The Kitchen Witch
The cover of The Kitchen Witch slyly asks, Do you believe in magic? Hey, the Red Sox just won the World Series! I believe in magic, I believe in miracles, I believe in the tooth fairy. However, I do not believe that ditzy means charming, or that letting yourself be manipulated is heroic. There just wasn’t much magical about this book.
Logan Kilgarven is the new executive producer at a small TV station in Salem, MA. He’s also the struggling single father of a four year old son. Logan’s trying to straighten up and fly right, hoping to live down his appearance in juvenile court and wild past, and be a good dad. Desperate for a babysitter one day, he turns to his downstairs neighbor and asks her to watch his son Shane while he’s at work, even though he’s heard she’s a witch. A real one.
Melody Seabright isn’t a witch, she only plays one at tourist attractions around Salem. A flamboyant free spirit, she’s just as hot at first sight for Logan as he is for her. She agrees to watch Shane when she learns where Logan works, and persuades him to trade babysitting for a job interview down at the TV station. Mel loves cooking shows and just knows she would be a fantastic replacement for the TV chef who just left. She can’t cook, but hey, how hard could it be to fake it on TV?
Logan, thinking she might be qualified for an administrative position, is floored when she declares she wants her own TV show. She gets him to agree, though, when he’s so distracted by her breasts and bottom that he forgets what he’s saying, and then Mel bowls over the station’s general manager by flaunting those same assets. So Mel gets her cooking show, and Logan not only has to share his office with her, he has to teach her how to cook.
There is nothing subtle about this book; it’s meant to be hot and sexy, from its barely reformed bad boy hero to its anything-goes heroine. Every time they meet, lust is in the air. They find themselves in more compromising positions that I could keep track of. I even thought they’d actually had sex a half a dozen times, only to discover on closer re-reading that all those intimate encounters in elevators, offices, kitchens, and coat closets were little more than heavy making out. It would be hard to call it sexual tension, because they really are all over each other; Logan reaches second base nearly every time they’re alone for more than thirty seconds. It sapped a lot of satisfaction out of the eventual consummation, which was, in and of itself, pretty hot. And Mel’s talents are a little out of proportion to her experience, if you catch my drift.
The weak link is Logan. He’s supposed to be a bad boy with a wicked past, but he seems more like the boy who always got beaten up in school. His boss disapproves of single dads, so Logan doesn’t use the company daycare center that every other employee can use. He thinks he might be fired for even asking; there’s a real go-getter for you. And then, instead of hiring a nanny, he just begs help from friends, relatives, and neighbors, including people he has never met, often tossing in a little guilt trip about the difficulties of being a working single dad with a wicked past. There’s an Other Woman subplot that he deals with by being, quite simply, an ostrich. Even when other characters warn him about the Other Woman, he just shrugs it off until the end of that subplot, when he walks away rather than stand up for himself. He allows himself to be manipulated by Mel, by his boss, and by his son, among others. If this book were a Regency, he would be the fakest of the fake rakes.
There were two other things that bothered me. There are pages and pages that read like a script, all dialogue and no action, except that a script would at least tell you who is speaking. Melody can’t cook, but a combination of thigh-high slits in her skirts and stiletto heels blind everyone to this fact; in fact, they think it’s cute when her dishes literally explode. There was a distinct ‘cuteness’ to this book that got old very fast. The best parts, strangely enough, were when Logan’s son, Shane, figured prominently; the cute kid really was cute, and Mel and Logan both seemed most real and reasonable when they were either with Shane or talking about him.
The premise of The Kitchen Witch sounded pretty good, but the execution didn’t work for me. If you’ve always wanted to find a screwball comedy with lots of sexual situations, this might be your cup of tea, but otherwise I can’t really recommend it.