little Light Magic
Joy Nash is one of those treasures I discovered while reviewing for AAR. Although she usually favors the paranormal when writing her romances, her first contemporary has only the slightest whiff of the mystical. It is basically, much to my delight, thoroughly character-driven and features genuine lead characters who are simply remarkable despite all their normality.
Half a block from the Jersey shore lays the old Whittaker place. Tori Morgan has just inherited the ramshackle house and intends to make it not only her home, but also her new retail store where she will sell tarot cards, crystals, books, and such, while telling a few fortunes on the side. But the city is requiring a few changes before Tori can open her doors and she is in dire need of a contractor since the summer season is fast approaching.
Nick Santangelo, owner of Santangelo Construction, spends his time overseeing the company’s largest jobs. As he stands staring at the dilapidated house that needs a tear down and rebuild rather than the requested code touch-up, he wonders just what his secretary was thinking when scheduling this appointment. Three of his crews are working overtime and there’s no way he would consider this job even if he could fit it into his schedule.
Nick also holds strong opinions about Tori’s retail plans and bluntly tells her that she won’t be successful selling all that woo-woo stuff. But, much to his chagrin, he’s strangely drawn to her even though he thinks the woman is out of her freaking mind. Refusing the project, Nick leaves but, for a reason he can’t fathom, returns in minutes to accept the job. And, as a puzzled Nick explains to Tori that he plans to personally take care of the job in his free time, I found myself already eagerly anticipating the romantic conflict. What a setup – I knew this was going to be good.
As Nick and Tori grow closer, she is quite torn between continuing to see Nick and proceeding with her plans to have a child now. She’s thirty and can’t put it off much longer due to a physical problem and a sperm donor seems the perfect solution…that is, until Nick enters the picture. Hmmm, I thought – getting better and better.
Not one who is especially fond of quirky heroines, I was a bit concerned in the beginning when Tori started using her hoodoo candle magic spell kits. Combined with the book’s back blurb, I expected a zany romance with magic flying everywhere – another less-than-favorite scenario for me. But I soon discovered Tori isn’t really an oddball, Nick’s relatives aren’t all that wacky, and it was more a case of the back blurb failing to set the right tone for this moving romance between two ordinary, likable people. In fact, I can’t characterize this as a lighthearted comedy, although it does have its humorous moments.
From my perspective as a former single adult involved in the dating scene, Tori’s questions and actions with regards to Nick (and despite her rather mild personality), provided me with a few “I can’t believe you are doing that” moments that caused me to literally catch my breath in concern. But such moments were very effective in that they displayed her sense of vulnerability rather than a lack of common sense or a show of weakness. I felt her dread at times, but, more interestingly, each incident worked to build even greater anticipation for Nick’s next reaction, all while his shell of gruffness and aloofness was slowly chipped away.
A cast of secondary characters enhance rather than detract from Nick and Tori’s relationship, although there is a definite impression that this is the first of a series. Nick’s teenage daughter is fighting him tooth and nail for a bit of freedom while his younger brother is a trial of another variety altogether.
I can’t quite put my finger on why this one didn’t make it to the DIK level. It may be the shoplifting grandmother or the over-concern for Nick’s mother or possibly those magic candles but, nevertheless, it does qualify as a book I want to read again and will remain in my romance library. A thoroughly enjoyable look at an authentic couple’s developing romance, the strength of A Little Light Magic lays largely is its realism. I identified with Nick and Tori’s struggle to know one another and I relished each of their ups and downs. As a hard line lover of completely character driven romances, I am definitely on board for Nash’s future contemporary releases.