Summer is leaving so quickly. I already have a flier from one of my local stores for free health screenings and vaccinations for the kids so they can go back to school.
But it’s still July, and dang it, I still haven’t done anything “summery.” So, in honor of summer, I’m going to list my favorite fantasy “beach reads.”
Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson (fantasy chick lit) is a unique little tale that warmed my heart. Katie Chandler is a Texas girl in New York, trying to make it in the business world and not succeeding very well. It’s not that she doesn’t have good ideas. It’s that she has a boss with a very narrow view of what’s possible. Not to mention, compared to New York, Katie feels downright plain.
Until she decides to look for another job and ends up getting a strange email from a guy who claims she’s perfect for their company. And she is. Because she’s so normal, she can see through magic, and that’s exactly what this company, run by some of the most powerful magic-users in the world, needs, especially with a competitor who’s trying to sell black magic and destroy the company.
Enchanted, Inc. is a great story about having faith in yourself and the importance of seeing what’s real. It’s light without being too fluffy. I loved the budding, very sweet romance between Katie and the head of R&D, an absent-minded wizard who’s incredibly powerful. I loved how her experience helping her family’s business in Texas ends up becoming as useful as her natural ability, and I really loved the twist that ends up getting the villain towards the end. I haven’t finished this series, but I have read the next book, Once Upon Stilettos, and it’s just as good as the first. Hope to finish the whole series soon.
Books 1-3 of the Fates Series, by Kristine Grayson (sweet fantasy romance)
Utterly Charming (Book 1) is a new take on the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. In this one, a wizard has been toting around Beauty, trying to keep her safe from an evil witch, but finds he needs the help of a very pretty, very down-to-earth lawyer in order to do so. This first book doesn’t read much like a romance. In fact, for the first half of the book, I found it very difficult to like the hero, and I’ve learned I’m the kind of person who eats up wizards as heroes like candy. But as a fantasy novel with a strong romantic subplot, it works beautifully, managing to be both realistic about what would happen to a person who’d woken up after a thousand years while still being lighthearted about the whole thing. Though it was a rough start, I did enjoy this novel quite a bit, enough to read the next two.
Thoroughly Kissed (Book 2) is a fantastic fantasy romance, with the romance, this time, being just as strong as the fantasy. In this one, Emma (from the previous book) has discovered her magic is starting to emerge but just wants a nice, normal life writing books on how things really were in the Middle Ages. Her boss, on the other hand, is convinced she’s a fraud and has decided to prove it.
This book works much better as a romance than the first one. It’s also fun, with a good villain and a nice trip through the northern half of the U.S. as Emma tries to find help with her magic, especially help that will take it away. Emma is strong, yet adorable, and Michael, her boss, is a great help to her in many ways. This book is where I fell in love with the series and couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
Completely Smitten (Book 3) is, by far, my favorite out of all the Grayson books I’ve read. In it, my favorite side character, Andrew Vari, short and…not very handsome, is revealed to be a person under a curse due to his arrogance. Ariel is an athlete, just as Andrew was before his curse, and that not only brings the two of them together, but, due to the nature of the curse, makes Ariel wonder whom she loves more: the studly guy who always seems out of reach, or Andrew, who in spite of his rough nature, is incredibly kind and wonderful.
I loved the romance in this book. I mean, I really, really, really loved the romance here. The questions this book asks about what really matters in a relationship were just wonderful. And the best scene for me was when Ariel finds out which man she loves. Great HEA in this one. Highly recommended.
The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey (epic fantasy chick lit) confused me because the description made it sound like a romance, but it’s not. The first half of the book is a wonderful look at what happens when a woman who’s supposed to get her Happily Ever After doesn’t. And what happens is? She takes charge of her life.
I cannot begin to tell you how much that tickled me, seeing a fairy tale woman not only strike out and try to be something more, but take advantage of good opportunities that come her way. Because, in the process of taking charge of her life, she learns she can become a fairy godmother. And finds out she’s good at it.
The romance doesn’t show up until halfway through the book, but when it does, it’s fun. This isn’t a sweet romance, in that there’s at least one sex scene (if memory serves), but the romance itself is adorable because it involves the second-born prince, a guy who, in fairy tales, never gets the girl. The way Lackey resolves that in this book was nice. Good book. Recommended.
What about you? What are your favorite fantasy beach reads?