I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Snick! That’s the sound of the pieces of this series clicking together in my brain and the Kate Daniels saga being elevated from good to excellent in my opinion. There are three major reasons for the change in my attitude.
1. We finally get the pieces of Kate’s backstory that make her choices and attitudes make sense! Knowing her history makes her awesome fighting skills, her hidden talents, and her reluctance to accept friendships understandable.
2. Note to authors: Read this novel to learn how to show instead of telling. In the last installment, Kate acquired a “niece,” Julie. Julie is having a difficult time in boarding school, being bullied by other children because she doesn’t have the same magical/battle skills that they do. Do the authors tell us how committed Kate is to her child’s happiness? No, we see Kate staging an elaborate visit to the school, dressed in intimidating fashion, with a tough guy in tow, on gorgeous horses, and timed to make a display designed to impress those little reptiles who are giving Julie grief. The girl understands the theatre right away and plays along, knowing that her street cred is being established. Genius!
3. The most cogent explanation of the romance/paranormal romance genres that I have ever read in a piece of fiction. Kate is instructing Raphael on the way to win her best friend’s heart—she has recommended that he acquire the two books that Andrea is missing from her absolute favourite romance novel series.
”Novel number four for Andrea’s collection?” I guessed.
Raphael nodded and took the book from my hands. “I’ve got the other one Andrea wanted too. Can you explain something to me?”
Oh boy. “I can try.”
He tapped the book on his leather-covered knee. “The pirate actually holds this chick’s brother for ransom, so she’ll sleep with him. These men, they aren’t real men. They’re pseudo-bad guys just waiting for the love of a ‘good’ woman.”
“You actually read the books?”
He gave me a chiding glance. “Of course I read the books. It’s all pirates and the women they steal, apparently so they can enjoy lots of sex and have somebody to run their lives…These guys, they’re all bad and aggressive as shit, and everybody wets themselves when they walk by, and then they meet some girl and suddenly they’re not uber-alphas; they are just misunderstood little boys who want to talk about their feelings.”
“Is there a point to this dissertation?”
He faced me. “I can’t be that. If that’s what she wanted, then I shouldn’t even bother.”
I sighed. “Do you have a costume kink? French maid, nurse….”
“Catholic school girl.”
Bingo. “You wouldn’t mind Andrea wearing a Catholic school uniform, would you?”
“No, I wouldn’t.” His eyes glazed over and he slipped off to some faraway place.
I snapped my fingers. “Raphael. Focus.”
He blinked at me.
“I’m guessing—and this is just a wild stab in the dark—that Andrea might not mind if once in a while you dressed up as a pirate. But I wouldn’t advise holding her relatives for ransom nookie. She might shoot you in the head. Several times. With silver bullets.”
An understanding crept into Raphael’s eyes. “I see.”
Ladies, next time your significant other sneers at your reading material, hand him Magic Strikes and have him read pages 201-202. We all have fantasies that we recognize as unreal but which still give us pleasure, men and women alike. We have just as much right to our fantasies as men do. And men, you don’t have to conform to those fantasies, you just need to be ready to role-play with us occasionally.
And now, excuse me, I have a costume or two to get planning…..