Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Flirting With Fire by Tara Quan
Apprentice witch Catalina Gato is prohibited from assuming her human form in front of her new employer without his express permission. Since he doesn’t know he’s a warlock, he can’t give it, leaving her in a familiar’s limbo. To make matters worse, she’s barred from leaving his house, and her attempts to enlighten him of his true nature results in burnt notes, charred walls, and exploding laptops.
On All Hallows’ Eve, she gets one night of freedom. Deciding some no-strings-attached sex might take the edge off the intense attraction she feels for her clueless boss, she signs up for Madame Eve’s service. When she meets her masked mystery date at the Castillo Capital, she realizes she might have gotten much more than she bargained for.
After being gifted a one-night stand from his annoying best friend, attorney Leo Difuoco reluctantly ventures to the Castillo Capital to celebrate Halloween. When he meets his oddly familiar green-eyed date in a Cat Woman costume, flames literally ignite, sparks magically fly, and life as he knows it changes forever.
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Tara Quan's novella's are always a sure thing in my book. She is very talented at bringing her characters alive in a very short space of pages such that they never feel like cardboard stereotypes as is the case in many short stories and novellas. Her gift extends to storytelling as well, and she almost always manages to fit a lot of story into very few words such that you feel you've read a work that was twice as long as it actually is when you're finished. All of these caveats hold true in this latest tale of hers, though I have to admit that this one did leave me a bit less satisfied than some of her others have. While thoroughly enjoyable, I did feel that it could have done with a little more fleshing out perhaps.
Catalina, Cat for short, is a witch's familiar as well as being a witch in her own right. Despite spending most of her time as a cat, she's very much a modern young woman with a modern young woman's wants and desires. She's intelligent and spunky, and is understandably getting more than a little fed up with the restrictions on her with Leo as her employer. It's easy to sympathize with her predicament and just as easy to like her with her quirky mix of boldness and shyness when it comes to seeking out a bit of sexy fun on her one night off. The same conflicting traits can be seen in her approach to confronting Leo about what he is and what she needs from him which is both confident and insecure by turns.
Leo is likewise a fairly quirky and likeable character. On the one hand he's in a very straight-laced career and for the most part holds to the conservative values that he was raised with, but on the other he's obsessed with Supernatural, a show that would likely give his highly conservative and religious father fits if he knew (one has to presume he doesn't). And though he is far from being a playboy or womanizer, he also has a fairly healthy libido and a rather unconservative appreciation for the opposite sex. He is ever the gentleman, yet doesn't take much convincing to get down and dirty with Cat when the opportunity presents itself.
Though Cat and Leo are both witches, apparently she is a different sort of witch than he is, though I was kind of fuzzy on what the difference was exactly. It has to do with abilities I take it, or where/what the main source of their power is, but unless I simply spaced on it (always a possibility) the details seem to have been left a bit vague. This is one main area where I found myself wishing the story was a bit longer so that some of the world-building could have been explained a bit more. For while all the most important points regarding how magic works and what the basic structure of the witch/wizard/warlock/what-have-you society is, a lot of the details get glossed over to a greater or lesser extent such that I found myself confused about some things. From what we are told, it sounds like a very interesting world, and one I'd like to learn more about. Perhaps we'll get to see more of these characters or at least more of their world in some future work.
Besides feeling like the world-building could have used a bit more space and attention, I also felt that a bit more could have been done in the way of characterization for Cat and Leo. While they are far from being cardboard stereotypes, and they do both benefit from the author's signature flair for compact character development, I didn't feel like they were quite as well-developed as some of her other novella characters have been. Maybe it's just that I liked them so much and was so interested in their world that I wanted to spend more time with them and get to know them and their stories better and thus I felt like I was missing something with them.
Overall I found this story to be very engaging and entertaining. While it did leave some things to be desired, it has the beginnings of a very interesting world, and one that I hope Ms. Quan expands upon in future books. Judging from the titles of upcoming works that is listed inside, I suspect that there will be at least one more book, possibly one involving one of the side characters from this story. Whatever proves to be the case in that regard, the present book is one that I'd definitely recommend to fans of paranormal romance. It's a perfect quick read for Halloween night or any night when you want a little sexy spookiness to spice things up.
Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.